Responses by Xavier Blais and Maxime Sauté, creative directors, Rethink
Background: Each year, on May 17, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia tackles a new issue facing the LGBTQ+ community. For its 16th year, the Fondation Émergence (Emergence Foundation) wanted to talk about cyberhomophobia and cybertransphobia. We wanted people to realize that there’s a double standard when it comes to online intimidation. People would never say what they say online in a real life situation.
Reasoning: We placed wild postings on an actual, physical wall as a metaphor for an online feed. We chose 74 online homophobic remarks in French and English and posted them on two palisades in the center of Montréal. Transposing the remarks in an OOH context gave them an incredible impact and really challenged people. The most interesting fact was that in real life, people called the police in twenty minutes, but those exact same messages still remain online—some of them for more than five years.
Challenges: Going through six years of online hate to extract the most challenging messages. Some of them were hard to find, and for others, we had to go deep into hate groups, comments sections and obscure sections of the Internet. The other thing was the onboarding of partners. Luckily, Publicité Sauvage (the wild postings company) saw beyond the OOH play and came through as a great supporter of the cause.
Visual influences: We wanted to break away from the online, text and messenger look-and-feel. The design of the messages had to be simple to let the words and their meanings stand out. A great inspiration was the VICELAND identity by Gretel creative director Ryan Moore. The use of monochromic colors and the tiling of the messages helped them break through and pedestrians’ reactions were instantaneous.
Time constraints: The one-minute fifteen-second video “Brutal Postings” was a last-resort, two-minutes-to-midnight, bonus-slide presentation idea. We went through three rounds of creative, not quite nailing it. But, we pushed through until the very last second and the client loved it. We hated the idea of not being able to get something out this year and it pushed us to be more relentless.
Alternative approach: We would transpose the same idea to other communications mediums from the get go. The project had a really good response, so we’re doing a second offensive on radio and online for Pride Month.