Building Awareness for CSEC in Tompkins County

Tompkins County Youth Services came to us with a tough topic to tackle: Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tompkins County. They were concerned that the issue is not openly talked about, making it hard for members of our own community to recognize the signs of exploitation, and in turn serve as a resource to a child in need. They were looking to create a campaign that would stand out: serious without being dark, positive but not cheerful, and impactful while remaining tactful.

Because kids and teens experiencing commercial sexual exploitation greatly fear speaking up against their own mistreatment, our first goal for this campaign was to spread awareness that sexual exploitation happens in Tompkins County. Our second goal was to help the community recognize the often intangible signs of sexual exploitation with our compelling tagline: “Can You Hear the Silence? Listen for the Signs.”


The next step was coming up with a visual representation of this tagline, keeping in mind our client’s initial goals for this campaign: being informative and impactful without being dark. After days of sketching, we came to the conclusion that a minimalist illustrative style would set this campaign apart from the rest.



The tagline paired with the minimalist illustration voices the message right away, in the right way. The posters are quiet…almost chilling. There are no photographs of crying children, or imagery of chains, or overwhelming information shouting off the page. The other elements of the campaign, such as the website, handouts and palmcards, gave us more room to be informative. The illustration style from the posters is echoed on the handouts, but this time is paired with a bit more copy. The client chose to extend the campaign into other media including mall signage, billboards, and bus ads throughout the region.