Toronto-based apparel brand Peace Collective aims to capture cultural sentiment in the clothing they produce, evidenced by items with slogans like “The Future is Canadian” and “Home is Canada”. From helping underprivileged children to aiding new immigrants to Canada, the brand uses proceeds from their sales to make a positive impact on their community.
That mission put them in a unique position to spark a conversation around a culturally relevant item of clothing: Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” (MAGA) hat. Peace Collective knows the power clothing has to make a symbolic statement. It can unite us in a shared identity and express a belief or point of view. The MAGA hat is an example of that at its worst – by 2019, no piece of clothing has been as polarizing.
Canada values inclusion, so our target was easy to identify: all Canadians aligned to the value of diversity and acceptance. Inclusion is not just the smart thing to do; it is the right thing to do. The founders of Peace Collective, as first- or second-generation Canadians, wanted to redefine all that the MAGA hat represents and further their mission of doing good by subverting the negativity it symbolized in a uniquely Canadian way.
To speak to Canadians and combat the hate that hat embodied, we needed to not only dismantle it but create a new symbol of openness and diversity.
The brief was to tap into the current cultural climate and create a new campaign to increase awareness and positive sentiment for Peace Collective, while sparking a conversation on acceptance and discrimination. In keeping with the brand’s tradition, the campaign also needed to do good in the community – by raising money for a local charity that helps new Canadians settle in. The challenge was compounded by a media budget of precisely $0.
Rather than doing a traditional marketing campaign, we recommended a fresh twist on what they’re already known for: Create an item of clothing with the power to make a meaningful social statement and to develop a newsworthy campaign.
We took an official MAGA hat and unstitched it letter by letter, then repurposed the discarded thread to stitch the warm and welcoming message “Welcome to Canada” on a toque, a distinctly Canadian winter hat. The brand communicates primarily through social media and, knowing we had a captive audience at our fingertips, we teased the launch on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter in the three days leading up to the launch of the long-form film and “Welcome to Canada” toque.
The toque was unveiled on Peace Collective’s social media channels and their newsletter with the hashtag #UnravelHate. A film captured the reactions to the MAGA hat and toque from five new Canadians, both immigrants and refugees, who felt welcomed in Canada. We auctioned off the original toque made with the actual thread. Replicas of the “Welcome to Canada” toque were sold online, with profits going to WoodGreen Community Services, a United Way partner charity that helps refugees and immigrants settle into their new lives in Canada.
#UnravelHate was Peace Collective’s most successful communication effort ever, generating the company’s highest levels of engagement across every social media platform. The toque was so well-received that the collection was made permanent when it re-launched in Fall 2019 and expanded to include other items of clothing to provide ongoing and meaningful support to WoodGreen Community Services.
The campaign results included the following:
• Over 50 pieces of coverage on national news outlets, radio, and press in Canada and internationally
• 2,340,000 social media shares
• 4,600,000 video views
• 125% increase in positive brand sentiment on Instagram
• 500% increase in engagement on Facebook
Clios - Bronze
Communication Arts Competition
Kinsale Shark Award
The Drum Award