Human trafficking, which is not typically perceived to be a problem in Canada, is one of growing concern across the country. More than 90% of the victims of sex trafficking within Canada come from Canada. Young Canadian girls of all socio-economic backgrounds, in big and small cities, are being recruited and forced into sex work. This week, Toronto Crime Stoppers unveiled a powerful new awareness campaign to educate the public on how to recognise the signs of someone being victimised and drive them to report suspicious behaviour by calling the 1-800-222-TIPS hotline.
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.
Sean Sportun, vice chairman at Toronto Crime Stoppers, said: “Human trafficking occurs closer to home than most Canadians realise, and the signs can be hard to identify or are easy to dismiss. Moreover, with the legalisation 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.” Marketa Krivy, executive creative director at Tribal Worldwide Toronto, added: “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. 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.
The 1-800-222-TIPS hotline team
Indicators outlined in the campaign that can point to sex trafficking include:
• High-end vehicles driven by a young male and occupied by young females.
• Large age discrepancy between a male and female in the 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, jewellery with no reasonable means to afford the possessions.
• Young girls who are underweight and appear malnourished.
• Excessive activity on social media.