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Boomtown leverages NFTs to fund human trafficking education and prevention

Boomtown, a South African advertising, and communication agency is running an NFT campaign on Rarible to fund human trafficking awareness and prevention.

By Anna B Kiwanuka

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In order to collect money for A21, a global organization aiming to put an end to human trafficking and slavery, Boomtown, a South African advertising and marketing communication agency, has taken advantage of the current NFTs “feeding frenzy.”

Under the guidance of the agency’s Creative Head Meagan Viljoen, a great team was put together and they created a campaign that has gone live on Ethereum’s Rarible as a collection called The Unownable Series.

Viljoen explains: “Much of what is available for purchase as an NFT on Rarible is grouped into collections – Bored Ape Yacht Club, Ragnarok, and The Creature World for example. And much of what is expressed in these collections are individual characters and people. So, in buying the NFT, it could be said that you are purchasing a person online. Of course, it is really only an image of a person, but Boomtown saw this as an opportunity to send a hard-hitting message. We believed the world’s current fascination with the blockchain, the technology that enables the NFTs phenomenon, could help us break human trafficking.”

“By showing the characters in the collection as blindfolded and giving them a name, they represent the harrowing truth of human trafficking, that many women, men, and children are unknowingly groomed online or in-person through false relationships or work opportunities, and sold for less than the price of an NFT,” Viljoen added 

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A limited NFT edition of distinctive characters is part of Boomtown’s campaign on Rarible. The collection’s brief description outlines how many people are trafficked each year, how it happens, and what A21 is doing to try to do to end human trafficking. 

According to A21’s South Africa Prevention & Awareness Coordinator, Cornel Viljoen, human trafficking is the exploitation of vulnerable people for their bodies and labour. Through force, fraud, and coercion, people everywhere are being bought and sold against their will right now in the 21st century.

He adds, “But slavery is more stoppable than ever before. And that’s why we’re here, rallying around the world and doing the work together. While it has its origins in South Africa, this campaign will be run globally by sharing social media posts.”

At the moment, the image is not for sale but is seeking donations.

The campaign includes a social media element to drive people to the Rarible site to view the images and donate. This incorporates a series of digital audio stories written to capture the harrowing moments that led to people being taken and trafficked to create the biggest impact possible.

“We hope that, by its presence on Rarible and through the social media campaign supporting it, we’ll not only be able to raise funds for A21 but also warn those who visit the collection – out of curiosity or to donate – how traffickers operate and therefore be on their guard,” Viljoen explained.

To support The Unownable Series, donors will need to purchase Ethereum on Luno, upload it to their Metmask accounts, and ‘make their bids’ on Rarible.

The Unownable Series will be up for ‘bid’ for an extended period following which artists worldwide will be approached to make their contribution by creating their own Unownable characters. The transaction of these pieces of art will not be a purchase but a donation to A21 to help end the collection of human lives.


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