Life isn’t fair, but sentencing laws should be.

A coalition of organizations, including The Sentencing Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Drug Policy Alliance, wanted a branded public information campaign to inform the African American media and community about the disparity in the crack vs. powder cocaine sentencing laws. The coalition wanted to raise awareness about the issue as well as inspire action, particularly grassroots pressure on members of Congress to pass sentencing reform. Octane joined the fight armed with creativity, will, and strategy. Octane sifted through current research to inform program and brand development. Building off the in-house developed theme, It’s Not Fair. It’s Not Working, we designed a program able to navigate tricky waters: build support for the issue among African American communities, recognize the work of the Democratic Congress, and avoid alienating the Republican minority in Congress. The program also had to grab the attention of the presidential candidates and gain sympathy with the Supreme Court.

Octane’s program was supported by messaging and print ads. We coordinated ad placements in more than 75 African American civil rights, philanthropic, religious, and professional and fraternity/sorority publications.  An important program element was partnering with the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). We launched It’s Not Fair. It’s Not Working at the NABJ annual conference where we provided media guides and press kits and pitched stories to more than 300 media across the country. This intensive media relations effort paid off with exposure to more than 4,000 Black journalists at the NABJ conference and subsequent reporting by national media and local and African American media outlets throughout the country.

Target audience: Targeted journalists

Client: The Sentencing Project