WASHINGTON: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has tapped Ketchum's DC office to run a culturally sensitive, multi-language campaign aimed at raising awareness of human-trafficking crimes in the US.
"The US intelligence community estimates that 18,000-20,000 people are being trafficked into the US every year," said an HHS spokesman. Mostly women and children, such victims are often brought to America under the guise of becoming an American wife or domestic servant, only to be forced into prostitution or slave labor.
The first half of the two-year, $5 million campaign will focus on raising awareness of the problem among the people most likely to encounter such victims. Law enforcement personnel, social services employees, community volunteers, and even ethnic grocers will be encouraged to recognize warning signs common to abductees.
In the second year, the effort will expand further to reach victims themselves, educating them about the government programs available.
Because so few abductees speak English, the effort will be conducted in several different languages and aimed at a variety of cultures. Thus far, three subcontractors have been hired to develop culturally sensitive materials: Texas-based Cutting Edge will handle Hispanic outreach, California-based Magna will manage Asian-Pacific outreach, and New York-based Global Works will target Eastern Europeans.
"The federal government offers important support services for trafficking victims, but very few victims take advantage of these programs, due to lack of knowledge about their availability or for fear of deportation," notes Monica Marshall, an SVP in Ketchum's government marketing practice who will be leading the account.
"It's important that we do this with a great deal of cultural sensitivity, and not just translate an English message into different languages," she added.
Capital City Partners, a DC-based group specializing in coalition building and outreach to urban and ethnic communities, has also been brought on board to assist with outreach to NGOs and community organizations.
An HHS spokesman said there were three other Washington agencies to present final presentations, but declined to say which ones. He added that funding for the first year of the campaign had been secured in the FY2004 budget, and that the second year's funding is likely to pass next year.