Signal for Help hand signals

Signal For Help

The Canadian Women’s Foundation

Juniper Park\TBWA


 Only one in six Canadians are confident they know how to respond to someone experiencing abuse. Even more shocking, 23% of Canadians say that intimate partner violence (IPV) is none of their business if it doesn’t involve them. Which means that 23% of those who signal for help may encounter someone unwilling to help. This made it very clear that the CWF could not just continue to raise awareness for the signal, they had to pivot and raise people’s willingness to respond, too. 

Our brief was to continue to raise awareness for the signal while also engaging people to help them overcome Canadians’ reluctance and ability to respond. 

Objectives: A further 10% increase in awareness and engaging 10,000 people to be responders.  

The Challenge

17% of Canadians weren’t sure how to reach out for help or intervene when it came to intimate partner violence.

Many of the 17% are also part of the 90% of Canadians who feel they have a role to play.  Showing that they have empathy, we know there must be a something stopping them from acting.   

We needed to find a solution that continued to drive awareness and that leveraged people’s empathy to overcome their inactivity. 

The Solution

If the Signal for Help was simple, visual and immediate, we needed the ability to respond to be as well. Text was our answer. We created a number – 540–540, the numerical representation of each part of the hand gesture – that Canadians could text, where they would receive a free action guide with the best ways to respond.

Knowing that people are confused about how to respond, we built a clear, simple and non-intimidating way to find out how to help. Just by texting Signal to 540540, people accessed simple and straightforward resources to guide the responder to intervene and provide help in a non-threatening and low risk way.

Overall, the creative built supported enablement and action in an environment focused on raising awareness and empowering those who are hesitant.  


The Results

2 billion
Organic Impressions
Awareness of the Signal in Canada
People signed up to become responders

The Responder campaign continued to bring awareness to the Signal for Help with even more velocity than the original campaign, garnering over 2 billion organic impressions with minimal media investment, exceeding client’s benchmark by 139.69 times.

Awareness of the Signal increased from 26% to 41% within Canada, which means two in five Canadians (and 48% of women) now have a covert way to call for help. The call-to-action embedded within the Signal helped mobilize 42,000 people to sign up and become responders in our efforts to fortify community-based prevention and build an empowered cohort of support in Canada, exceeding our target by 4.2 times.

Since the launch of the campaign in April 2020, to date of December of 2022, there have been 5,607,807,400+ earned impressions, $48,173,533 in earned media and 3,584,000 engagements on social. Most importantly, since initiation, the Signal for Help has been credited with saving seven lives across the globe. 


Visiting Hours

A man on the bed in his prison cell