Campaign to combat hate against Asian-Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic: WashTheHate.com

Role at IW Group: Content Direction | Art Direction | Video Direction | Editing | GFX


During the start of 2020, when COVID-19 began to spread globally, the US witnessed an alarming surge in hate incidents against people of Asian descent as they were being wrongfully blamed for the spread of the virus.

These acts of hate also began to escalate; from verbal harassment and vandalism to violent assaults. Asian Americans found themselves not only concerned about their health due to the pandemic but also worried about the personal safety of themselves and their loved ones.

At IW Group, an Asian American-owned marketing agency, we recognized the need to create public awareness of COVID-related anti-Asian racism and elevate the issue into a national conversation.

With the social media campaign #WashTheHate, IW Group invited influencers, leaders, and everyday individuals to post a short, hand-washing-length video (~20 seconds) of them cleaning their hands and sharing a story of how the virus has affected their lives.

Launch CTA ‘Wash The Hate’


We launched WashTheHate on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok on March 18, 2020, following a highly-publicized White House press conference in which President Trump called COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” despite the surge in anti-Asian hate crimes.

With the help of our partners, #WashTheHate reached the masses on social media in just over three months:

  • 117M+ social media impressions
  • 15.5K+ social media mentions
  • 11.5K+ website visits

Since the launch, there have been hundreds of user-generated #WashTheHate videos uploaded to social media. Participants have ranged from Asian Americans representing every walk of life (students, professionals, celebrities) to non-Asian allies across the country; including Walmart’s Senior Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Ben Hasan.

As the first national campaign to address COVID-related hate in the US, #WashTheHate garnered enormous media interest and went viral on social media.

Sustaining CTA ‘Join Us’


We also produced the first national public service announcement addressing anti-Asian racism, which aired on national television throughout the month of May. Due to social distancing restrictions, the PSA was entirely self-shot by the featured talent. Our public service announcement received more than $500K in media value through our partnerships with various media companies including Comcast and ViacomCBS.

National PSA ‘Come Together’


Although we began the hashtag #WashTheHate as a social media challenge with a clear call-to-action to wash your hands, the usage of the hashtag changed over time and was adopted to become a catch-all phrase for calling out hate and encompassing many various facets of the online COVID-19 discussion.



3AF 2020 PR Campaign of the Year

ANA Multicultural Excellence Awards – Grand Prize – Asian Category

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