DANFORTH, Toronto— Whether it’s Justin Beiber’s arrest, the Kardashians’ newest drama or what Beyonce and Jay-Z’s baby is up to, consumers know every detail of celebrities’ lives. An ad campaign released earlier this year for WoodGreen Community Services, however, has directed the attention elsewhere, reminding consumers what is really important.
Ads for WoodGreen at bus and subway stops put real single moms living in poverty in place of celebrities with headlines on fake tabloids like “Tanya Tries to Avoid Eviction” and “Marlene Can’t Find Affordable Housing.”
A commercial has also been aired to recount real issues of single mothers. At the end, the commercial asks, “What if we cared about those living in poverty as much as we care about celebrities?”
WoodGreen Community Services is based in Danforth, Toronto and has been working for over 75 years to help those struggling in poverty. Programs focus on helping seniors become independent, getting homeless people off the street, and aiding internationally trained professionals find jobs.
WoodGreen helps 37,000 people per year.
The ad brought awareness to their Homeward Bound program, which helps single mothers become economically independent. After applying, women are accepted into a 4-year program that helps them gain training and a post-secondary education, ultimately resulting in a stable job to support their families. In addition to this, they receive affordable housing and childcare, along with mental health and recreational services for their children.
Denise Rossetto, the creative director for DDB Toronto, was inspired to initiate this ad campaign after reading stories of single mothers in the program. As a mother of twin boys, she recognizes the challenges of raising children even with support, and asked herself, “How do these women do it?”
WoodGreen has always had difficulties raising money and awareness, so when Rossetto came to them with the idea, they loved it.
The goal of the ad was not to instill guilt, but to display how the balance is off in our society. Rosetto recognized that we care more about what’s going on in Hollywood than we do about the people living a street over from us.
The ad raised so much awareness that it was brought up in a meeting with housing advocates.
CEO of WoodGreen, Brian Smith, hopes that the buzz will sustain itself until November when a key housing conference is to take place.
Homeward Bound has helped 176 women and 216 children since 2004. Thanks to the recent ad, awareness has been raised about both the Homeward Bound program and the other programs offered at WoodGreen Community Services. The Toronto community has been forced to do a double take, both at these ads, and at what they should be keeping up on.
– Kim Tierney