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Swiping out sex trafficking

An Irish ad agency is using native advertising to raise awareness of human trafficking, starting with the undeniable social platform of the moment; Tinder.


The campaign, launched by Eighty Twenty in partnership with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, is simple enough; a number of profiles were created for the dating app, featuring images of attractive young women. However, if a Tinder user decides to swipe left, they will see a photo of the same woman. The photos become more troubling in nature, as they increasingly illustrate the impact of trafficking and prostitution. The final two images consist of a message, and a call to action: “A swipe to the left, and a swipe to the right… Sex trafficking victims have no options. You have the option to help end it now. Visit

Sex trafficking is thought to be a €200 million business in Ireland, rivalling the drug and gun trades in size. “This is the first use of Tinder in Ireland for a campaign of this nature and one of the first globally,” says Eight Twenty’s Cathal Gillen. “Tinder has become an extremely popular app in Ireland, and it provides us with a unique, innovative and stand out way of communicating to men the issues faced by women involved in sex trafficking.”

The campaign’s shocking subject matter and almost purely visual storytelling style has already had a sobering, educational effect on a number of male users, with most comments referring to the surprise felt at what is happening every day, on such a large scale. “Jarring? Definitely,” says Ellie Krupnick at Mic, “especially since so many Tinder users swipe rather mindlessly, and with a very different kind of sex on their minds. But the stark contrast with the typical Tinder experience is exactly the point… Embedding the powerful messages in an app accomplishes a unique kind of reach.”

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