Shopper Innovation Awards: Ontario government takes on ‘grey areas’

The sexual harassment ads targeted bystanders, calling on them to take action.

This story appears in the April/May 2016 issue of strategy.

Silver: CSR

Sexual violence and harassment are shockingly common in Canadian society. What’s alarming is that Ontarians perceive many forms of harassment to be in a “grey area.” The majority of bystanders tend to be passive observers, unsure of what they’re witnessing or if they should speak up. Only six out of every 100 incidents of sexual assault are reported to the police.

The Government of Ontario’s objective was to start a conversation that would eliminate any ambiguity around what constitutes sexual assault and harassment. With agency Leo Burnett, it landed on the insight that if you’re not helping the victim, you’re helping the abuser. For the “#WhoWillYouHelp” campaign, the strategy was to target bystanders and empower them to take action if they witnessed sexual assault.

The campaign launched with a spot called “Thank You” that ran in Ontario on TV, in cinema, as pre-roll and through paid media on Facebook and Twitter. The ad depicted “grey area” scenarios where the perpetrators thanked the viewer for not getting involved, before flipping the scenarios to show the victims thanking the viewer for saying something or getting help. Print ads ran in more than 80 different publications, as well as in bars.

The video was viewed more than seven million times within the first 10 days and the hashtag #WhoWillYouHelp reached 85 million people. The content has generated more than 120 million social media impressions, more than 39,800 tweets have been tracked (reaching 84.5 million people) and Facebook posts have reached over 1.9 million people.

The campaign was also featured on the websites of major European daily papers and received millions of views there and in Brazil.

Advertiser | Government of Ontario
Agency | Leo Burnett
CCO | Judy John
CDs | Judy John, Lisa Greenberg
Group CDs | Kelly Zettel, Sam Cerullo
CW | Marty Hoefkes
AD | Mike Morelli
Agency producers | Franca Piacente, Laurie Filgiano
Group account director | Allison Ballantyne
Account executive | Hazel De Vela
Planner | Brent Nelsen
Project manager | Lyndsay Cattermole
Photographer | Kristie Muller