Toronto-based apparel brand Peace Collective aims to capture cultural sentiment in the clothing it sells, evidenced by shirts and hoodies with slogans like “Toronto vs. everybody” and “Home is Canada”.
From helping underprivileged children to aiding new immigrants to Canada, the brand has always used proceeds from their sales to help make a positive impact on their community.
Peace Collective’s founders, all first- or second-generation Canadians, asked for our help in furthering their mission of doing good and sharing their values of openness and acceptance. Rather than doing the traditional campaign they asked us for, we recommended doing a fresh twist on what they’re already known for: create an item of clothing with the power to make a meaningful social statement.
Our objective: to spark a conversation on acceptance and discrimination, and increase awareness and positive sentiment for Peace Collective as company that advocates for social progress.
Clothing has the power to make a symbolic statement. It can unite us in a shared identity and express a belief or point of view. To spread a message of acceptance, we looked to today’s most notorious item of apparel: Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” (MAGA) hat. What began as a symbol of patriotism in the 2016 presidential campaign has morphed into today’s most-recognized icon of intolerance and discrimination. We believed we could create something that would challenge everything MAGA stands for and do it in the most-Canadian way possible.
The insight: if a hat has the power to create hate, it can also have the power to create acceptance.
We took a MAGA hat and unstitched it letter by letter, literally unravelling its divisive symbolism. We then used that same thread from the MAGA hat to stitch a new message of acceptance – “Welcome to Canada” – onto a distinctly Canadian winter toque.
We teased assets on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in the three days leading up to the launch of a long-form online film and the “Welcome to Canada” toque. The toque was unveiled on Peace Collective’s social media channels with the hashtag #UnravelHate. The 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 in to their new lives in Canada.
The choice to commit to the campaign was not without risk. The company is still young and taking on a phenomenon that had as much potential to rally trolls and haters as it did open-minded people, was a business risk. Despite this, #UnravelHate was the most-successful communication effort in the company’s history, generating its highest-ever levels of engagement across every social media platform – with a media budget of less than $100.
The results demonstrate the ability of a powerful idea to bring attention to social issues. The combination of a deeply emotional video and a social media strategy that generated exposure with the right audience drove incredible results: