Published On: November 2, 2022By

In short

Sex Ed for Everyone is an example of overcoming the awkwardness and shame associated with conversations about sex and sexuality, with the intent to link folks to a better resource for these conversations.

Sexuality Education Resource Centre MB (SERC) does sex education differently – they are sex-positive and inform from a values-based lens that leaves folks feeling empowered and in control of their bodies, pleasure and decisions.

SERC needed a brand awareness campaign to share their unique position and purpose in Manitoba. They were heading into their 85th anniversary celebration and wanted to begin to secure more private donors but needed to make an emotional connection about the value they bring to the community first.

We learned that, not only do they transform sex education in schools, but they help folks from every walk of life navigate conversations and questions about sex, whether they’re caregivers, newcomer adults, or teens grappling with their identities.

Methodology

We harkened back to our own days of sex ed and the notorious question box. SERC continues to use these to make those tricky conversations easier. It helps people maintain anonymity and not feel judged when they ask personal questions – an important aspect of SERC and the work they do. The fact that we had to return ourselves to high school to conjure memories of sex ed showed the very problem that SERC addresses: conversations about sex should be lifelong. So should learning.

So, we came up with a tagline, Sex Ed for Everyone, and conceptualized a bold video concept to show how desperately it was needed: we asked (and filmed) unsuspecting Manitobans questions SERC has been asked about sex and sexuality in teen clinics, in a public park. The video concept took a ton of negotiation. SERC was worried they could appear to be asking sex-related questions without consent, which is a primary value that drives their work. We made sure the tough, potentially triggering questions were directed to SERC volunteers, so participants were safeguarded. 

While we ended up creating a “Big Pink Question Box” to symbolize SERC’s role and work, we didn’t use that language as we agreed it was trying too hard to be bold and was distracting from the work. (But the concept led to other activations that helped the campaign tell its story visually!)

Execution

We began the project together in June 2019, with a series of workshops with their staff, volunteers, board and various stakeholders to find a succinct way to summarize SERC’s values and purpose. By July, we had our brand story and identity, and we had a video concept approved and shot in August. We launched the campaign video and assets at SERC’s anniversary celebration in September.

We created an overall campaign brand identity which included: tagline and logo treatment, primary/secondary colours, fonts, illustrative elements and guidelines for their usage. We created a “Big Pink Question Box” to house the questions for the campaign video that could be repurposed as an activation at their 85th anniversary celebration. And lastly we created a tent design so SERC could bring this along to workshops and large public festivals (debuted at their anniversary event) to create bigger visibility in the province, plus social media graphics to highlight the questions asked (and to answer them in videos) throughout the campaign.

As part of their fundraising efforts, we revamped a past merchandise design for “Love Carefully” sweaters that they sold at their anniversary event and beyond. We even turned small pink question boxes into donation prompts at the event and circulated the question cards designed for the video to foster conversations.

SERC was able to cement their story emotionally and visually to communicate to Manitobans the importance of their work. They raised their platform with this campaign and event, securing many new donors.

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Make It Easy to Help

Not-for-profits often have the best opportunity to make an emotional connection and appeal to a broader audience, because they have that kind of community impact embedded in their work. However, it’s essential to balance emotion with factual information, transparency and a clear call to action. Emotional appeals should be authentic, not manipulate or exploit people’s emotions.

Build Trust for Bolder Campaigns

Since non-profits are community-oriented and values-based, they are also incredibly cautious about any message that could be misinterpreted or misconstrued. They often fall back on what can lead to the least-possible amount of harm instead of seeing what a bolder message could convey. But when you build a solid and trusting client relationship, you can help them through a tough decision to lean into a bolder campaign. 

Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Brave stories that you can back up with truth are always worth telling and have the most impact. We’ve learned it’s worth pushing through those uncomfortable conversations to advocate for the best work – similar to the benefits of hard or awkward conversations SERC facilitates about sex!

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Outcome

The campaign for Sex Ed for Everyone has gone on to win awards and was recently nominated for a prestigious Anthem Award alongside celebrities and big brands like Netflix, The New York Times, the NFL and The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. 

Our client summarizes its success this way: “The video and campaign quickly and efficiently communicated the value of our work, which is shrouded in stigma in society, making it hard to talk about it, despite it being life-saving. In other words, you linked members of the public to our mission and cause, and that has resulted in acquiring over 300 new donors and supporters, which has led to raising nearly $50,000 that is supporting programs and services related to sexual health.” 

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