Break Bread Smash Stigma
Bensimon Byrne / Narrative / OneMethod
GoldBest Experiential Engagement
SilverCause & Action
Public displays of fear and hate during the 80’s AIDS crisis are a painful memory, but that doesn’t mean that HIV stigma doesn’t still exist. It sits below the surface where it’s less easily challenged or discussed.
Casey House and its agencies Bensimon Byrne, OneMethod and Narrative conducted an online survey of Canadians and found that 70% would be ashamed to tell anyone if they were found to be HIV+. And, although the disease can’t be transmitted through food, half of Canadians said they would not eat a meal knowing someone with HIV prepared it.
Fear and discomfort keep HIV a taboo subject. The goal was to expose the stigma, challenge beliefs, and force the conversation.
The team’s idea was to create June’s, the world’s first HIV+ eatery, run entirely by an HIV+ kitchen staff. Named after Casey House’s founder, June Callwood, the team gave the campaign an equally compelling name: Break Bread Smash Stigma (#smashstigma).
Over three nights, Toronto diners could show their understanding and compassion, enjoying a meal prepared by 14 HIV+ people. The agency collaborated with Toronto Chef Matt Basile to train the volunteers-turned-cooks and develop the menu. Beyond the June’s experience, success in tackling the stigma would depend entirely on spreading the story.
The most pointed expression of June’s was developed for the media. As invites to the restaurant, the PR agency sent jars of soup made by the HIV+ cooks with statements like “I GOT HIV FROM SOUP. SAID NO ONE EVER.” And “FIGHT HIV STIGMA WITH EVERY BITE.” Even for the best-informed media, the soup was a visceral test of their beliefs and biases.
Journalists from the largest media outlets around the globe responded, including the Guardian, The Telegraph, NBC, BBC, Fox, CTV, Global, CBC, Vice, Huffington Post, Reuters, Canadian Press, NPR and People. Casey House had feature stories in 10 countries, gaining 834 million impressions, and counting. The team used targeted social media to build awareness of the event and spark conversation. Tickets sold out in less than two weeks. Within three weeks, we gained over a million impressions on Facebook, 900,000 on Twitter with 70,000 engagements.
Ignorance and hate were exposed in posts that were often difficult to read. Using #SmashStigma, it countered hate with facts and attracted a growing group of advocates who took up the cause. A Twitter poll designed to expose and confront stigma received 30,000 responses, representing an incredible 4% engagement rate. Eight thousand people got basic questions wrong, revealing their own stigma, which in turn provoked a larger group to jump in and advocate.
The campaign for June’s HIV+ eatery exposed HIV discrimination, fear, ignorance and stigma. Through earned media and social media, the stigma was revealed in stories and conversations around the globe.
Brand: Casey House
Creative Agency: Bensimon Byrne / Narrative
ECD: Joseph Bonnici / Dan Strasser
CD/Art Directors: Gints Bruveris / Meredith Klapowich
CD/ Copywriters: David Mueller / Laura Serra
Art Director: Carly Ouellette
Producer: Michelle Pilling
Group Account Director: Jill Engelman
Strategist: Aurora Stewart de Peña
Project Manager: Ashley Belfast
PMO Director: Amanda Hosford
Media Director: Thomas Shadoff
Media Buyer: Alex Gillespie
Media Supervisor: Darra Naiman
Jr. Media Planner: Ruth Rivas
Director of Social Media: Daniella Perruccio
Social Strategist: Courtney Dionne
Creative Technology Lead: Patrick Schroen
Director of Studio Production: Sanjay Mangar
Retoucher: Alex Chung
Studio Artist: Jacquie Dudley
PR Agency: Narrative
Managing Director: Sarah Spence
Account Director: Lauren Baswick
Creative Consultant: Katherine Flores
Consultant: Tory Nash
Account Manager: Yolonda Abrahams
Event Manager: Holly McDonald
Account Coordinator: Aaron Nilsen
Account Coordinator: Samantha Sartor
Production Company: Button Factory
Videographer: Julian Peter
Producer: Michelle Pilling Photography
Producer: Erin Reynolds
Editor: Tim Pienta
Transfer and Online Facility: Alter Ego
Audio Engineer: Bradley McClure
Broadcast Coordinator: Daniel Rankin
Photographer: Matt Barnes
Producer: Natalie D’Urbano
CEO, Casey House: Joanne Simons
CMO, Casey House: Martha Turner
Marketing Specialist, Casey House: Lisa MacDonald