Cannes Lions

Stop HB2

MCKINNEY, Durham / EQUALITY NC / 2017

Awards:

1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Description

Each leg of our campaign served to keep the bill, and its negative impact on the state, top of mind during the eight months between the bill’s passage and the election.

First, we wrote and published a letter, signed by over 100 CEOs, strongly urging a repeal. When the governor wasn’t swayed, we wrote on a different kind of paper, putting the “bathroom bill” where it belongs: on toilet paper. We took our two-ply symbol of resistance to protests and sent it to local businesses, chambers of commerce, universities, and media outlets. Amid increasing boycotts, we launched Things 2 Love About NC, a YouTube channel featuring videos that, thanks to HB2, didn’t exist. When real bands refused to play, we reunited a fake one to fill in. Our fake band starred in a real documentary, had real really bad songs, and landed on the real cover of a real publication.

Execution

First, we crafted and released the letter urging the governor to repeal, including signatures from Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, the heads of Google and Starbuck’s, and 96 other CEOs. We sent HB2 toilet paper to journalists and bloggers nationwide, urging them to flush HB2 (after writing about it, of course). We wrapped protestors “mummy-style” in the toilet paper, and sent rolls to universities and businesses so they could join the protest. With Things 2 Love about NC, click-bait headlines (“Triple Rainbow!”) landed the videos on the Popular on YouTube section. And PR for the boycott band was appropriately absurd. We went old school, hand-typing a release on an IBM Selectric, snail-mailed to reporters with a Tiger Beat-like publicity shot. “Real” interviews were held with incredulous reporters who were eventually brought “under the tent.” The stories were as ridiculous as the band itself, inviting thousands of readers in on the joke.

Outcome

The CEO letter garnered national media attention as it represented the first groundswell of corporate opposition to the bill. It netted 352 million PR impressions, including coverage on CNN, NBC, CBS, Fortune and Huffington Post and in major dailies nationwide. Our HB2 toilet paper earned 82 million PR impressions and dozens of calls to the agency requesting large orders. Things 2 Love about NC garnered 39 million impressions and a spot on the Popular on YouTube page. And our boycott band scored 59 million PR impressions, landing on Funny or Die, the pages of Huffington Post and Adweek, and the cover of a nationally awarded Independent Weekly. That’s over half a billion impressions without the benefit of any paid media. But the truest measure of our campaign was felt on Election Day, when our governor was the only Republican governor not to be re-elected. Furthermore, his continued attachment to this ill-conceived bill was viewed as the reason for his defeat.

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