Haitian Creative Director Creates Ads Inspired By Trump's Controversial Comments

Fabien Dodard is making a powerful statement about his native country.

When news stories broke that President Donald Trump had allegedly called Haiti a "shithole," outrage erupted across the political spectrum. (Trump has since claimed that he did not use that term, but instead used "tough language.")

But as many Democrats and Republicans condemned his comments, one Haitian advertising expert was cooking up a different plan. Fabien Dodard, the creative director at Parkour Studio, saw an opportunity to make a statement the country that he loves.


"When I saw how much press it was getting and how much it was getting blown out of proportion, I realized this is pretty bad brand wise," Dodard told A Plus over the phone. "It's a little sad we only get this bad [reputation] being publicized. We also have beautiful things, we also have beautiful people, the native people here are so welcoming and so warm, but the press only publicizes the bad people that are here."

When he first heard about the comments on social media, Dodard — who was born in Haiti but lived, studied and worked in the United States until two years ago — was initially outraged too. As he scrolled through his social media feeds, he saw friends of his posting beautiful pictures of Haiti and the Haitian people with cheeky captions about what a "shithole" it was, and he began to get inspiration for a greeting card ad campaign. That part of it, he said, came from his dad's tradition of sending him postcards when Fabien was a child.

Dodard decided he wanted to find a way to take this huge wave of press and flip it around into a positive thing. So, using his design skills, he created fake greeting cards that juxtaposed the beauty of Haiti with the word the U.S. president allegedly used to describe it.

"I showed the idea to some friends who are copywriters and they loved the idea," Dodard said. "They started throwing lines and headlines at me and we kind of worked together to finish the whole thing in a matter of one or two days."

Once they had the greeting cards complete, another stage of the idea began: raising money to turn those greeting cards into billboards in the United States. Parkour Studio launched a GoFundMe account asking for $40,000 to put the greeting cards on two billboards, transit advertisements and ad placements in the mall. He's already raised over $4,000 and says with $3,000, the initiative can get a billboard on the interstate outside Washington D.C. The GoFundMe was listed under a friend's name because you have to be in the U.S. to start a GoFundMe campaign. 

"This campaign is not a Haitian government initiative, nor expresses the views of Jean Rene Faustin," it says on the GoFundMe page. "It is the initiative of Parkour Studio, a shitty ad agency in Haiti."

From the start, Dodard said, the goal was to get as many eyes as possible on the greeting cards and images.

"If I can get a billboard up in Washington, this is something that is going to generate press," Dodard said. "And that is going to be the impact. Millions of people will see this thing online or on the actual billboard, but erecting the billboard up in Washington would be a symbolic step."

While the reaction in America has been positive, Dodard said the response in Haiti has been a bit more mixed. Some people have criticized him, noting that he could have a lot more impact with $40,000 than creating an advertisement campaign. 

"It's fine, because I don't expect everyone to understand the branding approach that I have and that I understand," Dodard said. "We have some naysayers for sure, but mostly positive feedback."

Images and cover photo courtesy of Parkour Studio


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