ISHR Scared Dictators and The Mouse

International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) argues that the Internet has become a weapon in defense of Human Rights, which many governments censor, restrict, prohibit and, above all, fear. Their award-winning advertising campaign, “Scared Dictators” shows Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Raul Castro (Cuba) and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran) attempting to escape a mouse, a computer mouse. The series was awarded with silver and bronze medals for Poster at the Clio Awards in New York, in May 2009, was a winner at the Cresta International Awards 2009, and a bronze award at the New York Advertising Festival.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the mouse in ISHR Scared Dictator poster

Hugo Chavez and the mouse in ISHR Scared Dictator poster



The Scared Dictators campaign was developed at Ogilvy Frankfurt, by creative directors Oppmann Simon and Peter Römmelt, art director Daniela Friedel, copywriter Ercan Taner, photographers Robert Eikelpoth and Michael Breyer.

The ISHR was founded in 1972 in Frankfurt, Germany, as “Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte” (Society for Human Rights) by thirteen people committed to human rights. It was at a time when Vladimir Bukovsky had just been sentenced to 12 years of labour camp and exile in to Siberia, because he had courageously demanded his right to free expression. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn had completed his “Archipelago Gulag”, yet hardly anyone knew this man in the West. In those days, many people were demonstrating for Vietnam, but no one demonstrated for the thousands of political prisoners in Soviet labour camps, dying fugitives at the German-German border, persecuted people in Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia and other states on the European continent. ISHR took up the cause of these people and tried its best to make the fates of those innumerable individuals known in the West. The organisation has since formed groups in other countries, becoming the ISHR.

  • tripitaka

    A lot of problems with this.

    1. Castro is the closest thing to a dictator here. Chavez is just a President, same as any other American President. Same as the President of Mexico. Same as the President of Guatemala. Ahmedinejad is the President of a repressive society with little democratic influence on the main power structure, but the Presidency is one of the few areas of Iranian politics where democracy actually matters. Khamenei would be a more appropriate figure.

    2. A computer mouse as a living mouse isn’t a clever metaphor. That pun is inherent in the name of the product, which is almost 50 years old. It’s like thinking you’re clever for coming up with the idea of picking BlackBerries or shucking Oyster cards. It’s the whole point of the name.

    3. Most importantly, the metaphor suggests that the internet is actually powerless against the dictators.