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Vital Stories

Anti-tobacco advocates in Indonesia show their true colors

In 2015, houses along the Kali Code River in Yogyakarta were used as a promotion tool by one of the biggest Tobacco companies in Indonesia. Under the slogan of “Show Your Colors”, almost all buildings along one part of the river located right under the Gondolayu bridge were transformed by Philip Morris International into colorful buildings. A giant balloon was also placed in the sky over the river.

The striking reds, blues, yellows and whites didn’t just catch the attention of local people – the stunt gained national and international notoriety.

The people who had their houses painted did not receive any compensation payment. Meanwhile, the tobacco company enjoyed brand exposure worth an estimated US $220,000 each month.

After months of advocacy, the frame and balloon with the cigarette brand identity were removed, but houses remained painted in the tobacco brand colors.

Earlier this year #SuaraTanpaRokok (our “Voices Without Cigrarettes” campaign in Indonesia) in collaboration with Muhammadiyah Tobacco Control Center and several organizations and activists in Yogyakarta, set out to retaliate, with the “Tunjukkan Warna  Aslimu”, (“Show Your True Colors”) campaign, as a symbol of resistance towards the exploitation of the community by the tobacco industry.

The community project saw giant, anti-tobacco murals painted onto the houses, in an artistic project led by renowned local graffiti artist Koma. Luminescent paint was used to highlight the murals at night.

“Tunjukkan Warna  Aslimu” also included community empowerment activities, such as video workshop training and health education.

At sunset, on February 4, the murals created by Koma and his group, were unveiled, coinciding with World Cancer Day. The UV lights installed on people’s roofs made the murals glow in the dark. A lot of people, media, and community members came to see the murals and took pictures from Gondolayu Bridge.

During the unveiling on World Cancer Day 2017, our hashtag #SuaraTanpaRokok (Voices Without Cigarettes) was the number 1 trending topic on Twitter in Indonesia.

Now, Kampung Code has gained a new color. The previous color that reflected the identity of a cigarette brand has changed. Kampung Code has shown its true colors, and murals that remind people of the dangers of smoking now decorate the roofs and walls of the houses.