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First-of-its-Kind Campaign Educates Migrant Workers on Their Rights and  Raises Awareness of the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline

Trio of agencies develop campaign encouraging those at risk of exploitation or those being exploited to call 1-833-900-1010

Jun 21 2023

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Strategic Objectives is leading a collaboration of agencies including GREY Canada (Creative) and Hotspex Media (Media Buy) to champion a groundbreaking campaign for The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking (The Centre), a national charitable organization dedicated to ending human trafficking. The multi-faceted initiative helps victims, survivors and those at risk of labour trafficking, with a focus on migrant workers in the agricultural industry. The first phase of the campaign raised public awareness on National Human Trafficking Day and it culminates with a digital and out-of-home ad campaign targeting migrant workers throughout June, when agricultural jobs are in full swing in Canada.

Labour trafficking is an issue in our country. Every year, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers come to Canada. While many experience a welcoming opportunity with fair pay, safe accommodation and good working conditions, far too many workers do not. Instead, these workers face violence, lies and threats. Temporary workers in the agricultural sector are at higher risk of exploitation due to precarious immigration status, isolation and language barriers. This is despite the fact that our economy and the food security of our nation rest in their hands.

Two-Phase Campaign Guided by Research

The campaign strategy is rooted in research and aims to inform migrant workers of their rights while spotlighting The Centre’s Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline (1-833-900-1010) as a valuable resource. The Centre facilitated consultations with survivors of labour trafficking as well as frontline service providers to better understand how to connect with migrant workers who are being exploited. These individuals can be difficult to reach as many live in rural areas, can experience barriers accessing community services and may have limited English language skills. Plus in many cases, access to information is controlled by their employer.

Strategic Objectives, GREY and Hotspex concentrated on what can prompt a decision to come to Canada to work and how migrant workers stay in touch with home. They examined how to overcome obstacles of rural isolation and the ins and outs of everyday life on a Canadian farm. As a result, campaign elements in English, Spanish and French include digital advertising on social media platforms widely used by migrant workers, ads in public spaces in agricultural regions, paid advertorials in home countries, and educational materials available to local service providers, religious institutions, unions and embassies.

In February, the first phase of the campaign focused on educating Canadians on labour trafficking. This is vital as Canadians play a role as employers and beneficiaries of the services provided by migrant workers. Appreciating a migrant worker’s rights and knowing how to spot the signs of abuse is the first step in making a difference. Strategic Objectives conducted media relations and worked with The Centre to secure spokesperson interviews and Op-ed placements.

Phase Two is now targeting migrant workers directly through various tactics. Designed by the GREY team, a series of five ads for digital and out-of-home channels focus on key areas of exploitation for migrant workers: pay being withheld or docked illegally, seized documents, restricted movements, unsafe living or working conditions and physical or emotional abuse. The ads feature powerful, poignant images designed to resonate with migrant workers. They also highlight the confidential and supportive nature of the Hotline and include a QR code to link to more information. Hotspex has developed a unique media buy with ads appearing on Social Media platforms and in communities where migrant workers gather.

Simultaneously, Strategic Objectives is working with The Centre to expand the campaign’s educational elements. A series of paid advertorials in the Caribbean and Mexico is spreading news of the Hotline in migrant workers’ home countries. Plus, a digital toolkit is now available to frontline service providers, religious institutions, unions and embassies across the country to propel awareness of the Hotline as a valuable resource for those in need.

Working Together to Change Lives 

“A campaign of this scope, targeting migrant workers directly, has never been done before,” explains Adriana Lurz, President and Partner, Strategic Objectives. “Labour Trafficking is a very complex and sensitive issue and a clandestine crime. It often goes unnoticed in our country because it is so difficult to address, and as a result, the abuse continues to grow. With The Centre and our agency partners, we are refusing to look the other way. Our Strategic Objectives Team is motivated by work that makes a difference, and our trio of agencies is working collaboratively to create change. GREY Canada brings unmatched passion and creativity combined with insight and empathy. And Hotspex Media supplies the unique thinking needed to help us reach the unreachable with this vital message.”

Strategic Objectives earned the opportunity to work with The Centre based on its compelling strategic approach complemented by its past award-winning work on topics ranging from sex trafficking and stopping violence against women, to international barriers to education for children and environmental sustainability. Hotspex was a past agency partner on an award-winning sex trafficking campaign, and through several years of working with GREY, Strategic Objectives discovered kindred spirits in respect to the creative agency’s level of care and compassion for making a difference on social issues.

Driven to Help

“It was a shock to all of us at GREY that these awful, cruel and despicable acts were happening in Canada – literally down the road,” says Mark Mason, Executive Creative Director, GREY Canada. “Many of these migrant workers are here to improve their families’ lives through hard work. Their fighting spirit has taken them so far, but at some point, we all need help, especially when facing such unfair treatment. Our team was driven to help these exploited workers and give them a fighting chance.”

“We’ve learned a lot about human trafficking through our past work with The Centre, but this campaign was one of our greatest challenges to date,” adds Josh Rosen, President, Hotspex Media. “How do you reach those who are intentionally being secluded and controlled? To find out, we went straight to the source. Survivors of labour trafficking shared their media habits and gave us a glimpse into life on a working farm. Frontline service providers shared the terrible reality that they see in these rural regions year after year. This all led to our unique media plan and we are honoured to help support these workers who give so much to our country.”

The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking operates The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, a confidential, multi-lingual service that is available 24/7.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may be being exploited, if you want to access support, or if you want to learn more, call 1-833-900-1010 or reach out via chat at www.canadianhumantraffickinghotline.ca.

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