UNITED WAY OF THE LOWER

MAINLAND

 

 
DDB/Canada wins accolades for its United Way work.
You'd think this relatively simple print campaign for the United Way, visually demonstrating how the charity's famous hand icon is there to literally help people in potentially dangerous situations, would be easy to shoot. 'Fat chance,' says art director Daryl Gardiner.

Roadblocks proliferated. For instance, after photographer Frank Hoedl had obtained permits and posted signs to keep the street clear, on the day of the shoot, a car parked right where Hoedl wanted to shoot. 'We had the car towed,' says Gardiner. 'Mid-shoot, the owner showed up and threw a wobbly, eating up valuable time while Frank argued with him. And for the shot of the boy in the park, we discovered our talent couldn?t throw a ball underhand. I don't know how many rolls of film Frank shot to capture a convincing throw.' Then the talent on the bridge had a fear of heights. 'It's actually the copywriter,' says Gardiner. 'We couldn't afford a model. Every time a large truck drove by the bridge shook not good when you're leaning over the railing and are afraid of falling. At one point some asshole yelled, 'Jump!' Nice.' But luckily for Gardiner and his copywriter/talent partner Kevin Rathgeber, this low-budget ($20,000 Canadian) campaign, designed to raise awareness and money for the United Way and expand and change the public's perception of its breadth of social services, did indeed turn out, nice.

'Our agency has always supported the United Way but we?d never done their advertising,' explains Gardiner. 'Two years ago we were asked to create a poster to run internally to drum up support for the United Way fundraising drive. We came up with the idea of using the 'hand' icon to visually demonstrate how the United Way helps people. It seemed like a natural fit and we wondered why no one had done it before.'

They then approached the local United Way, who already had an agency of record. For a while, nothing happened and they filed the campaign away and wrote it off. A year later the local United Way happened to be looking for an agency. 'We talked with them and decided our original idea still had merit, fleshed out more executions and presented the campaign. The client loved it.'

The United Way of the Lower Mainland, initially nervous about running the campaign, especially the bridge shot, went on to surpass the fundraising goal of $20 million for 2003, an increase of over $1 million. Plus it's won a number of awards on the Canadian awards circuit. 'United Way is such a universal brand that we didn't feel we had to explain what their organization stands for,' says Rathgeber. 'We knew that most people donate to charity based on emotional, not purely rational, reasons. So we wanted to connect with people on a gut level. And we felt simple, graphic demonstrations of what UW does would be the best answer.'



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