Ovira Has Apologised After Being Accused Of Using “People’s Pain For Publicity”

They hadn't sought permission from both victim survivors before their first viral billboard campaign.

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Healthcare start-up Ovira has apologised after allegations it didn’t seek consent from a victim before launching the viral ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars‘ campaign, which capitalised on his lived experience.

Ovira, known for a period pain management product, paid for billboards across Sydney on October 5 in response to a recent court case. In September, ex-private school student Nicholas Drummond was put on a good behaviour bond and had his convictions wiped after pleading guilty to assault. He had slut-shamed a woman, broken her phone, and hit her in the face, before striking a male bystander as well.

The judge overseeing his case made a controversial comment at the time, saying the woman’s outfit might have been perceived as “provocative”, and telling Drummond to “thank your lucky stars” he let him off so lightly — inspiring the name of Ovira’s second billboard campaign. The company said at the time they were aiming to “show our justice system that we refuse to allow them to fail the people it’s meant to protect”.

But activist and campaigner Tarang Chawla called out Ovira on Thursday for using “people’s pain for publicity”. He claims he withdrew his support after discovering the day before launch that the company had not yet requested permission from the second male victim, who was also punched by Drummond. “It became clear that Ovira did not have consent from both of the victims of Nick Drummond’s attack for their campaign,” said Chawla on Instagram.

According to Chawla, less than 24 hours before the ‘Stars’ launch, Ovira told him directly “they did not have consent from the male victim but would now obtain it because important to get that”.

They did not have consent from the male victim but would now obtain it because important to get that.

On October 4, journalist Nina Funnell asked Ovira on Twitter if they had gotten both parties’ consent after their first campaign, where the company had plonked a mobile billboard the week beforehand reading “You will not silence our pain” in front of Drummond’s alma mater Knox Grammar School, ahead of their second ‘Stars’ campaign the next day. Ovira replied to Funnell to say that they had “been in contact with, and have consent from both survivors” ahead of the second activation.

“As a survivor and as a CEO, I completely understand the importance of consent,” Ovira’s founder Alice Williams said in an open letter on Wednesday. “There have been allegations against ‘Your Lucky Stars’ that this was not the case.”

“I am completely heartbroken by, and incredibly sorry for any hurt our mistakes have caused,” said Williams. “I am most sorry to any victim survivors who have been let down by us.”

In the statement, Ovira said it organised the campaign while “gaining the consent and support from both victims”, stating it had “received their consent … before launching the campaign” and had a Plan B in case it did not obtain it in time, or at all. Williams said to Junkee that the initial billboard was a general comment about the legal system, but when Ovira “decided to escalate the campaign, and use specific quotes from the judge that involved the woman, we sought and obtained consent and support from both victim survivors”.

“In future, please listen to survivors and advocates before you act,” said Chawla online. “Design campaigns with them, not just for them. They know a lot more than you might think.”