Approximately 3,600 adolescent girls are sold for sex each year in Georgia.* This staggering statistic is due in part to Atlanta’s visibility as a global business hub. It’s supported by a large convention and tourism industry and has proximity to the world’s busiest airport.
This crisis was set to worsen in January 2019 as the city prepared to host Super Bowl LIII. It’s a sad reality that, while the game brings large crowds and excitement, the excitement is tempered by an increase in sex trafficking. Which is why it’s no coincidence that January is also Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Our goal was to shine a light on the sex trafficking of minors through awareness, education, and action. And we knew Atlanta was the right place at the right time to demonstrate just how big the crisis is – and spark a movement to Stop Traffick.
*The Schapiro Group
With a diverse population of six million people unaware of the city’s sex slavery crisis, a newly elected governor motivated to make change, and the eyes of the world watching as we prepared to host SuperBowl LIII, we knew Atlanta was the right city at the right time to Stop Traffick.
Our approach was based on two insights that created a powerful tension. The first was the fact that sex trafficking of young girls is a horrific problem in Atlanta that no one wants to talk about. The second was the fact that highway traffic is also a problem in Atlanta – except everyone loves to talk about that. In fact, the city can’t shut up about it! So, we used the conversation around highway traffic to get people talking about child sex traffick to change the conversation. In other words, we used “traffic” to talk about “traffick.”
The cornerstone of Stop Traffick was a stunt that took more than six months to plan. It required citywide collaboration from public and private companies as well as 50 police officers and 100 bus drivers.
We wrapped the tops and sides of 72 school buses with Stop Traffick messages large enough for news helicopters to broadcast. These buses formed a mile-long, moving billboard, disrupting morning traffic across Atlanta.
A team coordinated live updates across social channels literally, changing the conversation from “traffic” to “traffick.” Video assets of the buses and survivor interviews were distributed.
Highway billboards, car and store decals spread the Stop Traffick message on the ground.
Georgia's new governor and business leaders were recruited to participate in a rally, bringing notoriety and commitment.
It culminated on StopTraffick.com where we promoted numerous ways to take action, including community watchdog pledges, money donations, and training requests for schools and businesses.
AWARENESS: Within 48 hours of the event, the stunt was covered in over 500 news stories, had 160M media impressions, 10.8K social media mentions, and 42M social media impressions. #StopTraffick became a trending topic on Twitter and overall Stop Traffick media mentions went up 4,500%.
EDUCATION: Information on how to spot the signs and details on what this crime does to young women were devoured. Facebook engagement went up 594%, page views went up 735%, and video views went up 175,033%.
ACTION: The single most important result was the intense focus the FBI put on human trafficking immediately after our event, which led to 169 arrests throughout Metro Atlanta.
As an aside, Houston was inspired to find their own “number of school buses,” sparking their own citywide conversation. Twelve more states are in talks to follow suit, proving #StopTraffick is, in fact, inciting a movement.
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