In Atlanta, traffic is a fact of life. Our busy streets are a glaring problem and, occasionally, a national punchline. We love to talk and complain about it. But there’s a bigger issue that Atlanta doesn’t like to talk about: child sex trafficking.
Atlanta is a global hub for business and travel featuring the world’s busiest airport. Unfortunately, that also makes it a major hub for domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST). Every year, up to 3,600 kids are sold for sex in the state of Georgia. In Atlanta, it’s a $290 million a year industry that thrives in darkness.
With the eyes of the world set on Atlanta as it prepared to host Super Bowl LIII, Porter Novelli and sister agency BBDO teamed up with nonprofit Street Grace to change the conversation from “traffic” to “traffick.” The goal was to create a campaign that would be impossible to ignore.
In January 2019, we arranged for 72 school buses wrapped in anti-trafficking messaging to drive through the heart of Atlanta, creating a mile-long billboard that encouraged citizens to sign a pledge to combat DMST at StopTraffick.com. That’s enough school buses to fit the 3,600 children sold for sex – an arresting visual that brings to life the full impact of this statistic. We kickstarted the event with a press conference featuring the Georgia Governor-elect and other local officials before the buses made the trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Earned and social media results were overwhelming. In one week, it generated over 500 global media hits in top tier publications and over 160 million media impressions. Online, we saw over 50 million social impressions and over 70,000 social mentions.
This activation was a success thanks to a lot of great work from the team involved, and we learned some very important lessons along the way. Three critical takeaways include:
- Honor the Power of Two: One of the great benefits of working at Porter Novelli is our ability to partner with other Omnicom agencies, such as BBDO. The #StopTraffick stunt succeeded because of the teamwork across both organizations who lent their expertise to the project. Creative teams developed bus wraps that could be read from helicopters, media relations experts secured widespread coverage and digital strategists elevated the conversation to trend on social platforms. Whenever possible, we should look to the power of two to drive our work forward.
- Woo the Right Partners: Without the early buy-in of the right government partners, the event simply would not have happened. Government leaders in a variety of agencies, particularly Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and the Georgia Department of Transportation, bought in to the mission of what we were trying to accomplish, helped us navigate a variety of red tape and paved the way for us to make it happen. It’s important to have the correct players on your side
- Mindfulness is Key: Previous nonprofit events that have caused traffic delays in major cities have backfired in major ways. Drivers stuck in traffic simply don’t care what issue you’re advocating for if it means they are going to be late to a meeting. We worked with government partners to ensure our route and timing were notable enough to garner attention, while avoiding peak corridors and times that would have led to an unwanted negative backlash. We were mindful of our execution and therefore better positioned for success.
If you have questions or would like to learn more about #StopTraffick, please visit www.StreetGrace.org.