The first product from Yeezy and Gap’s collab arrived with little warning earlier this month, via an audacious ad campaign that included posters, newspaper ads, and projections featuring only a photo of a blue puffer and a QR code. Unsurprisingly, it garnered plenty of attention.
To try and capitalise on this, the Human Rights Foundation created its own version of the poster in collaboration with ad agency Taxi, in the hope that it could raise awareness of the use of forced Uyghur and Turkic Muslim labour in the creation of products for the fashion industry.
The HRF campaign was created in the same style as the original Yeezy-Gap ads, though with a blue jumpsuit – the kind worn by Uyghur prisoners – instead of the puffer. The posters were put up around New York city, with the featured QR code taking those that scanned it to information from HRF on the issue and advice on how to take action.
“As many as one in five cotton products in the world are the result of forced labour in Xinjiang,” says Celine Assaf-Boustani, chief programme officer for the Human Rights Foundation. “This is actually part of a broader strategy perpetrated by the Chinese government — a system of abuse that has been recognised as a genocide by the United States. Genocide that fashion brands are profiting from.”
Key to making the campaign work was for the posters to arrive hot on the heels of the original Yeezy-Gap campaign. “Opportunities like this to make your message culturally relevant are often fleeting,” says James Sadler, ECD of Taxi Vancouver. “We needed to act fast and produce posters that looked as if they were promoting the drop of the next item so that we could use that Yeezy hype for good.”
The posters were accompanied by social and digital ads, with all elements in the campaign directing traffic to hrf.org/uncomfortabletruth.