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‘Hidden Portraits’ Fights Years of Vandalism against Women in Jerusalem with Daring Out of Home Campaign


Israel Women’s Network and JCDecaux Israel confront ultra-orthodox extremists who deface OOH ads featuring women

‘Hidden Portraits’ Fights Years of Vandalism against Women in Jerusalem with Daring Out of Home Campaign

Cloudfactory from Amsterdam and Blue Oyster Media and Adler Chomski, both from Tel Aviv, created a ‘Trojan Horse’ for Israel Women’s Network and JCDecaux Israel: They made a mosaic image of Israeli actor Tsahi Halevi representing the portraits of thousands of women who were defaced over the years – to give women back their rightful presence in the public sphere.

The campaign, Hidden Portraits, has been launched this Sunday (April 9th) on 400 Out Of Home sites across Israel.

Defacement of out of home (OOH) ads featuring women is a common phenomenon in recent years in Jerusalem. Women’s faces are being blotted out, spray painted, covered with stickers, scratched out, and in extreme cases burned down. These actions are carried out by ultra-orthodox extremists that find the portrayal of a female image in public offensive.

OOH companies, agencies and advertisers that did not fall in line with these 'standards' have frequently fallen victim to vandalism and eventually chose to avoid using female models and influencers in their ads given the financial costs of these attacks. As a result, women’s faces have disappeared from billboards and posters across the city and a girl growing up in Jerusalem would not see an image of a woman running for city council or a successful female athlete promoting a sports brand in the public sphere.

Fed up

After more than a decade of complacency with the situation, advertising professionals in Israel refuse to keep silent as the war on women in Jerusalem is not very different than the war on women (and men) in other geographies – the enforcement of strict codes around dress and behavior in Iran and even the overturning of abortion laws in the US as other harrowing examples.

True nature

Together with JCDecaux, the largest OOH company in the world, and IWN (Israel Women’s Network), Cloudfactory, Adler Chomski Tel Aviv and Blue Oyster Media launched a unique campaign featuring a mosaic image of international actor (and star of Netflix hit Fauda), Tsahi Halevi.

“We conceived Hidden Portraits as a Trojan horse,” Julio Alvarez, creative director at Cloudfactory, explains. “At a first glance, it seems like just another portrait of Tsahi Halevi. But taking a closer look, the billboard reveals its true nature: a portrait that consists of hundreds of portraits – those of the women who’ve been defaced from advertising billboards in Jerusalem over the past decade by ultra-orthodox extremists.”

The poster calls passersby to “Take a closer look” followed by “There are places in Israel this is the only way to present women in the public sphere”. Once activated, a QR code on the poster will launch a mini-site with further information about the project and those using Google Maps will see a female version of the poster on their mobile instead of the real-life street “male” poster – the female version actually features Lucy Ahrish, Tsahi’s wife and a journalist/news anchor who’s image was erased several times in recent years.

The campaign calls on national and local governments as well as law enforcement bodies to do more in the fight against these terror acts.


Hadas Danieli Yellin, executive director of the IWN (Israel Women Network), comments: “Vandalizing signs with female figures is only part of the phenomenon of the exclusion of women from the public sphere, which poses a real threat to the achievements in the field of women’s rights and gender equality in Israel. We have reached an absurd situation in which advertising companies are forced to refrain from publishing photos of women. In the rare cases that those vandals were caught by the police they were released almost immediately with no charges, which is a travesty.

Addressing the phenomenon will come only by placing the issue at the top of the priorities of the Israel Police and government. We will continue to fight against the exclusion of women from the public sphere and we will not be ignored.”

Says Shir Zakai, CEO of JCDecaux Israel: “Already in 2020, JCDecaux Global launched a program for gender equality and as part of its commitment, set itself the goal of reaching the representation of at least 40% women in senior management by 2027. Social responsibility and equality are part of the DNA of JCDecaux worldwide. Diversity and inclusion are an important part of who we are and how we act. I am proud to be part of a society that fights for equality and an organization where women are in leadership positions.”

Advertising has a responsibility towards society

The final words are for César García, Creative Director at Cloudfactory: “We want to confront extremists with the fact that they wouldn’t dare deface a male portrait – but how will they behave if that portrait consists of hundreds of portraits of women? Let’s see! By confronting them with this situation we could expose the absurdity of their methods.’

Cloudfactory and Blue Oyster Media are both part of by The Network, an international independent agency network founded by the late Per Pedersen. García continues: ‘Hidden Portraits is a best-in-class by The Network project, a true collaboration between like-minded colleagues who believe advertising has a responsibility towards society. by The Network was founded by Per Pedersen, who sadly passed away early this year. We at Cloudfactory were responsible for the creative and concepting part, very much in line with the work we’ve been making lately and with our creative activism philosophy. This project has a deeply emotional side to it, since it’s the last project Per oversaw, and one he held dearly.”

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Categories: Corporate, Social and PSAs, Awareness

by The Network, Mon, 17 Apr 2023 14:31:00 GMT