This Hand Sanitiser Is Helping Stop the Spread of Xenophobia

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Editors' Choice: The Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice and Toronto agency The Hive aim to curb coronavirus related racism with smart stunt
This Hand Sanitiser Is Helping Stop the Spread of Xenophobia

A new public awareness campaign from the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice is working to stamp out coronavirus-related xenophobia.

The campaign features bottles of hand sanitiser bearing the message 'Stop the Spread'. But while people might think the bottles are aimed at curbing coronavirus, they bear messaging aimed at getting them to consider their actions towards the Asian community.

The wording on the label mimics that found on standard bottles of hand sanitiser, except it has been replaced with pointed messages about xenophobia. Under uses, for example, is the phrase 'Protects against toxic behaviour', while other messages on the label include 'Works best with common sense' and 'Keep (intolerance) away from children'. The bottles drive people to an informational website, StopTheSpread.ca.


The global rise of the coronavirus and subsequent media attention has led to an alarming rise in a different kind of sickness—racism directed towards the Chinese Canadian community. The past weeks have seen a marked uptick in stories about people avoiding Chinese restaurants and other Asian-owned businesses, and verbally attacking Asian people online or in public.

It mirrors the upswing in racism that accompanied the 2003 SARS epidemic, which the Conference Board of Canada estimated had a $1.5 billion impact on the Canadian economy — $1 billion in Toronto alone — as travellers avoided the city.


“Globally, xenophobia and racism towards Chinese and other Asian communities have been on a rapid rise since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. This upswing of racism closely mirrors the racism experienced by Chinese in Canada during the 2003 SARS outbreak, and must be confronted,” says Amy Go, interim national president of the Chinese Canadian national council for social justice.


The bottles of hand sanitiser were distributed on Tuesday, March 3rd in high-traffic areas in Toronto, including Chinatown, Yonge-Dundas Square, and Nathan Phillips Square. The work was developed pro bono by Toronto creative agency The Hive.

“The ‘Stop the Spread’ idea was born out of a simple thought – that much sought-after hand sanitiser could be used as a tool to send an important message, and ultimately propel change,” says Meghan Kraemer, creative director, The Hive. “With our team dressed in hazmat suits, we hit the streets of Toronto. The suits were attention-grabbing, and the response was over-resoundingly positive. Our hope is that this initiative will help sanitise the stigma - and foster kindness, acceptance and a desire for Canadians to be guided by facts, not fear.”

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Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice - 'Stop the Spread of Racism'
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Client: Chinese Canadian Council of Canada for Social Justice

Interim National President: Amy Go

Co-Founder: Dr. Joseph Wong

Agency: The Hive, Toronto

Chief Creative Officer: Simon Creet

Creative Director: Meghan Kraemer

Associate Creative Director: Mitch Duesling

Art Director: Teresa M. Depaz

Writer: Nicholas Schembri

Director of Production: Yilma Campbell

Director: Cameron Tomsett

Project Management: Cecilia Hui, Brandon Vignali

Digital Content Strategist: Lauren Hildebrand

Photography: Mark Ralph

Production Company: School Editing

Editor: Mark Morton

Genres: Documentary, People

Categories: Corporate, Social and PSAs, Non-Profit

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