As fears about the coronavirus outbreak rose in the U.S. in early 2020, prompting racist hate incidents against the Asian-American community, IW Group’s “Wash the Hate” was the first national campaign to highlight the issue. What’s more, it did this during the pandemic shelter-in-place order, with no client and virtually no budget.
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Recognizing the need to act quickly, in just 10 days the Asian American agency conceived a social media and PSA campaign consisting of self-shot content by Asian American celebrities, influencers and leaders.
The celebrities filmed videos encouraging their communities and allies to wash their hands for 20 seconds while sharing personal stories about how the coronavirus and racism had impacted their lives. They featured the likes of actors Celia Au and Tzi Ma, who had directly experienced racial hate incidents; Ma was harassed in his local Whole Foods Market.
Each of the PSA participants shot their portion of the spot safely in their homes using nothing but smartphones. The footage was then compiled, edited and transformed into a broadcast-ready PSA that aired on Comcast nationally as well as running on social media.
The campaign generated more than half a billion media impressions, all from a budget of less than $5,000. This included 117 million total social media impressions and more than 400 million PR impressions, with mainstream coverage from ‘‘Good Morning America,’’ People and CBS News. National brands and organizations including Walmart, Nielsen, Panda Express, Nike, SAG-AFTRA and ViacomCBS also lent their support, and the campaign was endorsed by nearly two dozen community-based Asian American organizations.