This is one of those advertising campaigns that really catches you off guard. The setting, Amsterdam’s Red Light District, hardly seems like the spot where awareness and conscious thinking about the issues of human trafficking can be spread, but perhaps it’s the location of this STOP THE TRAFFIK campaign that makes it that much more effective.
In the film, a crowd gathers to watch a group of barely dressed ladies bust some moves in the windows of a red light building, at the end they clap and cheer, and then wish they hadn’t when the message pops up above the building.
Why It Works
This is a really smart campaign for a few different reasons, and what I like most about it is that is doesn’t make you just feel bad, or even guilty. It really challenges the way you’ve viewed something (and responded to it) with the end message about human trafficking. Let’s break down why it works.
It’s Well-Located: The Red Light District in Amsterdam is considered by many to be the epicentre of much of Western Europe’s human trafficking trade, so it makes the most sense to stage the campaign there. Also, it builds on the promises made to the victims, while giving potential faces to them with the dancers who glare so hatefully at their audience.
It’s Well Titled: When this video went out on YouTube, it was titled “Girls Going Wild In Red Light District”. From that it’s pretty obvious who STOP THE TRAFFIK are hoping will watch the video, and the kind of audiences this message will reach. By targeting a predominantly male audience with this idea that something that might on the outside seem quite harmless (like watching a dance in the Red Light Distract) could actually be perpetuating and encouraging human trafficking, they’re really making a statement.
It Doesn’t Promote Guilt: What I most liked about this campaign was not that it made you feel guilty, but that it made you think about your own perceptions of the dancers. Watching it, and enjoying the performance, made the sudden and considerable mood change really powerful to me as a viewer, and obviously to the people on the ground in the campaign as well. It’s easy to make people feel guilty, and doing so tends to make people either ignore your campaign or push back. This STOP THE TRAFFIK campaign makes you understand that there’s more to this environment than meets the eye, and you need to be conscious and aware of that.
It Sells Nothing: Of course, what is most effective about the STOP THE TRAFFIK campaign, over other similar charity campaigns, is that it sells nothing. Yep, it’s guerrilla marketing for sure, but what it’s really selling is awareness. This is why it makes such a mark on its audiences, because they don’t have to do anything, don’t have to donate, don’t have to give or spend. They just have to be aware, and understand that their awareness is the first step in making a change.