Jamaica’s human trafficking awareness campaign

Jamaica has been addressing issues regarding human trafficking in recent times. In a press release dated June 18, 2013 from the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), of Jamaica’s Ministry of Justice, we learn that a number of public awareness activities have been implemented since April 2012 including public fora, outside broadcasts, the production of flyers, posters and other promotional material. Since then, attempts at further public education have been made.

On September 23, 2013, the International Day against Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking of Women and Children, a public education campaign against human trafficking was launched. This phase of the campaign included the production of 5000 flyers and 600 posters as well as the placement of messages on 13 buses which travel around the Corporate Area of Jamaica and the mounting of 7 billboards in major towns such as Kingston, Portmore, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril. The public education material were donated by the Military Information Support Team of the US State Department.


An example of the human trafficking campaign bus signage.

jamacia billboard

An example of the human trafficking campaign billboard.


An example of the human trafficking campaign billboard on location.

The billboard displays several messages:

Message 1:

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery.

Message 2:

Be wise, open your eyes, spot them, stop them, report them.

At this point it is not clear who is the “them” that we are to spot, stop and report. But one can assume it must be the traffickers. Then we are reminded by message 3:

You can help put an end to slavery…again.

And afterwards there is a call to action by message 4:

Call 811 or 1-888-protect (for child victims) or the nearest police station.

At the very bottom of the billboard, we see links to Facebook and Twitter which indicate that the campaign also utilizes some social media platforms. Apart from the words, there are three images: one showing hands tied and the other two representing the Jamaican coat of arms and the Embassy of the United States of America in Kingston, Jamaica.

The NATFATIP campaign also produced a poster that gives some more details. While repeating most of the information from the billboard, we are now given information on common trafficking indicators that relate to the victims of this activity. In comparing the poster to the billboard, we recognize more information is displayed on the poster than on the billboard – which is a good thing.

The NATFATIP campaign also produced this poster, which gives more details than the campaign billboard.

Above is an example of the content that appeared on 600 posters and 5000 flyers which gave more details than the campaign billboard.

Congratulations to the campaign designers for not repeating all the information from the poster on the billboard – as can be seen sometimes when some campaigns attempt to integrate their many messages for consistency. That would be too much information for a billboard which already has about 4 worded messages including phone numbers, along with 3 images, and 2 links to social media.

Several advertising experts will argue that effective billboards must contain only one simple message with few words – about fewer than 10 words. A quick review of these three sites (site 1, site 2, site 3) supports this argument. A billboard is usually placed alongside a road and is meant to be seen mostly by drivers. No doubt, pedestrians will be able to read a wordy billboard.  But drivers, while driving in free-flowing traffic, will only be able to see the billboard between 7 to 10 seconds, depending on the speed at which they are driving. The only time one can expect drivers to read a wordy billboard is when they are “stuck in traffic.â€

Arguably, if you are driving by a wordy billboard and you miss a part of it, you can simply finish reading it the next time you drive pass and hopefully the billboard is placed along your regular driving route, so you can keep reading it on each trip until you have read it fully. Some may argue that the human trafficking billboard is too wordy. Others may say that this is a serious issue and it needs a lot of attention, including many words placed on a billboard. But a wordy billboard is not necessarily an effective billboard.

Human trafficking is a complex issue and based on information from the June 18 press release, the NATFATIP of the Jamaican Ministry of Justice has been implementing not only public education initiatives but also training programmes and shelters for victims. Complex issues require not only a well-coordinated response but also effective messaging. I am eager to see the messaging strategy for future phases of this human trafficking awareness campaign.

Billboard and poster artwork were provided courtesy of the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP).

Strappy, the mascot from OPDEM

The first time I saw Strappy, it was not clear to me what is represented. I was told that it was the mascot for the Tropical Storm Gustav Recovery Project implemented by Jamaica’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) during 2009 to 2011.


Strappy, the mascot from OPDEM

One of the purposes of this campaign was to encourage persons living in the eastern side of Jamaica to engage is safer building practices in order to secure roofs during various natural hazards. Messages were disseminated using billboards and the traditional media platforms of radio, television and newspapers – details regarding how these message instruments were used can be found in the campaign’s publicity report.

The campaign also included a jingle Water come inna mi roof based on Lovindeer’s song “Wild Gilbert” which was produced shortly after the passage of hurricane Gilbert in 1988. Additional messages encouraged target audiences to make your roof hurricane proof.


OPDEM Poster – Make your roof hurricane proof

On ODPEM’s Youtube channel, several videos demonstrating how to make your roof hurricane proof have been archived.

Strappy was first introduced at the launch of Hurricane Preparedness Month on April 28, 2010. The mascot has been spotted on billboards even after the end of the Tropical Storm Gustav Recovery Project. It has also been present as cover photos on ODPEM’s Facebook page Thankfully there is a page on the ODPEM’s website which explains what Strappy is all about. It is here that we learn that Strappy is ODPEM’s “friendly hurricane strap mascot. Strappy represents a hurricane strap.

Mascots are memorable, easily identified symbols based on a person, object or thing. They are used in campaigns to help target audiences to not only identify and understand but also remember important elements of the campaign. Ira Kalb has described how mascots work and how to pick a memorable one.

At first glance, it is a bit difficult to recognize that Strappy is actually a hurricane strap, especially when you see only the image and do not know its name. Calling the mascot “Strappy” was a good move as this gives us a hint at what the mascot could represent. It is a good thing that when Strappy is mentioned on the ODPEM’s website, it is followed by the phrase, “the hurricane strap mascot”.

Ultimately, Strappy’s success will become evident when more Jamaicans use hurricane straps to ensure that their roofs are resistant to wind damage. Whether you know what it represents or not, heed its warning to “strap dem (i.e. your roof) down!”