We began by learning about sexual slavery in the US. Here are a few things that startled us:
Our plan was to disrupt the Final Four basketball tournament by viscerally exposing the reality of the sex trade that happens around it.
First we stripped away the solid sides of a box truck and replaced them with glass. Then we filled the truck with committed actors who agreed to portray young women and girls who had been sold into sexual slavery. Makeup artists applied dirt, scars and bruises, while directors coached the actors to appear as terrified captives.
From there, the truck headed into the huge crowds outside the Final Four tournament, where attendees found themselves within inches of this brutal, disturbing and arresting scene. Our goal was to snap people out of their revelry with a cold, hard look at the truth…but would it work?
Naturally, we were heartened that the media and social response was swift and dramatic. The story was picked up by journalists and bloggers around the world, and in less than two days, the related YouTube video had racked up over 150,000 hits. Eventually, it would reach over a million organic, nonpaid views.
But this, of course, is what we’d hoped for. What took us all by surprise, and touched us to our core, was when the FBI launched a sting operation targeting Final Four sex traffickers one day after our event.
Thus, here are the numbers that count most: 21 people arrested for child exploitation and 7 children rescued.
Best Outdoor Media
Gold – Marketing – Environmental/Experiential – Activism
Gold – Non-Traditional Advertising – Single Event
Gold – Public Service – Out of Home or Non-Traditional
Winner – Public Service Ad – Out of Home
Second Place Certificate for Outstanding Creativity – Outdoor