April 8, 2015; Slate

Advertising guru David Ogilvy once said, “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. Aim for the company of immortals.” For advertisements to be effective, especially outdoor ads, he advised that they had to teach, stimulate conversation, and persuade. With so many ads competing for attention, it’s incredibly difficult for even the most well known brands to stand out. But a new campaign created by Publicis London successfully adheres to Ogilvy’s directive and definitely stands out.


#AdoftheDay: @PublicisLondon is helping @DepaulUK tell the other side of the homeless story. http://t.co/aOPMj5aKLe pic.twitter.com/s6E5iOxN4r

— AdForum (@adforum) April 10, 2015


Depaul UK, a nonprofit organization based in London, has found a unique way to take its anti-homelessness campaign to the streets, or to be more precise, to street corners. Initially placed around London, with plans to expand to other cities around the United Kingdom, this nonprofit has incorporated building architecture into its campaign by placing one part of its message on one side of a building and a second part on the adjacent side of the building. While the left side can stand alone, it doesn’t make sense until the left and right sides are viewed together—especially since there is no call to action on the left side.

Created by Publicis London, the “Street Corners” campaign was designed to generate interest in passerby. Viewed as a single poster, the left side presents a summary of preconceptions about homeless youth. The objective for the left side of the ad is to fight the stereotype that all homeless youth are substance abusers and that only trained social workers can help them.

Depaul UK’s mission is to offer homeless and disadvantaged people the opportunity to fulfill their potential and move toward an independent and positive future. As a result, Depaul UK needs more volunteers, and that was the impetus for this powerful ad campaign.

The clever design forces viewers to read both sides to understand the entire message. The campaign creators knew that the unique aspects of integrating architecture into the messaging would guarantee shares and comments via social media. With more conversations focusing on homelessness, Depaul UK will find more volunteers to provide emergency housing and serve as mentors.

“We tried (where possible) to put the left side where the heaviest foot traffic was,” Publicis art director Dan Kennard and copywriter Ben Smith explained, “We chose to put it on the streets because it seemed the place that was most appropriate to the issue, and somewhere that the creative would have the biggest impact…While this is obviously outdoor advertising, a lot of the way it will be promoted and talked about will be online. In that context, you can show the left side and then both sides. That’s always been something we were very aware of when coming up with the idea.”

This ad campaign is a testament to David Ogilvy’s belief that “the more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.”—Debbie Laskey