High Surf Advisory issued May 5 at 4:01AM EDT expiring May 5 at 8:00PM EDT in effect for: Pinellas
A bluntly-named awareness campaign urges young people who believe a friend is being drawn into the sex trade to drop an “F-bomb” – strong language to call attention to a serious problem.
But the “F” in this case, stands for something very positive.
The campaign with the twitter hashtag, #fbomb211 is the work of Dunn & Co. creative director Glen Hosking, who has no apologies for those who think the term is too vulgar.
"Child prostitution is vulgar. Domestic minor sex-trafficking is vulgar. A girl getting ready to turn tricks tonight? That's vulgar. We've turned it upside down to where the 'F' stands for 'friendship,’” said Hosking.
The campaign will try to reach teenagers through all the major social media channels – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – because pimps are using those very same channels to target girls.
In addition to guerilla marketing events and viral videos, the agency will hand out T-shirts, stickers and even coat-check tags urging young people to take action for a friend who may not understand the danger they're in and might resent the interference.
"That in itself is kind of risky because you have to ask, 'Do I turn my friend in even though I might lose that friendship?' But if you don't, you might lose that friend forever," Hosking said.
The website, droppingfbombs.com, dispels the stereotype of what a pimp might look like and ticks off warning signs that a girl is at risk that include dating an older guy, having lots of cash and keeping a second cellphone.
Tampa Police Sgt. Dusty Rhodes, who's worked far too many of these cases, believes the campaign is right on target.
"Ultimately the girls are unable to get out. They feel they're trapped in that lifestyle," said Rhodes.
Dunn & Co. donated their creative services for the campaign while the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay's Women in Action Group and the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking paid for the materials.
Crisis center specialists will be answering those 2-1-1 calls in Hillsborough County.