White Ribbon campaign confronts definitions of manhood

It’s not everyday you see a message that’s meant to appall. But that’s exactly what posters and billboards from a new national White Ribbon teaser campaign were meant to do. Put up in the Greater Toronto Area in mid-November, the posters and billboards contained phrases like “Stop acting gay,” “Feelings are for chicks” and “Put […]

It’s not everyday you see a message that’s meant to appall.

But that’s exactly what posters and billboards from a new national White Ribbon teaser campaign were meant to do. Put up in the Greater Toronto Area in mid-November, the posters and billboards contained phrases like “Stop acting gay,” “Feelings are for chicks” and “Put her in her place.”

Todd Minerson, executive director of Toronto-based White Ribbon, an organization of men aimed at stopping violence against women, said in a release that while these statements are shocking, he believes “a provocative campaign was necessary in order to break through the negative messages that confront men daily and contribute to such harm to women and girls.”

On Monday, White Ribbon announced that it was behind the shocking posters, which initially simply included a prompt to visit Be-A-Man.ca. Originally the site featured a countdown clock asking visitors to come back on Dec. 3 to see which group did the campaign.

Then, on that date, new posters (pictured at left) were put up featuring a call to action for men to “write a new code of manhood.” The site was also updated and contains White Ribbon’s manifesto about how the concept of men has been restricted to “one-dimensional stereotypes that diminish our potential and restrict our contributions to a healthy society.”

In fact, White Ribbon recently completed a survey with men in Ontario to learn more about how they think about gender equality. It showed that more than one-third of them still “don’t think that sexist, violent language and the sexualization of women in media and popular culture helps to normalize violence against women.”

White Ribbon is also asking Canadian men to show their support of the efforts by hugging another man and then taking to Twitter to share the gesture using the hashtag #ManHug. “We can alter harmful masculine stereotypes one positive action at a time, and this is a simple one to help get Canadian men started,” said Minerson.

Young & Rubicam handled the creative strategy, advertising and media buying for the campaign. The agency has been involved with the organization on a pro-bono basis for a year. Mindshare assisted with the media buy, while Clear Channel and Zoom Media donated space.

PR is being handled by Environics Communications, which is also White Ribbon’s influencer marketing partner. The agency has worked with White Ribbon for more than four years on efforts, including on Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.

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