Case Study: 'She Deserves It' campaign from Intent generates publicity and donations for Waterloo's Haven House

Case Study by Ben Hagon RGD, Principal, INTENT

This project was selected as winner and 'Judge's Pick' in the Non-Profit, Client-Initiated category of RGD's 2014 So(cial) Good Design Awards.

The She Deserves It project is a fundraising campaign for the non-profit organization Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region (WCSWR). The campaign was a client-initiated project as part of a larger capital campaign to build a new shelter (Haven House) for women and their children escaping domestic abuse in Cambridge, ON.

Intent was selected due to our specialized experience developing communications campaigns for non-profit organizations. WCSWR were also a fan of our previous work, including fundraising for St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation and the Kitchener Public Library rebrand.

The project began in April 2014 and launched in September 2014, on schedule. Our goals were to generate publicity for the capital campaign as well as donations for the rebuild of Haven House.



We began with a thorough discovery, which included multiple client meetings and visits to the site of the organization's new facility and their main existing shelter in Kitchener. For the research phase, we looked at the effectiveness and aesthetic trends in comparable national and international campaigns to assist us in building local awareness with a campaign that would stand out from others in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. We wanted to create a clear message that would convey the credibility of the initiative and the seriousness of the issue.   


Once all of our insights and information were gathered, we began our idea development phase, with the goal of having five 'big ideas' to present to the client. At this stage, we present these ideas to our clients in pencil sketch format on art board. This old-fashioned approach allows the ideas to shine, and encourages greater client collaboration.

'She Deserves It' was selected by the client as the winning concept. The idea evokes an emotional response, prompting the viewer to consider the meaning behind the question: What does she deserve? Does she deserve safe shelter or domestic abuse? On another level, the viewer is also asked to decide if the 'she' being represented in the campaign deserves their donation. The client loved the provocative approach and the subversive nature of the question. Six months after the launch, the concept continues to generate discussion and publicity for Women’s Crisis Services.



Our core client team was the CEO and the Fund Development Manager for WCSWR, but other members from the Women’s Crisis team also participated in the many meetings we had. They were involved every step of the way, but also gave us the perfect amount of leeway to do great creative. They provided important insights based on their experiences with this very challenging, and still often taboo, subject matter, and their input added greatly to the project. 



The biggest challenge for this project was capturing the difficult subject matter of the campaign in a way that would catch the audience's attention. We were fortunate enough to work with Toronto photographer Lorella Zanetti. We were familiar with Lorella's work photographing people and product and admired her amazing sense of light; we knew she would be perfect for the project. Her amazing talent enabled us to bring a very challenging concept to life across multiple locations with many different models. Due to the non-profit nature of the project, all of the models appearing in the campaign are friends or family members, including our Creative Director’s daughter. Some of the shoots, such as wrapping one woman's throat with chains, were quite difficult to execute. 


We also employed a custom type treatment for all statistics and the headline. We took the font Knockout, which is already a strong and striking condensed typeface, spliced it through the middle and disrupted the appearance by shifting it slightly. This treatment reinforces the unsettling, subtly disturbing tone of the concept, especially when paired with the dramatic images. In our opinion the type treatment was in perfect harmony with the intention of the campaign. 





The objective for this project was to generate publicity for the client’s capital campaign. Since launch, our campaign has been featured in the Waterloo Region Record (even inspiring a heated editorial column), on the local CTV station, and featured on the CBC KW Facebook page.


“We are proud to work in close and notable collaboration with Intent in order to effectively raise awareness about our capital campaign. Our $8.4 million project required creativity and impact; and they definitely delivered. It continues to be a privilege to work with these awesome professionals.”
Mary Zilney, CEO, Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region



Designer Takeaways

  1. At the beginning of the process, spend significant time with your client. Listen, listen and listen some more to what they are telling you, take in every insight the client has to offer and make sure you are fully informed. Do everything you can to understand where they are coming from and what they want to achieve and use this information as a jumping off point to push forward your creative ideas.  
  2. Once you have a strong understanding of the project's context, use this knowledge to create a strong concept. Push for the optimum representation of your creative idea. Use what you have learned from your client and any other resources available to accomplish your vision.
  3. When you're part of the client's team, you'll have better insight into the goals of the project. Show your support in any way you can, by attending events and promoting the cause. 

Client Takeaways

  1. Be prepared to collaborate with the designers on your project. You are the expert on the content, the designer is there to help you communicate it and get results. The magic happens when you and your creative team bring the best skills and knowledge from both sides to create excellent work.
  2. Be open minded to ideas that are challenging because those are the ones that end up having the most exciting results. Don’t hide from something because it seems too risky.
  3. Be very clear about your project objectives. Fuzzy objectives are the first step towards a generic end result. Clarity about what you want in the early stages is what leads to excellent work. 



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