Canadian Women’s Foundation blows whistle on abuse

July 04, 2012  |  Chris Powell

The Canadian Women’s Foundation has introduced a hard-hitting national campaign as part of what a senior staff member calls a “strategic priority” to raise its profile among Canadians.

Created by DDB Canada’s Toronto office, the pro bono “It’s A Girl” campaign is using TV, online, print and out-of-home to raise awareness of the issues facing Canadian girls and women.

DDB Canada was one of several agencies Canadian Women’s Foundation approached last summer. Sandra Diaz, Toronto-based vice-president of marketing and communications for the organization, said the agency was chosen for its belief in and understanding of its work.

DDB also created a new logo for the organization, which was unveiled along with a new website last fall.

While the Canadian Women’s Foundation has previously conducted local marketing around fundraising initiatives like Shelter From the Storm, “It’s A Girl” marks the first national campaign in its 21-year history.

“We’re one of the 10 biggest women’s foundations in the world, but tons of Canadians don’t even know we exist,” said Diaz.

“It’s an issues campaign to stir the pot and build education about the issue.”

A 30-second TV spot airing on Citytv stations across the country opens on a group of women gathered at a baby shower. The celebratory mood is darkened, however, when the new mother pulls out a whistle and is informed by the gift-giver that it is a rape whistle.

A super reading “1 out of 2 girls growing up in Canada will be physically or sexually abused” appears on screen.

The creative goal, said Diaz, is to dispel the idea that everything is fine for women in an era of equality. The objective was to be “provocative and bold” to ensure the message resonated with the target audience, she said.

Rogers Media donated significant media space across its portfolio of female-focused media brands, including Chatelaine, LouLou, Today’s Parent and digital channels. Out-of-home companies including Pattison, NewAd, Clear Channel, Lamar and StreetScene Media also donated media space.

One notable execution in Chatelaine takes the shape of a greeting card bearing the message “A Baby Girl!” on the cover. When the card is opened, it reveals the same sobering statistic. Print ads feature a series of helium balloons that combine to read “It’s a girl. She’s got a 50% chance of being physically or sexually abused.”

The Canadian Women’s Foundation’s mandate is built around three key pillars: violence; poverty and empowering young girls through education. The organization has funded more than 1,100 community programs aimed at helping women and girls.

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