Urban Ministries of Durham and McKinney make homelessness hard to ignore - McKinney

Urban Ministries of Durham and McKinney make homelessness hard to ignore

May 28, 2009

Ignoring the homeless just got a lot harder, thanks to a new marketing campaign by McKinney for Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD).

Breaking May 28, the multimedia campaign is the result of a unique partnership between UMD, McKinney, award-winning animator/director Johnnie Semerad, Academy Award-winning songwriter Marketa Irglova and Grammy-winning music and sound design company Endless Noise.

The campaign that features television, print, out of home and Web is designed to make people stop, think and reconsider what they can do to help Durham’s growing population of homeless and anyone in need of food, shelter and clothing.

“We asked McKinney for some white gloves and got some boxing mitts,” said Patrice Nelson, new executive director who joined UMD earlier this month. “It’s exciting that McKinney has brought such an amazing level of creativity and production to bring attention to Durham’s neediest, particularly at this time when the demand for emergency services is at a record high. The timing of this campaign comes at a critical time, as the summer months approach and donations typically decline. After several months of rising demand for services, UMD has already been tapping into reserves and needs to nearly double its revenues over last summer.”

“After watching these spots or seeing these print ads, it will be hard for anyone to ignore the issue of homelessness,” said McKinney Chief Creative Officer Jonathan Cude who teamed with Art Director Philip Marchington, Copywriter Jenny Nicholson and Producer Josh Eggleston on the campaign shot on location in Durham. “This work is intended to stop you in your tracks and makes you take a long, hard look at what homelessness means to the Durham community. It’s gritty and unapologetic in the sense that it equates the amount of attention some pay to the homeless to the amount of attention they might pay a piece of trash in the street. It’s clearly meant to get you to listen to your gut and the world around you. It’s meant to provoke you into believing that you can personally do something to help.”

Cude added that Eggleston’s ability to form a ‘dream team’ overnight was also an indicator that believing can create extraordinary results. In addition to Semerad and Irglova’s contributions, he cited music production company Endless Noise and Jeff Elmassian, who recorded Irglova’s single, “The Hill,” from the hit movie, “Once.” “Any major marketer would be thrilled to have this brilliant team work on behalf of their brand.”

Television Two television spots depict a normal day for busy people in and around Durham. Using stop frame animation, the camera moves forward highlighting different people walking down the street, window shopping or sitting at a sidewalk café with friends. As the camera proceeds to move closer to the people, it moves beyond them and finally rests on something very tiny and, at first, not recognizable. Upon closer look, the viewer registers that it’s a tiny figurine of a homeless person no larger in scale than the tiniest piece of litter. One of the spots features a veteran amputee standing next to a discarded cigarette butt with a sign that reads, “War vet, need help.”

A second spot features a mother with a baby and small child. Irglova’s haunting music lends a sad reality to the scene as the viewer readily makes the connection between these homeless people and the trash in the street. Both spots close with a bold frame that says, “IGNORING HOMELESSNESS WON’T MAKE IT GO AWAY” and the call-to-action tag line, “Urban Ministries of Durham. Food, clothing and a future.”

Print The four print ads work on the same theme to draw attention to the homeless as objects some may view as insignificant and dwarfed by everything around them. In each ad, a homeless figurine is seen on scale with a gritty-textured backdrop and objects discarded or decayed. Ads include a family standing in front of a bleak concrete wall with a rusty nail ominously pointed towards them, a man in a cardboard box sitting in the grubby doorway of a downtown business and a man on a park bench against a background of stark bricks surrounded by trash. Each displays a bold headline such as “YOU CAN TURN A BLIND EYE OR TURN A LIFE AROUND” and “MAKING IT INVISIBLE NEVER MAKES IT BETTER” and the line, “Urban Ministries of Durham. Food, clothing and a future.”

Out of Home On Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and 31, McKinney and UMD take to the streets again in out-of-home executions designed to get people connected with the issue of homelessness. On a busy Durham street, many people might pass by a homeless person without having any kind of interaction. However, at several points around Durham, people will notice on the sidewalk a small sign that reads, “Ignoring homelessness won’t make it go away.” At the base of the sign, the homeless figurines will be placed, and people will likely squat down to look carefully at the scene then speak with their companions about what they are seeing. “That might be someone’s first real connection with homelessness,” said Cude, who will lead a team of UMD volunteers at posts nearby to handout information about volunteering or donating to UMD.

Also on Sunday, several churches in Durham will host a special offering with envelopes that feature the campaign.

Web MindWorks of Durham redesigned UMD’s website using artistic elements from the campaign. The website utilizes the tone and feel from the print campaign to convey the urgent need to end homelessness in Durham. The updated site provides improved navigation and streamlined content so visitors can find out more information about UMD’s programs, services, needs and ways in which interested individuals and organizations can volunteer or make donations. The new site also includes a blogging feature that provides current information pertaining to UMD-related events, success stories, donations and volunteer opportunities.

For campaign materials or for more information, contact Deanna Kleiss of Urban Ministries at 919-682-0538 or [email protected] or visit the website at www.umdurham.org.