Paige Calvert
Human Trafficking Often Hides in Plain Sight

Toronto Crime Stoppers & Tribal Worldwide team-up to educate the public about the signs of someone being victimized, in an effort to generate tips

Human trafficking, which is not typically perceived to be a problem in Canada, is one of growing concern across the country. More than 90 per cent of the victims of sex trafficking within Canada come from Canada.[1] Young Canadian girls of all socio-economic backgrounds, in big and small cities, are being recruited and forced into sex work. Today, Toronto Crime Stoppers unveiled a powerful new awareness campaign to educate the public on how to recognize the signs of someone being victimized and drive them to report suspicious behavior by calling 1-800-222-TIPS.

“Human trafficking occurs closer to home than most Canadians realize, and the signs can be hard to identify or are easy to dismiss,” says Sean Sportun, vice chair, Toronto Crime Stoppers. “Moreover, with the legalization of prostitution comes ambiguity over what is and isn’t a legal sexual service, making it difficult for everyday citizens to discern between a consenting sex worker and an exploited, abused and powerless victim.”

Knowing that hotels are one of the top hot spots where sex trafficking occurs, the campaign by Tribal Worldwide Toronto uses search engine marketing to target people searching for hotel accommodation in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to serve them digital banner ads for Hotel De Jeunesse, a fake hotel found online. At first glance, the site appears like an innocuous hotel site, with nothing out of the ordinary; but upon further inspection it becomes clear to users that it’s not a real hotel; but rather a powerful tool to educate the public on the disturbing displays of human trafficking.

“We wanted to reach people right before they entered into a known human trafficking hotspot so they could help us fight this problem. By creating a presence on travel-related platforms and in those micro-moments, we are able to unpack what signs to look for,” says Marketa Krivy, executive creative director, Tribal Worldwide Toronto. “The signs of human trafficking hide in plain sight and can be easily dismissed if you don’t know what to look for. But once you do, it becomes much harder to ignore.”

The campaign also includes out-of-home placements across the GTA including, transit shelter ads, elevator advertising, TTC digital screens, advertising at gas stations and Mac’s convenience stores, and carousel ads on Facebook and Instagram targeting people with travel interests. The creative discreetly places the scenes and signs of human trafficking within the patterns of hotel room fabrics, including the wallpaper, bedding and drapes.

This is the first time Toronto Crime Stoppers has launched a campaign that focuses on human trafficking. It will run across the GTA for five weeks with OMD responsible for the media strategy and placement.

Indicators that can point to sex trafficking include:

  • High-end vehicles driven by a young male and occupied by young females
  • Large age discrepancy between male and female in company of each other with no reasonable explanation for the relationship
  • Young girls with inappropriate beauty maintenance for their age range and or destination
  • Young girls in possession of expensive clothing, phones, jewelry with no reasonable means to afford the possessions
  • Young girls who are underweight and appear malnourished
  • Excessive activity on social media

About Toronto Crime Stoppers
Crime Stoppers is a collaboration involving the police, community and the media, which began in Toronto in 1984, as a way to solve and prevent crime. Crime Stoppers provides citizens with a vehicle to anonymously supply the police with information about a crime or potential crime of which they have knowledge. Cash rewards of up to $2,000 are offered to people who call the program and their information leads to an arrest.

About Tribal Worldwide
Tribal Worldwide, a global creative agency, draws on its expertise in digital innovation as well as its heritage of creativity and insights to craft effective marketing solutions that connect brands to people. Founded in 2000, Tribal Worldwide consists of 60 offices in over 42 countries with headquarters in New York, NY and Canadian offices, in Toronto and Vancouver. Tribal Worldwide’s Canadian operation was also honoured with strategy magazine’s Digital Agency of the Year award in 2012, 2013 and 2015, was ranked #2 agency in Canada by the Gunn Report in 2015 and was ranked #3 Top Creative Agency in Strategy’s 2016 Creative Report Card.

– 30 –

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Paige Calvert

[1] National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking – 2012