Quietly Powerful PSA Reveals Sad Truth Behind Human Trafficking
Sadly, human trafficking can be all about the devil you know. Take Canada, for example, where authorities say nearly one-third of victims in recent years were trafficked by a current or former intimate partner.
Public Safety Canada delivers that message in "Uncontained," a quietly powerful campaign from the Banfield Agency and Scouts Honour director Mark Zibert.
A 90-second film, well served by Billie Eilish's moody track "The Party's Over," follows a young couple whose very relatable relationship slides into a nightmare:
"Part of the reason there's such a misperception about human trafficking is that the imagery associated with it looks like a horror movie," Banfield creative director Craig Lobban tells Muse. "A Google image search reveals handcuffs, people bound by rope, and mouths covered."
In many cases, however, perpetrators slowly exert control over months or years, gradually grooming victims before exploiting them for profit.
Zibert's understated approach reflects this reality, with the opening shot of a room-sized shipping container at night setting an appropriately unsettling tone.
"We wanted to contrast what you think—starting with a typical cinematic scene where you imagine organized criminals are moving humans—then transitioning to a quieter story, one that could look like a lot of relationships," Lobban says. "We hope to reach people in an unexpected way, alerting them that things aren't always as they seem when it comes to human trafficking."
Along with parents, the work targets Canadians aged 16-24. "This group is at-risk," Lobban explains. "They need to be aware of the signs and know how to access help."
With edits airing on TV and the full-length video posted online, the PSA drives viewers to canada.ca/human-trafficking and its (833) 900-1010 hotline.
Zibert cast real-life couple Justen Williams and Victoria Taylor in the main roles.
Taylor had little acting experience, but "this ended up working in our favor, because the chemistry between the two was completely natural," Lobban says. "Our actors delivered very comfortable, convincing performances we probably wouldn't have gotten with two actors who didn't know each other."
Zibert—feted for work touting SickKids, Kruger and Ikea—pushed the pair "to portray a volatile relationship—showing the hints of the manipulation and control that the perpetrator employs," Lobban recalls. "This led to broken dishes and intense moments between the two, as well as passionate moments."
Nothing's overexplained or belabored. And though the film contains no dialogue, it employs sharp visual storytelling to slice through viewers' psyches, driven by Elish's haunting soundtrack about twisted emotions and love gone wrong.
The shipping container imagery returns in additional campaign elements below, which show various types of sex and labor trafficking. Tragically, cases in Canada rose by a factor of seven over the past decade.
Campaign Title: Uncontained
Client: Public Safety Canada
Agency: Banfield Agency
Global Account Director: Kristal Felea
Director of Client Services: Veronique Gravel
Creative Director: Craig Lobban, Timothy Jones
Producer: Koa Padolsky
Strategy Director: Lindsay Gavey
Strategist: Mark Brownlee
Motion Designers: Devin Singleton, Brad Doyle, Madison Foran
Senior Writers: Derrick Outram, Sherry McPhail
Senior Designer: Stephen Pollock
Creative Designer: Katrin Emery
Junior Copywriter: Stephanie Heng-Yeoh
Graphic Artist: Greg Rouble
Photographer: Rémi Theriault, House of Common Studio
Translation: Christine Moisan, Aurélie Barbe
Production Company: Scouts Honour
Director: Mark Zibert
Producer/Executive Producers: Simon Dragland, Rita Popielak
Director of Photography: Mark Zibert, Eric Kaskens
Production Designer: Katherine Salnek
Production Manager: Brady MacIsaac
Production Coordinator: Chelsea Strachan
1st AC: Jackson Yeung
Wardrobe Stylist: Kate Day
Key Grip: Burke Goldstein
Gaffer: Sam Lebel-Wong
Casting: Jigsaw Casting
Casting Director: Shasta Lutz
Editorial/Offline: Outsider Editorial
Executive Producer: Denise Shearer
Editor: Michael Barker
Assistant Editor: Cam Anderson
Online/Visual Effects: The Vanity
Executive Producer: Stephanie Pennington
Producer: Katie Methot
Lead VFX Artist: Andrew Farlow
VFX Artists: Adam Silcox-Vanwyk, Kaelem Cahill
Colour: Alter Ego
Senior Colourist: Wade Odlum
Senior Colour Assistant: Erik Bayley
Producer: Spencer Butt
Audio: RAJAKOVIC ELECTRIC
Audio Director and Music Supervisor: Mark Rajakovic
Music: Billie Eilish "When the Party's Over" (English) and Mark Rajakovic original composition (French)
Producer: Nicole Rajakovic
Sound Design: Vlad Nikolic
Mix: Brian Bernard
Mixed at Signal