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Visualizing the harm caused by microaggressions with Zulu Alpha Kilo

June 14, 2023 | 5 min read

The campaign won in the Public Sector/Charity/Not-for-Profit category at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas 2023.

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Credit: Zulu Alpha Kilo

Not all acts of bias are easy to see or identify. Some can only be felt. Microaggressions are subtle actions, assumptions or comments that, regardless of intention, can have a harmful impact on people’s mental and physical health. Those who are on the receiving end of microaggressions often find the experience confusing or invalidating.

The Brief

The challenge isn’t just to create awareness about microaggressions; it’s to help foster the self-awareness that’s required to prevent them. To that end, Canada’s leading DEI organizations – the Black Business and Professional Association, the Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity and Workplace Equity, Pride at Work and Toronto Metropolitan University’s Diversity Institute – joined forces to create behavioral and societal change.

The Idea

Zulu Alpha Kilo began by launching the Micropedia of Microaggressions, the first encyclopedia of microaggressions. While the Micropedia provided an educational tool, it also needed a way to connect with individuals on a deeper level.

Microaggressions are sometimes described as “a death by a thousand cuts” due to their frequent occurrence to the fact that they can wear a person down, emotionally and physically, over time. Inspired by that notion, Zulu Alpha Kilo created a traveling art exhibit, ’Worn Down by Words,’ that spotlighted common microaggressions situated outside silhouettes of human heads. Each piece illustrated both the microaggression itself as well as the internalized thought or trauma that it can produce.

Emulating an exhibit experience, the art was accompanied by plaques containing the Micropedia’s mission statement, as well as a QR code connecting viewers to the resource. By getting the Micropedia in as many hands as possible, the agency aimed to create a safer society for everyone.

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The Results

The ’Worn Down by Words’ exhibit has lined the halls of multiple galleries, schools and public organizations. Visits to the Micropedia have remained steady since it was launched and those visits have spiked significantly – in one case by more than 13,000 new visitors – during periods in which ’Worn Down By Words’ is on display.

This campaign won at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas 2023. Find out more about The Drum’s Global Awards program or head to our case studies hub to read more award-winning stories.

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