2016 Winners

SILVER: Cause/Public Service
BRONZE: Challenger Strategy

The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity

The Gay Sweater

Saatchi & Saatchi Canada

The marginalization of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) youth is a society-wide problem. Everywhere, from mainstream media to the classroom to the workplace, homophobia leads to painful forms of discrimination. At its mildest, this discrimination can leave LGBT people feeling like outsiders. At its worst, it can lead to mental distress, physical assaults, and even thoughts of suicide among those being victimized.

Acceptance of those who identify as LGBT starts when people have a deeper understanding of how offensive the misuse of terms like "so gay" can be. Many people have used the word "gay" to describe it in a negative way (for example, "That movie was so gay" or "Those shoes are so gay").

The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) wanted to change this behaviour and use the widespread misuse of "gay" to its advantage. To get the public to think about how psychologically damaging that language can be on gay people (and gay youth in particular) the CCGSD set out to show how silly calling things "gay" really is, and ultimately get people to use it the right way.

Working with Saatchi & Saatchi, CCGSD created the world's first and truly gay object: the "Gay Sweater." The jumper was made entirely of human hair taken from gay men and women. Gay people donated their hair, which was then used to knit the Gay Sweater, with the entire process filmed and used in an online video.

The "Gay Sweater" launched during Toronto Fashion Week with the hashtag #thegaysweater. The organization worked with influencers both inside and outside of the gay community to spread the word about the project. All of the campaign elements were housed on a microsite, where the public could watch films about how the sweater was made, the meaning of the word "gay" and how damaging the misuse of the word can be to those in the gay community. The site also included downloadable education packages on gender diversity for teachers to use in classrooms.

The "Gay Sweater" received news and media coverage worldwide, including CBC, CTV national news and several of Canada's leading newspapers. The campaign generated over $1.1 million in earned media (more than five times the initial goal). It generated over 165 million impressions in the first week (more than 6 times the initial goal), including 45 million mainstream media impressions in the first three days. These mainstream media mentions led to a quality score of 94% (versus the initial goal of 75%).

#TheGaySweater generated nearly 16 million impressions on Twitter. On Facebook, it generated over six million impressions. And the "Gay Sweater" videos received more than 110,000 organic views.

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Client: The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Canada

Executive Creative Director: Brian Sheppard

Group Creative Directors: Matt Antonello, Joel Arbez

Art Directors: Joel Arbez, Rachel Kennedy

Copywriters: Matt Antonello, Shauna Roe

Head of Production: Michelle Orlando

Producer: Rebecca Adams

Director: Reynard Li

Editors: Chris Murphy (Relish), Ryan Denmark, Dylan O’Donnell

Photographers: Philip Rostron (Instil), Vicky Lam (Westside), Rob Butterwick

Developers: TPM Communications

Music: Dustin Anstey (RMW)

Colour: Smith

PR: Republic (Canada), Golin (USA and UK)

For submission inquiries, please contact Clare O'Brien at cobrien@brunico.com.
For partnership inquiries, please contact Neil Ewen at newen@brunico.com.