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Describe the cultural/social/political climate in your region and the significance of your campaign within this context

On the heels of the 2016 Presidential election, racism was openly on display in America like never before seen in the modern era. White supremacists, Neo-Nazis and racists of all stripes, emboldened by divisive rhetoric during the election cycle, burst on to the scene. This was most prominently shown at the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, where a white supremacist ran over a protestor, killing her, but it was even more prevalent in the media and social media.

Racist troll culture pervaded Twitter and Facebook and YouTube with little pushback from the social media platforms, who had no interest in enforcing their own Terms of Service regarding hate. Websites pumping xenophobic messages about Immigrants and articles denigrating the Black community and women were found all over the Internet. Payment platforms like PayPal and Square were allowing Nazi groups to fund their activities. Video game systems were being used to recruit new members into racist organizations. Even more cautious TV networks began to get more radical on the air, vilifying everyone from Muslims to legal immigrants.

None of it had been pushed back yet. But that was about to change. Led, in large part, by Sleeping Giants.


Sleeping Giants is a campaign for advertiser responsibility aimed at defunding bigotry in media and social media.

Started anonymously by Matt Rivitz, a freelance copywriter, after the shocking discovery that the world's biggest advertisers were funding Breitbart, Steve Bannon's "platform for the alt-right", Sleeping Giants was initially just a Twitter account aimed at informing unknowing advertisers that their ad dollars were funding things like a "Black Crime" tag for articles only about crimes perpetrated by the Black community and articles like "Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage." So far, over 4,250 advertisers have left the site,

Despite the founder being exposed by a far-right website in July, 2018, opening up his family to widespread harassment and death threats, Sleeping Giants has continued to grow in size and scope, with chapters now in 11 countries and territories, 350,000 members worldwide and numerous successful projects outside of Breitbart.

Describe the creative idea

Sleeping Giants was born out of the idea that corporations should not fund bigoted content with their advertising dollars.

Being in the advertising business, we knew that companies wanted to appeal to not only a diverse group of consumers, but to an equally diverse group of employees as well. We also quickly noticed that these companies had no idea that they were being placed on bigoted websites by programmatic ad companies like Google and Facebook.

Armed with this knowledge, Sleeping Giants set out to ask advertisers not to support websites like Breitbart, whose content was aimed at everyone from people of color to immigrants to women to the LGBTQ community.

This wasn't an advertising idea. This was an idea to change the business of advertising.

Describe the strategy

There was no research. There was no brief. There was no creative work to be done.

The only strategy behind Sleeping Giants was to get the attention of major advertisers, ad tech companies, social media giants and the press. And do it with no real industry influence, no public face and no money.

After hearing a friends' story that airlines generally have a social media manager on Twitter who will send free miles to your frequent flier account if you're severely delayed, founder Matt Rivitz decided to set up an anonymous Twitter handle using an anonymous Gmail account and tweet a screenshot of an ad for the first company he saw appear on Breitbart to their corporate Twitter handle.

Within 30 minutes, the company responded, saying that they had no idea how their ad got there and promised to remove it.

The strategy worked.

Describe the execution

Once it was established that corporations would respond to our anonymous Twitter handle regarding ads on Breitbart, the execution was already established. The problem was that because Google and Facebook would not remove Breitbart from their ad networks, ads continued to show up on the site by the hundreds everyday. We needed to grow. And fast.

As companies began to remove themselves, the press began to take interest and the following grew. Instead of simply having followers watch the main account contact advertisers, a set of directions was created for everyone to contact advertisers themselves, tagging @slpng_giants on each tweet. Immediately, dozens of advertisers were leaving each day.

Soon, team member Nandini Jammi was added, starting the Sleeping Giants Facebook account and using the same execution there, adding to the numbers of advertisers and community members as well. This is how each Sleeping Giants action has worked to this day.

List the results

Sleeping Giants, for what was supposed to be a two week project, has surprisingly grown into a full-blown International movement that hasn't just been responsible for the way companies place ads, but in a shift in how advertisers think about responsibility.

Sleeping Giants itself now has 11 international chapters and 355,000 members worldwide. Over 4,250 advertisers have left Breitbart. In addition, Sleeping Giants has either been partially or wholly responsible for Bill O'Reilly being forced to step down from his longtime show on Fox after allegations surfaced about his serial sexual harassment, Breitbart backer Robert Mercer leaving his CEO post at Renaissance Technologies after an article exposed that Breitbart was working with white supremacists, Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones being deplatformed from every major social media outlet and, most recently, dozens of advertisers leaving Fox's Tucker Carlson Tonight after his comments that Immigrants make our country "poorer and dirtier".

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