Super Bowl XLVIII and Human Trafficking: An Outdoor Campaign Connect the Two, via Forbes:
Throughout Super Bowl Week a massive outdoor advertising campaign will be taking place in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area aimed at raising awareness about the domestic human trafficking crisis. As part of partnership between thePolaris Project and Clear Channel Outdoor, digital spots will appear on the stretch from Herald Square to Times Square that’s been dubbed “Super Bowl Alley.” In addition, billboards throughout the region will promote awareness, putting all too human faces on the business of human trafficking. The images in the campaign are simple black and white photos of the victims of this modern slavery epidemic. The messaging is direct. For example : “Human Trafficking was reported in all 50 states last year.”
It’s highly unusual for a serious public interest campaign to take place amidst all the hoopla surrounding this de facto national holiday. As much as its about football, the Super Bowl is a championship competition of splashy commercial messages. It’s especially true this year when Super Bowl XLVIII is taking place at Giants Stadium across the river from media capital of the world. Attempting to shoehorn in as serious message about human trafficking is a delicate business in such media environs, where people are expecting images of hot cars, hot bodies and cold beers.
“People who are interested in the Super Bowl are a lot more multi-dimensional in what they care and think about than we may give them credit for,” says Suzanne Grimes, president of Clear Channel Outdoor North America. “This was too golden an opportunity to raise awareness about human trafficking. It would have been irresponsible if we hadn’t seized this opportunity.”
The Super Bowl campaign has its roots in Grimes taking the helm of Clear Channel Outdoor a little over a year ago. Clear Channel Outdoor had been doing some regional work for Polaris, promoting the advocacy group’s hot line, but it seemed to Grimes much more was needed to be done to raise awareness. Human trafficking, estimated by the United Nations to be a $32 billion illegal business, is seen as more of an international problem than a domestic one. Grasping the scope of the problem, Grimes saw that Clear Channel Outdoor was well-positioned to give the non-profit a private sector boost it sorely needed. A savvy media executive, Grimes has held senior publishing positions at Conde Nast, and was most recently in a top post at Readers Digest before joining Clear Channel Outdoor. She understood that Polaris was up against an illegal, highly sophisticated industry. To raise awareness about what could be done to fight human trafficking, a sophisticated marketing campaign was essential for any meaningful impact.
The Super Bowl week campaign, which launches today, is scheduled to run for two weeks. Clear Channel Outdoorl estimates the anti-trafficking message will deliver 10 million unique impressions. According to industry estimates, if Polaris had to pony up for the campaign it would cost several hundred thousands of dollars to produce and place. Polaris has been eager not only to raise awareness that this is a domestic problem, as well as to push for stronger anti-trafficking legislation and enforcement. New York being a key target state for those efforts. “We knew we needed this kind of support if we were going to continue to make progress,” says Polaris Project CEO Bradley Myles. “We need to be front and center for there to be a major leap in awareness that this is problem. As the campaign says, this in an issue ’365 days a year,’ not just during Super Bowl week.”