Since my childhood, I’ve always been easily fascinated by … well, almost anything really. The rhythmic, tapping sound of light rain as it patter on the window. A beautiful smile on the face of a charming kid. The humming sound a busy city makes every day as each night descends into our life.
Even unique experiences like the clatter of my keyboard as I rush to share my ideas with the world, or the funny vibrations my phone makes in the morning in its attempt to wake me up. Poor thing, haha.
You can imagine my excitement then when, a few weeks earlier, I came across the name Corey Fleischer for the first time in my life. This man founded a campaign that targets, locates, and eliminates hate speech graffiti everywhere in the world, and for free.
Over a decade ago, the Montrealer Corey Fleischer, tall, thick with muscle, and has a bald head, drove past a bus graffitied with a hateful symbol on his way to work. An hour and a half later, he felt compelled to return and erase the symbol.
“I took my truck and barricaded him in,” he later recounted the incident with the bus driver. “I wasn’t happy about it. I said ‘Now you’re going nowhere.’”
He then explained to the driver that what he was about to do was free of charge, and a few minutes later, the graffiti is gone.
Fleischer since then made it his life mission to help clean up similar racist and hateful graffiti anywhere in the world. He hasn’t stopped. And that is how “Erasing Hate” came to be.
This campaign, titled #ErasingHate, went from Montreal to global in a few years after Fleischer kickstarted it in 2014.
Before 2014, removing graffiti was more of a secret hobby for him. Fleisher has been working in the dark and refusing to share this adventure with the world in fear of the public’s judgment. After this particular episode, however, everything changed.
Dedicated, fierce, with determined eyes, Fleischer will set out to erase hate from the face of the earth in any way he could. “I’m getting up in the morning and I’m eating hate crimes for breakfast. I’m eating them for lunch. I eat hate crimes for dinner,” he told The Toronto Star, a Canadian broadsheet daily newspaper.
He loves it. He revels in it!
“It was an epiphany,” he said in 2018 to the Canadian human rights commission (CHRC). Watching the “colors bleed off that concrete slab” gave him a surge of satisfaction, unlike anything he had ever felt before. He wanted to feel that way again. And again.
What is also interesting about Fleischer’s venture to erase hate is that it inspired others, throughout Canada and beyond, to do the same. “I had no idea that by posting pictures and videos of me removing hate, I would inspire others…” he said.
On his Instagram page of over 139k followers, Fleischer shares plenty of videos and pictures sent to him by these people, inspired by his actions, and erasing hate in their communities too.
“A lot of people thinks that social change requires millions of dollars and complex algorithms,” he further told CHRC. “All this required was a power washer and some water.”
What marketers can walk away with from Fleischer’s adventure?
“There is a lot of beauty in ordinary things,” said Pam Beesly in the finale of NBC’s The Office. In the same light, even the most mundane of campaigns can be exciting to execute and, even more, reach unanticipated heights of success.
It is no wonder that most affiliate marketing fails, with the entrepreneur Vera Kuhr once reporting more than 95% of newbies failing to record any success. At the outset, it seems easy — “market” other people’s products and get paid for your troubles. But it hardly turns out that way because we often dismiss the backbone of every great marketing campaign: the personal value the marketer ascribe to the product.
We needed to first truly believe in a product — and we hardly do in affiliate marketing. It might not be true of other types of marketing, but the same pattern applies to all.
Fleischer’s campaign wasn’t successful because he loves removing just any graffiti (that will be passion and not a personal value). It didn’t go global, even had a burger named in his honor, because he spent a lot of money on Facebook ads. What made #ErasingHate into a successful global campaign was his stand against graffiti containing hate symbols and words.
“All this required was a power washer and some water.”
In other words: All this required was an action that sprang from an unshaken belief to make a change.
Isn’t this what Seth Godin’s been preaching all this while in his popular book This is Marketing? That marketing is about making a change?
A personal value should be more than having a passion for a product or idea, and certainly more than getting fascinated by mere things like the funny vibrations of your phone if you’re someone like me. It is genuinely embracing the solution a product (or the idea a campaign) represents.
Having a personal value in marketing a campaign means not minding getting stuck with that product for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — and still getting excited every single time you think of it.
Your value can (and will) echo through your message in a way your words never could. Tune this out, and you will have close to nothing. You only need to watch the TED talk Fleischer gave in Laval to realize that.
Take a page from Fleischer’s book. Tie a product to your value. Or even better, develop a product from your value. Good luck making that change!