Full Marks to DDB for Effort… Or, Not?

Social campaigns have become so tied to agency “cred” that creative groups are clamoring to get a piece of the action. Often tied to stunts, these efforts seem geared to woo the affections of the press, as well as those sad folks forced to judge awards shows. Being the prick I am, I like to look back a few months later, and ask if such hoopla in fact turned out to be worth the fanfare. In December 2010, DDB Canada installed a series of sculptures around Vancouver, to underscore the positive impact of First United Church’s work. A few observant pedestrians noticed the emptiness of the figures, and took the time to examine the slips of paper next to them. These directed them to the Facebook profiles of Jody, Steve, and Gordon, three homeless people who had found their way off the streets, as a result of First United’s involvement. (Incidentally, the status updates on their Facebook walls are so impeccably written that you'd think all three to be agency copywriters.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-xhKh27jBk The idea has legs, but suffers from what can be classified as an awfully dubious implementation. From my research the sculptures were only visible on one day, for a scant 90 minutes. The noted link leads users to a site that makes no clear mention of the campaign (admittedly, some time has passed). The associated Facebook pages—that seemed so central to the campaign—weren’t even active for any length of time. Color me suspicious, but DDB seems to have taken just long enough to collect some photos, post a compelling video, blog about the campaign, and get the word out to press. They’re likely eligible for an award, but what about the client, or, the homeless? Nice idea; pity they didn’t see it through.