As the cold Canadian winter sets in, Project Winter Survival has launched its first-ever PSA to raise awareness about homelessness.
The 30-second spot, titled “Road Rage” and created by Toronto agency Blammo Worldwide, shows two men arguing and getting physical with each other near their parked cars. The video, which is made to look like it was filmed by a passerby on a cellphone, has a surprising twist that draws attention to homelessness.
Project Winter Survival was founded in 2000 by husband-and-wife team Jody Steinhauer, founder and president of Toronto-based The Bargains Group, and Lorne Simon, chief of PR at Michael Communications PR Group. The grassroots organization creates survival kits with donated items such as sleeping bags, toques and personal care products. The kits are handed out to the homeless in the Greater Toronto Area through agencies such as The Salvation Army, Red Cross and the Scott Mission. This year, 200 volunteers put together 3,000 kits, which were handed out on Jan. 19.
“The message [of the PSA] is that every single day we’re walking by homeless people who are potentially freezing to death, and we’re not even noticing it… or we do see them, but we still walk by,” said Steinhauer. “I think there’s a huge subliminal message that we should look around a little bit more and [ask] ‘what are we missing?’”
Andrew Simon, chief creative officer at Blammo Worldwide, said the agency “wanted to do something that would be very provocative and attention-getting, but also remind people that to a lot of Canadians, the homeless are invisible.”
The campaign was borne out of a meeting Simon had with Lorne Simon. The two had worked together on Crimestoppers campaigns while Andrew was at DDB Toronto.
“We had a lot of success together and he told me about this initiative… which sounded fantastic,” said Andrew Simon, who also worked with Untitled Films on the PSA. “It was just a question of, ‘It’s late in the game, can we get anything together to launch in January?’ That was our biggest challenge, but right from the bat it was wonderful.”
The campaign also includes radio spots. Project Winter Survival is working on getting donated airtime.