A script for talking about consent

White Ribbon and JWT created a starting point for conversations dads should have with their sons to prevent assault.

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For a parent, talking about consent with a child can be a daunting prospect. White Ribbon hopes giving dads a script will help make that conversation a bit easier.

This year’s #20minutes4change campaign, again being led by agency J. Walter Thompson Canada, saw “Consent Scripts” displayed in OOH boards, wild postings and printed on bar coasters across Toronto in multiple languages. The script provides a starting point for fathers to have a 20 minute conversation with their sons about consent. Partnerships with influencers, organizations and donated space from media companies helped to raise awareness for the issue on a national scale and get parents to view a version of the script on the campaign website.

The script went up on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

White Ribbon and JWT have turned #20minutes4change – previously called #20minutesofaction4change – into an annual initiative following last year’s launch campaign. The name of the project comes from the court case of rapist Brock Turner, whose father requested the court give his son probation for his crimes because he should not have to go to prison for “20 minutes of action.” The campaign aimed to turn that euphemism on its head, encouraging parents to take “action” by speaking to their sons about consent for 20 minutes.

The first year of the campaign was more focused on awareness, making parents (and fathers in particular) think of preventing sexual assault by educating their sons about consent so they don’t grow up thinking it’s okay to abuse a woman – instead of continuing to make young women bear the responsibility of stopping it from happening to them. But since that is a break from the messages that have typically dominated conversations about assault prevention, many fathers felt unequipped to properly have that talk.

“Last year, we had over 100,000 pledges and people got the message, but they were missing the ‘what now’ piece,” says Sasha Bricel, account manager at J. Walter Thompson Canada. “Dads want to talk to their sons, they see that they have the responsibility to raise their sons right. But they wanted to know how to actually do something about it instead of just sitting around and feeling shitty about how things work in the world. They want to help, but they just needed to know how to articulate it.”

The wild postings and out-of-home, in addition to the digital executions, were chosen to generate broader awareness, and Josh Budd, CCO at J. Walter Thompson Canada, says that the outdoor creative helps the campaign strike a balance between making the conversation approachable and accessible, while still communicating its urgency.

“If you walk into a Leafs game and you’re handed a script like this, you’re not expecting it, so hopefully it lands a bit harder,” he says. “Also, making the script available in so many ways means you can take a photo of it, you can download it, you can put it in your pocket, whatever. That way it’s not just an abstract representation of a conversation you might have, it’s a tool you can use to actually have that conversation.”