How to turn a discriminatory review into a love statement on Valentine’s Day

Our client, Apollo111 is a cultural center in Bucharest – Romania, founded in 2016, which includes four different projects, all operating under the brand umbrella: Apollo111 Theatre, Apollo111 Parties, Apollo111 Events and Apollo111 Pizza opened in 2023.

It is a hub well known in Bucharest as a supporter of tolerance and equal rights, for its policy of inclusion and as a space where everyone is welcome and accepted. The weekly parties that Apollo111 organizes are spectacular and people enjoy attending every weekend. Among the pizzeria’s employees are immigrants and representatives of the LGBTQ+ community.

But even for a space with a stated and acknowledged inclusive policy, negative reviews can appear online at any time. This is exactly what happened on the Google page of the Apollo111 club. One customer gave 3 out of 5 stars and wrote a discriminatory review. The review reads: full of fags.

The question 

Under these circumstances, we wondered if it was fair to accept the situation as it is. Of course, we respect everyone’s opinions, but a discriminatory review accepted in silence is not fair.

Precisely because people have had the courage to speak out about what is not right, being brave and fighting for their rights has proven over time to be the healthiest option. Furthermore, silent acceptance would be, in a sense, an undoing of Apollo111’s work to uphold equal rights and tolerance. 

The solution

And so we wanted to make a statement about how proud we are that our client, Apollo111, welcomes everyone with open arms and also that we stand by them.

Therefore, the Rusu+Borțun and Apollo111 teams decided to publish the screenshot of the review in question on social media platforms, accompanied by a simple graphic sign, the little heart on Instagram and Facebook.

What happened next?

The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive and immediate. Within less than an hour of posting the review, Apollo111 received significant engagement on both platforms, with over 1600 likes and comments on Instagram and over 350 likes and comments on Facebook. But, as expected, Instagram shortly decided to remove the post for the presence of the inappropriate word.

The outcome 

The huge support of the community, through the large number of likes and comments, showed us that there is a large community in Romania that is no longer willing to be silent in the face of discrimination and will use the tool at hand – the phone – to take a stand against what is unfair.

The solution proposed by Rusu+Borțun proved to be inspired. Not only did it show the quick reaction and support of a large number of people for an important cause, but it made a statement about inclusion, tolerance and love.