Public Safety Canada Aims to Expose Realities of Human Trafficking with New Awareness Campaign

An-eye opening new public awareness campaign commissioned by Public Safety Canada works to highlight the grim realities and prevalence of human trafficking in Canada.

Many Canadians have misunderstandings about human trafficking. This campaign was developed to highlight public misperception and encourage Canadians to get the facts. Human trafficking is a complex crime and is not what it seems at times. Traffickers get their victims to comply through different forms of coercion and exploit them through activities usually related to sexual services or labour.

Created by Banfield and directed by Mark Zibert, the human trafficking campaign launch video examines an origin point for some victims of human trafficking, exposing the reality that almost one in three victims were trafficked by a current or former intimate partner. The campaign video depicts the haunting story of how perpetrators can use manipulation, control and coercion within seemingly normal intimate relationships to take advantage of victims. Shot during COVID-19 with heightened restrictions and parameters in place, the intimate partners depicted in the spot are actually a couple in real life, with only one of them in the role of a professional actor.

“The main objective of the campaign is to highlight public misperceptions and help to define what human trafficking is,” said Lindsay Gavey, Strategy Director at Banfield. “95% of Canadians confused human trafficking with human smuggling when asked to define the term. This campaign aims to educate Canadians about the reality of this problem, along with its prevalence in Canada, and ultimately recognize the signs and take action to stop it.”

Human trafficking involves recruiting, transporting, or holding victims to exploit them or to help someone else exploit them, generally for sexual purposes or work. While most Canadians said what they thought was human trafficking is a serious issue, they felt that it was not a serious problem in their own local community. The number of police-reported of incidents of human trafficking however is on the rise in Canada – from 50 cases in 2009 to 340 in 2016.

“We were presented with a unique creative challenge for this project — one that meant confronting our team’s own misperceptions about human trafficking”, said Craig Lobban, Creative Director, Banfield Agency. “We wanted to create something relatable to the Canadian public — by evoking the common imagery many mistakenly associate with human trafficking — the shipping container. We debunk these misperceptions using the ‘Human Trafficking isn’t what you think it is’ campaign tagline and reveal that things sometimes aren’t what they seem between traffickers and victims.”  

This national campaign appearing across digital channels features different types of victims of sex and labour trafficking, all appearing within a shipping container to contrast people’s expectations of human trafficking with the reality of the problem in Canada.

The media strategy was led by Cossette, with Hype PR supporting on media relations. The advertising campaign is being supported by social ads on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat, in addition to online digital banner ads. 

If you or someone you know may be in danger of human trafficking, call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010. Get the Facts. Know the Signs. Report it at

Related posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.