The key goal of the #FreeTheLeopards flash mob was to draw the attention of a wide audience to Germany's blocking of the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. We also wanted to motivate this audience to join the advocacy campaign calling on the German government to make this decision as soon as possible — to "free the leopards".
The January 20 meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine's Defense in the Ramstein format did not result in a positive verdict on the supply of German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, although negotiations had been going on for many months. Of all the countries present at the meeting, only Germany did not support this, which provoked a wave of debate and protests.
Earlier, in 2022, the issue of Germany's transfer or re-export of Leopard tanks by other countries was blocked and postponed several times.
The idea behind the #FreeTheLeopards campaign was a viral flash mob that involved posts on social media with the hashtag #FreeTheLeopards and illustrations with leopard spots or photos of themselves wearing leopard print clothing or accessories. In this informal way, its participants called for the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine.
On January 22, 2023, the #FreeTheLeopards campaign was launched on Ukraine's official Instagram page @Ukraine.ua with a video that went viral, garnering several million views. The flash mob quickly gained momentum on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, and thousands of Ukrainians and foreigners began sharing their own photos, making the leopard print trendy again.
#FreeTheLeopards was supported by many celebrities and influencers, as well as media, companies, organizations, politicians, designers, military, and government agencies. Among them, for example, are German designer Frank Peter Wilde, who became a partner of the campaign, Jamala, Tina Karol, alyona alyona, TVORCHI, Go-A, Kateryna Osadcha, Volodymyr Klitschko, Andrii Bedniakov, monobank, Nova Poshta, Ukrzaliznytsia, Ukrainska Pravda, Reface, Diia, Rozetka, Ukrposhta, and many others. The campaign received a lot of attention from Ukrainian and international media, provoking buzz in Germany as well.
The #FreeTheLeopards flash mob ended a few days later, on January 25, 2023, when the German government agreed to transfer Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
The #FreeTheLeopards campaign became a finalist at the New York Festivals in the Advertising Awards 2023 COLLABORATIONS & PARTNERSHIPS category: Best Use in two categories (Real-Time Response, User-Generated Content). In addition, it won gold, silver, and bronze at the Kyiv International Advertising Festival.
We are particularly grateful to
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF UKRAINE
FRANK PETER WILDE
UKRAINIAN AND FOREIGN STARS, INFLUENCERS, MEDIA, COMPANIES, ORGANIZATIONS THAT JOINED THE CAMPAIGN
Bickerstaff.734 — creative idea and content