The Traveller Movement, Jimmy Carr and a Netflix Christmas Special

The Traveller Movement are a national civil society organisation comprised of ethnic Romany Gypsies, Irish Travellers, Roma and members of the majority population working in partnership. They campaign for the rights and respect of traveller populations in the UK.

Jimmy Carr, in his Christmas 2021 Netflix special ‘His Dark Materials’, joked about the ‘horror of 6 million Jewish lives being lost’ but that the deaths of ‘the thousands of Gypsies’ at the hands of the Nazi’s had been one of ‘the positives’ of the Holocaust.

The joke was clearly horribly offensive even for Jimmy Carr. On a UK network, it would have never have made it to the screen, but part of the problem is that the publisher, Netflix, isn’t subject to UK media regulatory bodies in the same way British broadcasters are. That leads to an opaque complaints and removals process, which Netflix alone decide on.

Moments of great public outrage are also moments for education and for galvanising support for those affected. With no formal complaints process, the only answer was to raise public awareness of what happened, why it was wrong, and how we move forward from here.

Their ActionStorm petition quickly gained traction and national news attention, casting a light on the prejudice that is still rampant in society

The Traveller Movement reacted to the news by launching an ActionStorm campaign to condemn Jimmy Carr’s foul comments and set the record straight.

After sharing the petition with their followers, the campaign went viral quickly, and would go on to get more than 8,200 shares across social media.

Mainstream papers were quick to pick up on the campaign too, and the ActionStorm petition was featured by BBC News, the Daily Mail, the Mirror, The Guardian, Sky News, The Independent, the Metro, Yahoo News, NME, Unilad, The Jewish Cronicle, The National and more – in total, around 20 mainstream publications.

With so much mainstream news coverage, pressure ramped up on Netflix.

The battle against prejudice continues, but The Traveller Movement gained a surge of new supporters to share it’s vital work with, which is a victory in itself.

While a discussion with Netflix around removing the joke is still in progress, a lot has been achieved by a small campaigning team in just a short amount of time.

The petition itself gained 19,700 signatures in 24 hours, and reached 100,000s more with press coverage. 

The moment was indeed a good opportunity to engage and educate a new audience, who would never have been motivated to act on this topic in the past, and for whom this would certainly have been their first contact with the campaigning group The Traveller Movement.

From this single campaign, more than 6,500 supporters asked to join The Traveller Movement’s email subscriber list and hear more about their great work – 8X the number of subscribers they started with. 

In a world where subscriber numbers for a campaigning organisation often provide stability and longevity, these numbers can make all the difference.

Campaign highlights

  • 19,701 signatures
  • 6,868 comments of support
  • National news coverage in more than 20 mainstream publications, including the Daily Mail, Sky News, The Independent, the Metro, Yahoo News, NME and more.
  • More than 6,500 new subscribers to The Traveller Movement’s email list (33%)
  • The petition had over 8,200 shares across various social media platforms
  • Talks with Netflix are still ongoing

“This was a massive opportunity for a campaigning organisation like ours to be heard by a wider audience.”

“ActionStorm was a great platform to get a campaign up and running quickly that could be signed and shared out to our supporters. The ActionStorm provided great feedback, and were able to really act at speed too. The ability to move quickly was really important for us in this campaign. The issue already had already received media attention, and we knew how upset and angry people were – we wanted to be able to harness that anger. Through the platform, and because of the responsiveness of the team, we were able to evidence that public outcry and keep the story in the news.

“We found the platform simple and easy to use, and its live supporter comments and ease of sharing really helped the campaign take off quickly. So much so that within a few hours of the petition going live, we were being asked for comment by major national newspapers.

“The petition helped to cast a light on an important issue, and by the end more than 6,500 people had asked to subscribe to our email list to hear more about our campaigns – a supporter list growth of 700%. This is a massive opportunity for a campaigning organisation like ours to be heard by a wider audience.”

– Greg Sproston, The Traveller Movement

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