Young Ad Professionals Pour Heart And Soul Into Anti-Human Trafficking Campaign

When members of Ad2 Tampa Bay’s Board of Directors sat down to listen to the finalists for this year’s pro bono campaign, they didn’t expect to have their minds blown. They heard from several worthy causes in the Tampa Bay area, all of whom had lofty missions and goals. But, one campaign in particular literally made their jaws drop.

The Junior League of Tampa wanted to launch an anti-human trafficking campaign on behalf of the Community Campaign Against Human Trafficking – Tampa Bay. To help make their case, they presented eye-opening statistics such as Florida ranking third in the nation for human trafficking, with Tampa Bay being a hot spot. The most staggering statistic was that the average child sex worker is just 12 years old. 

“We had no idea that this issue was occurring right here in our own back yard. It hit us all very hard,” says Mandy Eyrich, public service director for Ad2 Tampa Bay, a nonprofit group of young advertising professionals in Tampa Bay. A “dream team” of sorts was put together to work on the campaign -- Mandy Eyrich, Randi Sether, Kelsey Farnell and Seth Chavara -- four young professionals working at various firms within the Tampa Bay region. The four also worked together several years ago at The Oracle as University of South Florida students.
The Abolish Movement

The team set out, first and foremost, to get the word out and open the eyes of the community in the same way their’s were opened. Once they started getting deeper into the issue, they realized that awareness would not be enough. They wanted to start a movement.
“Big things are done by people in masses coming together to make something happen,” says Eyrich.
The Abolish Movement officially launched in January to coincide with National Human Trafficking Awareness month. The team used guerrilla marketing strategies such as sticker bombing, where stickers were placed in areas likely to be seen by victims such as bathroom stalls of bars and strip clubs. They also created reverse graffiti, which involved stenciling the campaign’s logo into dirt on the street using a pressure washer.
In order to make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time, the team decided to unite multiple community organizations – churches, schools, businesses and government offices – with the same message. 

The team of four spent many late nights working as volunteers on the campaign, but thinking about the victims kept them motivated. 

“I’ve never felt this way about any campaign I’ve ever worked on,” says Eyrich. “The way the community came together with all of the different sponsors and organizations…the impact has been unreal.” 

Measuring Success

The National Human Trafficking hotline has reported a nearly 40 percent increase in calls from the Tampa Bay area since the beginning of the campaign, which has already led to 24 new cases being reported compared to the previous year. Discussions are now taking place with state agencies about potential statewide adoption of the campaign. The team hopes to eventually take it to a national and even global scale. 

The campaign has more than 100 community partners and sponsors in the Tampa Bay area, including Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Bright House, Creative Loafing, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Metropolitan Ministries, USF Health and Homeland Security. Ad2 Tampa Bay also received national recognition as the winner of the American Advertising Federation’s National Ad 2 Public Service Competition. 

“I pray and I hope that these victims start to see that their community is fighting for them and standing behind them,” says Eyrich. “They have a voice. They’re not just in the shadows anymore.”

Megan Hendricks is a native Floridian and longtime Tampa Bay resident who loves the culture and diversity of the region. In her free time she enjoys local restaurants, thrift store shopping and spending time with her family. She earned her masters of business administration from USF Tampa. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Megan Hendricks.

A Florida native and longtime Tampa Bay resident, Megan Hendricks graduated from the University of South Florida with a master's degree in business administration. She worked at the USF College of Business and has extensive community experience including the Tampa Bay Partnership's Talent Dividend Advisory Board, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Emerge Tampa Bay, Ekhos, and Bar Camp Tampa. She is a former board member and newsletter editor for Creative Tampa Bay. Megan enjoys telling the stories that make Tampa Bay a unique, diverse cultural experience.