Using street messages for a social marketing campaign is venturing out on new ground. Okay, maybe not, but for our client and us it is. I guess you could call it a form of graffiti. The definition from Wikipedia says:

Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property. Graffiti is any type of public markings that may appear in the forms of simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire... Sometimes graffiti is employed to communicate social and political messages. To some, it is an art form worthy of display in galleries and exhibitions; to others it is merely vandalism.

Graffiti can reflect an individual or group’s presence, emotions, or political views. Sometimes the art is intriguing or beautiful, sometimes it’s just plain awful. Humans have this insatiable need to express themselves, be involved, communicate personal feelings and thoughts. (Boy, this sounds like Facebook and Twitter.) Truth is, I find this a very healthy practice. If we were not able to express ourselves, besides becoming very repressed and unhealthy beings, we would not have dialogue with others. We would not be able to “try out” our feelings and beliefs and see what they look like in the open air and see how valid they are. We would not have others respond to us, engage in a conversation about our thinking and experiences. It gives us a chance to hear another’s perspective, and who knows, we may change our thinking about something for the better.

Social Inclusion is something many Yukoners are not talking about. This campaign is using the medium of graffiti, or rather sidewalk and walkway signage, to awaken those who are happily included in all of Yukon life. We want them to pause when they read “You don’t belong here” or “You can’t work here” and feel for a moment what exclusion feels like. It is to create awareness that it exists, stimulate dialogue and encourage thinking on how we can change to include everyone. Not all responses will be positive, but that is okay as long as it gets the conversation started.

Yes, this medium is new for us and our client. I watched the aasman team work very hard with the client to develop a strategy that would deliver a meaningful impact, to get approvals and support of the city and local businesses, and to finally work all night to get messages painted accurately and cleanly around town. Today we all wait to see what impact they will have and to hear from our fellow Yukoners.

Photography: Christian Kuntz



by Murray

Using negative commentary for a positive result is just wrong thinking IMO. My only response on seeing “YOU don’t belong HERE” was a bad taste in my mouth for a while (reinforced by seeing it here).


by taibhsearachd

Kudos to Aasmans and your client for trying to address this important issue. However I fear that the messages are being misunderstood, resulting in some upset Yukoners and tourists who have totally missed the point. How will you determine if this campaign has done what it was meant to do?


by margriet Aasman

The intention of the campaign is to heighten awareness and start dialogue about social inclusion and exclusion. That sure happened with all the media coverage it received and the continued comments on it. We thank you for yours. The campaign is meant to jar people who don’t know what it feels like not to participate fully in a community, not to be able to read something, get to where they want to go, or have proper housing. It doesn’t feel good and it can make you angry or frustrated. We hope those who respond this way will visit to find out more and what is being done about it. Hits to the website will also help us to know if the campaign is working.


by included

I think it’s great that people are angry about this campaign. Social exclusion is so easily ignored, marginalized folk are usually overlooked and this is a message that clearly isn’t being overlooked, let’s see what the government does with the conversation they’ve started.


by margriet Aasman

Just a note to taibhsearachd and murray. I really appreciate your comments. After explaining the rationale behind the campaign, I am wondering if you still think misunderstanding or being annoyed by the lines is a problem. Do you have any suggestions for alternatives?


by taibhsearachd

I guess if the point of the campaign was to get people talking then you have succeeded. My question is: are people actually talking about inclusion or are they talking about other unrelated things? For instance I spoke with one tourist who felt the message being sent was that visitors weren’t welcomed in this town. They didn’t go beyond reading that first sign to the second and third ones so the inclusion/exclusion message was lost on them.


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