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Overviewai-weiwei

Ai Weiwei is a world-renowned, award-winning Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism. Ai has exhibited in Museums around the world including his current global traveling exhibition Zodiac Heads. Ai gained broad world attention for his collaboration on Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.

As a political activist, the artist has been highly critical of the Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called “tofu-dreg schools” in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing Capital International Airport on 3 April, he was held for 81 days without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of “economic crimes.”

The artist, again able to travel outside his homeland, is currently developing a film project about the global refugee crisis.

Opportunity

Amid news of Google’s struggles with censorship and alleged cyberattacks from China, the agency co-created, co-produced and promoted an innovative discussion about social media and digital activism for client AW Asia, a preeminent promoter and exhibitor of Chinese contemporary art.

Strategy and Implementation

Two hundred invited guests at the Paley Center for the Media in New York and a global audience streaming the event observed and participated in the historic discussion – the first ever live Twitter public discussion on digital activism — that included Ai Weiwei; Jack Dorsey, creator and co-founder of Twitter; and Richard MacManus, founder of technology blog ReadWriteWeb. A live Twitter feed displayed comments from viewers worldwide in real time to the audience in the auditorium and created a uniquely interactive experience, as panelists responded directly to questions from around the world.

The agency leveraged this event to garner numerous major media placements for Ai Weiwei. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour featured her interview with Ai Weiwei on her weekly program, which reached a global audience of over 250 million, including over 110 million viewers in the U.S. Stories about the artist and the event appeared in the Associated Press, IDG News as well as 100 media outlets around the country, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, MacWorld and Huffington Post. We also arranged an editorial board visit with the New York Times.

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