unnamed-9A worldwide campaign against the flogging sentence of a blogger in Saudi Arabia was initiated by two friends working in Manchester’s creative agencies, it has emerged.

David Mapple from Outcider and Nathan Newman from Time Over Distance launched the #backlash campaign at the start of the month. They are actively involved in drawing the world’s attention to the plight of blogger Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 1,000 public lashes before serving ten years in prison and paying a major fine. His crime was insulting Islam.

Speaking to me today, Mapple said the reaction to the social media activity had been remarkable:

“The campaign got over 1 million impressions on the first day and has already been covered globally across press, TV and radio, with a reach already exceeding 12 million and counting.”

In an interview with a New York blogger Newman explains more about why they felt compelled to act on the case.

“The anniversary of Badawi’s [imprisonment] is coming up on June 17 and Ramadan is also coming up and we know that traditionally people are pardoned around that time. There is also a climate surrounding FIFA and the controversy there and it seems like it’s the right time at the moment for this sort of campaign.”

The pair produced a press pack for journalists but also reached out to bloggers interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues globally. Their work is continuing with a massive monitoring operation looking at social media reaction from around the globe as well as coming out of the Kingdom itself.

Supporters of the campaign are asked to use lipstick to make a lash type mark on their backs and then share the image using the hashtag #backlash across social networks. The campaign can be found @backlashgroup on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

The campaign will conclude after 15 days with the pair hoping to attract some political weight to the cause over the next few remaining days.