Your $90 meal would buy a human slave, says DDB Hong Kong anti-slavery campaign

The average price of a meal out in Hong Kong is the same as the average price being paid for a human slave across organised crime networks, a new pro-bono campaign by DDB has revealed.

Anti-slavery charity Hagar International commissioned the agency to drive home the message around an issue blighting many countries around the world, particularly in Asia.

With that in mind, a team filmed customers – at a busy restaurant in Hong Kong – being given bills that showed the number of people their money can buy, rather than an itemised menu for their food.

The experiential activation was named the ‘reality check” and shows the diners being introduced to some slavery survivors, who have been helped by Hagar. As well as the film running on YouTube and social media, a microsite was also created for Hagar.

“Slavery is not only rife throughout the world, but it’s also cheaper than at any time in human history, the campaign brings the cost of a slave’s life closer to home by unexpectedly incorporating it into restaurant bills,” said an agency spokesperson.

Hagar International chief executive officer Micaela Cronin added: “Many people think that slavery is a thing of the past, or something that is removed from our everyday lives.

“Our ‘reality check’ experience inserts slavery into the world of ordinary consumers by giving them an opportunity to meet those who have survived it.”

The campaign coincides with Hagar’s 25th anniversary. It is said the organisation has helped more than 19,000 people over the years – through its counselling, legal support, education and job training services.

“When you hear first-hand from people who have survived slavery and about the unspeakable physical and emotional suffering they have endured, it becomes impossible to pretend that slavery doesn’t exist,” said Hagar executive director Melissa Petros.

“It was important to include survivors in the reality check experience, not only to show that slavery is not some distant and abstract problem but also to demonstrate that with appropriate support they don’t simply survive what happened to them but go on to thrive.”


Executive creative director, Global: Jamal Hamidi

Associate creative director: Christel Chong

Creatives: Natalie Parengkuan, Aaron Cheng and Samantha Steptoe

Strategy director: Adrian Tso

Strategy planner: Karen Lew

Chief strategy officer: Andreas Krasser

Production company: MRJ Productions

Director: Ranno Ng

Producer: Joanne Tong

Client executives: Melissa Petros, Lilian Lee and Lara Wiemer


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