An understanding campaign to reach victims of human trafficking

Who: The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, with Strategic Objectives and Good&Ready for communications/advertising, and Hotspex for media.

What: “The world’s most understanding…” a campaign to raise awareness of the problem of human trafficking for labour or sex work, and to encourage victims to call the Centre’s Hotline to seek help.

When & Where: A national media relations push started late last year, with advertising added this month during the build-up to National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Feb. 22, running across online and out-of-home, including wild postings, transit and in-store.

Why: Many victims of sex trafficking are young, lured into it by someone they love and trust. Part of the prevention strategy is to educate people about healthy relationships—in a month famous for celebrating romantic love—and help people in the community recognize signs of human trafficking and sex trafficking and provide them with the means to do something about it. The Centre’s Hotline was launched in 2019 to answer questions, take tips or reports about possible trafficking, and provide referrals to social services and law enforcement.

“Over the past few months our mission has been to ignite a conversation and raise greater awareness of the Hotline,” said Judy Lewis, co-founder and partner at Strategic Objectives, which won the assignment last fall and brought on Good&Ready and Hotspex to help execute. “The entire strategy is designed to reach both those in need, and those who want to help.”

How: Advertising is built around the idea that anyone can call the hotline for help and receive total support without judgement from the person on the other end of the line.

Posters and ads use the headline “The world’s most understanding…” finished by whatever media or context the ad is displayed: “The world’s most understanding social post,” for example, or “The world’s most understanding poster.” The attention-grabbing headlines are accompanied by a paragraph about the Hotline and assurances that anyone calling will not be judged, and that police don’t have to be involved unless the caller wants them to be.

“We are the world’s most understanding human trafficking hotline. We do not judge. We listen. Please call.”

The creative is intended to be a message of hope, with the words “You are loved” across a heart icon.

“Sex trafficking victims resist reaching out for help because they fear they will be judged,” said Good&Ready co-founder Terry Drummond. “This whole campaign is designed to reassure them that if they call the hotline, they will be speaking with somebody who understands the situation they’re in. There will be absolutely no judgement—just someone who will listen and provide help if it is wanted.”

To reach victims of trafficking directly, digital was an important part of the campaign, but equally important was out of home: “[O]ften those being trafficked are denied access to their phones, therefore out-of-home ads became a significant element of the plan,” said Lewis.

And we quote: “This is a very complex and sensitive issue, and one that demands empathy and deep understanding of both the issue and the pressure that those being trafficked experience,” said Lewis.

David Brown