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Habitat For Humanity’s campaign goes experiential

A real-life block house pops up to spread charity's message

Habitat for Humanity Canada has launched a thought-provoking new campaign asking Canadians to help end poverty “one brick at a time” — a message it’s trying to get across using thousands of plastic building blocks.

The crux of the “Brick for Brick” campaign is a heartfelt video, developed by Cossette, showing a little girl gathering plastic toy bricks from across her community, then using them to construct a makeshift home for herself, her mother and brother.

The 90-second spot ends by driving people to the website where they can donate “virtual bricks” to help the national charity build real homes for people in need.

Habitat for Humanity Canada also included an experiential marketing element to the campaign (a first for the organization) by building a life-sized home made with more than 35,000 Mega Bloks. It was on display at the Interior Design Show (IDS) in Toronto Jan. 21 to 24 in a space donated byt eh show, which made Habitat for Humanity its feature charity at the event

“We needed a clever way to bring to life this PSA,” said Meghan Reddick, vice-president of marketing and communications at Habitat for Humanity. “It needed to be an attention grabber to get people to stop and think differently about Habitat.”

In a release, Cossette chief creative officer Peter Ignazi said building the real-life installation “was a great way to connect the different pieces of the campaign and build something truly show-stopping. The ask is simple: donate to help turn the girl’s dream into a real home.”

Reddick said the campaign reinforced the importance of stability for families, while also trying to build a conversation about the type of work the charity does.

“Habitat for Humanity has a strong brand in Canada and internationally, but many don’t really understand what we do and how we do it,” Reddick said. “We actually provide a hand up, not a hand out … a lot of people think we give away homes. The idea is to start those conversations.”

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The charitable organization has more than 63,000 volunteers and 56 affiliate organizations across Canada that work to build affordable housing and promote homeownership as a way to break the cycle of poverty.

Habitat for Humanity commissioned a report by The Boston Consulting Group, released last spring, which shows for every $1 spent by its program, there are $4 in benefits. That’s about $39 million for the 221 homes built by Habitat in Canada in 2014 alone, according to the report called Transforming Lives: the Social Return on Habitat’s Work in Canada. The report also showed the program helped family members get better jobs and live healthier lives, while also improving educational outcomes for their children.

Habitat’s new campaign includes traditional and social media. There’s a 30-second version of the spot available for broadcasters to air as a PSA, and the charity is doing a direct-mail campaign across its existing donor base.

“As the only national charity that helps provide homeownership to Canadian families, Habitat for Humanity Canada hopes the campaign will raise awareness of the issue of affordable homeownership and drive donations,” the organization said.

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