President Trump’s comments referring to certain nations, including Haiti, as “shitholes” provoked widespread anger and outrage. But one agency creative in the Caribbean nation is working on a more lighthearted response—raising money to run out-of-home and print ads in Washington, D.C., that aim to use Trump’s words against him to boost the image of Haiti.
Fabien Dodard, a creative director at Parkour Studio, has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise cash to run “shithole” themed ads for Haiti in the American capital. He has set a $40,000 goal, and raised a little over $2,000 so far.
The more money he raises, the more ads he’ll be able to run. The creative has already been produced, with headlines like “A majestic sh**hole awaits,” “You bring the sunscreen. We bring the sh**hole” and “Our sh**hole beaches go on for days.” There is also a letter to Trump that could run in The New York Times.
Here are mockups of how the ads would look:
The campaign is not connected to the government of Haiti or its tourism agency.
While the official fundraising goal is $40,000, Dodard would happily take more. On the GoFundMe page, he offers this breakdown of how the funds would be used at certain levels:
• With $3,000, we can have one billboard on the insterstate.
• With $15,000, we can have one billboard up downtown.
• With $20,000, we’ll have one billboard + some transit ads
• With $35,000, we’ll have 2 billboards + some transit ads
• With $40,000, we’ll have all of the above + some ads in a D.C. mall
• With $200,000, we’ll have all of the above + a half page insertion of our letter in the New York Times. (yes a shithole half page insertion in the NYT is very expensive…)
• With $500,000+, we’ll have all of the above and will invest the rest of the money in tourism projects and infrastructure.
AdFreak spoke with Dodard—a Haitian native who has worked at U.S. agencies Victors & Spoils, CP+B and Colle McVoy—about how the idea for the “Sh**hole” campaign came about, and his hopes for how it will proceed.
AdFreak: How did you feel when you first heard about Trump’s comments about Haiti.
Fabien Dodard: At first it felt like my country and all its citizens were being bullied. Further along, I started to realize the extent of just how damaging this could be for our country from an image/brand perspective, given the fact that this whole thing got so much press. It infuriated me.
How did you come up with the idea of countering those comments with this campaign?
The Haitian community got very active on social media when the news came out, sharing images and their experience of their country. The contrast between the word and the images being posted was quite powerful, and that was the seed of the idea. Now, in terms of making a campaign out of it, that was driven by our willingness to change the narrative around our country.
Do you think Trump is just ignorant about Haiti? Would running these ads in D.C. help him become less ignorant?
I can’t say if he is ignorant about Haiti. That would be ignorant of me to say, since I don’t know the man personally. I do think he is very reckless with his choice of words.
To what degree is this less about Trump and more about making sure people know the beauty of a place like Haiti?
While this campaign is all about what Trump said, it does address the public at large. We’re using the stage he gave us to showcase the other side of Haiti that has never seen the spotlight. It’s about showing the positives of Haiti, from its culture to its natural beauties, and to rise above the divisive language.
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