Inhuman Crime to be Solved at Times Square
Collective Liberty's Billboard
Award-winning national anti-trafficking organization Collective Liberty launched a summer billboard in Times Square in partnership with Neutron Media and generous donors. The ad is featured beside the NASDAQ ad space and above the Netflix ad Space in the prominent central location of Times Square. The campaign coincides with World Day Against Trafficking, and is meant to bring hopeful messaging that our world can be different.
While many anti-human trafficking nonprofits focus on the tragedy of cases, Collective Liberty is focused on the changes we see every day while successfully disrupting human traffickers across the country. This campaign also seeks to counterbalance the surge in anti-trafficking misinformation that has taken hold online in recent years. By providing data-focused, hope-based messaging, the billboard invites viewers to connect to the reality of this issue around them on any given day, and that this world is ours to reshape into one where trafficking is not tolerated.
Our goal with this campaign is to familiarize the public with the scope and severity of human trafficking in the United States and define it as a solvable problem as opposed to an inevitable “fact of life.” Based on her previous award-winning gender-based violence media campaigns in Philadelphia that redefined street harassment and our community’s accountability to ending it, Collective Liberty’s CEO Rochelle Keyhan aims to tackle the public narrative around human trafficking.
Human Trafficking is often considered an international issue, with people in the United States overlooking the instances of trafficking occurring all around them. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people globally. The Department of State’s 2021 Trafficking in Person estimates that 14,500-17,000 people are trafficked into the United States annually, while thousands of American citizens are trafficked annually throughout the country.
While we as a community become more familiar with human trafficking and its pervasiveness, we simultaneously become overwhelmed at the prospect for solving this problem. Collective Liberty exists to instill hope that if we work together, we can end trafficking together. This is our world – and we get to decide what we accept or fight.
Collective Liberty sees the change firsthand as
- our training has reached over 9,000 front-line workers,
- our innovative technologies have helped law enforcement make over 2,000 exploitation arrests, and
- the policies we advocate for shift the legal landscape of support leading to more holistic services for survivors.
This Times Square ad contextualizes human trafficking within the personal experience of being in Times Square, showing viewers the scope of potential trafficking happening around them, that they likely come into contact with victims in their day-to-day lives, and demonstrating how they can be agents of change. This messaging strategy aims to create new social norms around our collective responsibility to end human trafficking.
Most communications about human trafficking are emotional and sensational – understandably, since it’s such a devastating crime. However, the sensational approach frames trafficking as an inevitable evil to be feared, instead of an inhuman crime to be solved. We are flipping that script with the “Our World Could Be Different” campaign. Instead of framing human trafficking through a lens of fear or inevitability, every portion of the ad is displayed beside the bold, hopeful message that “Our World Could Be Different”- and this hopeful message serves as the closing call to action.
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Times Square is seen by millions of people every year, providing a major opportunity to raise awareness about human trafficking and cutting-edge practices in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting human trafficking cases. By advertising in such a high-traffic area Collective hope to reach a wide range of people and inspire them to get involved. Activists can explore the Collective Liberty website, use the hashtag #OurWorldCouldBeDifferent, and donate directly to this messaging campaign. Together, we can make a difference in the fight against human trafficking.