If you’re wealthy and white in St. Louis, your pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is seamless. However, if you’re poor and Black, your experience looks drastically different. People of color are consistently held back by the systems that should be protecting them.
ArchCity Defenders (ACD), a regional holistic legal advocacy organization that combats the criminalization of poverty — especially in communities of color — needed to create further awareness of judicial and economic inequities in St. Louis and invite people to join the cause as allies, advocates or patrons to help ACD champion change.
Our goal was to grab the attention of socially conscious St. Louisans who would be sympathetic to the cause once they were exposed to, or were reminded of, the realities and truths people of color face every day.
We wanted to increase engagement, donations and participation in finding a solution as well as boost overall awareness of ACD and its mission to create equitable justice and outcomes for people throughout the St. Louis region.
Primary and secondary research revealed many St. Louisans have a disconnect between what they believe is possible and reality. The idea of the American dream is hardwired into our DNA. Most people, especially the privileged, aren’t aware that not only is the playing field not level but the game is also actively rigged against poor communities of color.
If the American dream is to be realized, people need to be free to pursue their life’s goals without interference from a system designed to hold them back. People say, “The system is broken.” In reality, it’s racist.
We targeted the general population of the St. Louis metropolitan area who, based on their values and beliefs, would be receptive to our message. Their levels of engagement or activism may vary, but once a cause they care about is put on their radar, their eyes become opened. These are the people who want to make a difference but don’t know where to start. We therefore needed to shine a light on the problem, ignite people’s compassion to address the issue and ask for their support in combating it.
With ArchCity Defenders being a pro bono client, our paid media investment needed to stay very low, so we relied on a mix of integrated communication tactics that were more guerilla in nature.
Social – Organic social media was a primary platform, with our best-performing posts getting small boosts. On Instagram, we used trending audio for Reels to leverage the algorithm and get more exposure.
OOH – We plastered the region with posters, placing more than 250 in storefronts, on campuses, around telephone poles and more in key walkable areas, and placed two billboards along a major interstate into the city. Both avenues zeroed in on the areas our socially concious target frequented.
Beer Collaboration – We partnered with Earthbound Beer, a local craft brewery, to develop Justice for Some, a slightly sweet beer brewed to combat the bitter truth of racism in St. Louis, with proceeds benefiting ArchCity Defenders.
Influencers – Local social influencers were utilized for the beer launch event at a popular and eclectic local restaurant destination, providing an interesting crossover with activism and the foodie scene.
Earned Media – Local media attended and covered the beer launch as well.
Utilizing the above, we exposed the uncomfortable truths behind age-old American ideals and St. Louis beliefs in a way that forced people to stop and consider that the reality being covered up is that the color of your skin and economic status dictate your experience.
Campaign executions received different type treatments that gave a nod to something purely patriotic, Americana or St. Louis. To reveal the underlying truths, we called back to another era of social justice by using a typeface based on the 1968 “I Am a Man” Memphis sanitation worker protests.
Bold, thought-provoking and simple, our messaging forced people to face the inequities across St. Louis. It’s not liberty and justice for all — it’s liberty and justice for some.
Because we couldn’t rely solely on paid media, our work had to shout. Our grassroots approach boldly disrupted and opened eyes across the region. In doing so, we successfully raised awareness, facilitated education, and elevated the important work ArchCity Defenders does to combat justice system inequities and create a safer, more equitable St. Louis.
Our campaign landing page, beer launch event and amplified social not only helped us convey our message but also reach an even larger audience, producing valuable interactions with the brand throughout their website.
Overall, ArchCity Defenders has seen an uptick in awareness, donations and traffic since the start of the campaign. Our landing page and amplified social helped reach an even larger audience and produced valuable interactions with the brand. Other results include:
Increased website sessions and duration driven by social and QR codes found on posts and beer labels.
ArchCity Defenders “Donate” page views went up 89% compared to the previous period (06/01/22-09/14/22), with a 55% increase in unique page views, leading to increased donations.
Utilizing trending audio, the ArchCity Defenders campaign launch Instagram Reel garnered its highest-performing organic social content ever, with an 8.67% engagement rate and over 14K impressions (68% were non-followers) — all without any paid spend.
STL influencers’ social stories were shared to an audience of over 17K.
From a PR standpoint, ArchCity Defenders garnered additional earned media coverage with a reach of 3.72M leading up to the beer launch event.