Heat’s Hookup Stations spark Lolla dialogue

A 'hookup station" at Lollapalooza

A ‘hookup station” at Lollapalooza

“Let’s Get Consensual”
campaign utilizes
stations to
spread awareness
on consent

Last weekend at Lollapalooza, VIP ticket holders used Let’s Get Consensual’s Hookup Stations.

These Hookup Stations charged phones and served as an interactive tool on consent. Before users plugged in, they were asked if it was a consensual connection, were given basic information on what consent actually means, and were asked to pledge to always ask for consent.

Reel Chicago spoke with Elaine Cox, Philip Van Buren, and Austin O’Connor — members of the ad-agency Heat and founders of the Let’s Get Consensual campaign.

Austin O'Connor, Elaine Cox, and Phil Van Buren
Austin O’Connor, Elaine Cox, and Phil Van Buren

According to them, their goal was to create a social initiative that employs technology and experiential marketing techniques to prompt conversations about consent in those places where it is most often blurred.

Associate Creative Director Austin O’Connor explains that what makes the Let’s Get Consensual campaign unique is that it addresses the issue of consent at the heart of where it is most often violated. He says that this makes “the messages a little bit more contextual.”

So far, Let’s Get Consensual has set up Consent Drops (Air Drop installations) or Hookup Stations at Cannes Lions, Coachella, San Francisco Pride, and now, Lollapalooza.

Recording videos for Instagram Stories, coordinating meet-up spots with friends, using the festival app to find food and music… phone batteries died quickly at Lollapalooza 2019.

Like dying cellphone batteries, another pervasive issue at music festivals is harassment. According to Our Music My Body, “92% of female fans have experienced harassment at a musical festival and 60% of music fans who identify as transgender experienced physical, homophobic and/or transphobic violence at a music event.”

This made the topic of consent urgent and pressing at Lollapalooza.

While the above statistics are overwhelming in their scope and gravity, Let’s Get Consensual decided that coupling those dying batteries with information on consent would be an effective way to bring awareness to festivals.

Heat’s Executive Creative Director Elaine Cox states that their goal is, “To put it top of mind in situations where people are obviously meeting people to hook up.”

Early on, Let’s Get Consensual partnered with RAINN, No More, and A Call to Men. Heat’s Associate Creative Director Philip Van Buren states, “These organizations are already experts in the category.”

While these partnerships connect Hookup Spot users with excellent resources, Heat also utilizes their expertise to make sure that the Let’s Get Consensual campaign deals with the topic of consent in a fun, innovative, informative, and appropriate manner.

Cox says that it was “important to us to make sure we were handling this properly… not shaming men… not mak(ing) it uncomfortable for people living through assault.”

The Let’s Get Consensual campaign is not the first time that Heat has utilized its resources and skills to bring about awareness and positive social change in a fun and engaging manner.

Reel Chicago reported on their clever Privilege Check at the 3% Conference last November.

While Lollapalooza is over, Heat’s work on the Let’s Get Consensual campaign is just getting started. Cox, Van Buren, and O’Connor are still building relationships with new partners and events. They are currently teaming up with the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center to educate students and instructors on how to discuss consent.

Van Buren, O’Connor, and Cox all agree that society lacks the necessary education on consent, and each is committed to filling that void to the best of their ability.

Cox emphasizes that consent “shouldn’t be such a heavy, confusing, difficult thing to talk about or understand.”

“We really wanted to find ways to make it something that’s normal, to make it common sense, to make it be the first step in any interaction with any new person,” she continues, “all the way to someone you’ve had a relationship with or you’re married to.”

She concludes, “Consent is always important, and it shouldn’t be something that is awkward or avoided. It leads to, if discussed properly, really great wonderful things and prevents a lot of problems.

For all of the heat that ads get from television watchers and other disgruntled consumers, Heat has found an impressive balance between work and advocacy that deserves high praise. Ad-agencies that utilize their creative skills for social good have a unique ability to promote necessary conversations and effectively spread awareness.

For more information on Let’s Get Consensual, click here.

For more information on Heat, click here.

Contact Joey Filer at Joey@reelchicago.com or follow him on Twitter @FilerJoey.