Sex work is misunderstood, stigmatized, and criminalized in New York as well as in most countries. Mistreating sex workers and denying them basic human rights is counterproductive to their wellbeing and propagates a harmful misrepresentation about the industry and those who serve in it.
In partnership The Soze Agency, The Open Society Foundations produced a Sex Workers’ Pop-Up Exhibition aiming to give sex workers a seat at the table in the conversation about their industry while helping visitors rethink how society defines work. F.Y. Eye was brought in to plan and execute a citywide out-of-home media campaign to raise awareness about the exhibit and to help reduce stigmas that surround sex workers and their communities.
In New York, many out-of-home media companies are often subject to policies that restrict their ability to disseminate content that may be construed as advocacy and/or solicitation of sex. F.Y. Eye was tasked with reframing the campaign in a way that would be acceptable to key media partners and negotiating steep discounts to keep the campaign in budget.
We were able to leverage our relationships with major media partners to secure premium media real estate at discounted rates for the promotion of the pop-up exhibit.
We strategized to reach a broad population of New York residents and tourists through a diverse media mix, of bus shelter displays, interior subway ads, a Times Square billboard, as well as our own community media cooperative the PSA Network.
The multifaceted campaign exposed a new, broader audience to the bold “Sex Work is Work” message in a variety of different environments in the month leading up to the exhibit.
The Pop-Up proved to be a resounding success. The exhibition was on pace to shatter expectations and welcome over 10,000 visitors –– before COVID-19 forced an early closure.
Based on an in-person survey of hundreds of people who attended the exhibit, we gleaned that 43% of attendees first learned of the Pop-Up from our MTA ads.
Furthermore, F.Y. Eye was able to save The Open Society Foundations $29,600 nearly $30,000 in media costs by providing donated ad space and negotiating steep discounts on media inventory from our partners.
In the end, this inspirational campaign lifted up the global sex worker movement and humanized the conversation on the sex work industry.