2018 Winner

The Salvation Army

The Working Struggle

Grey Canada

SilverEvolution Strategy: Keeping it Fresh

December is The Salvation Army’s (TSA) most critical donation period, with the month normally accounting for 40-50% of TSA’s annual revenue. Losing ground during December would result not only in children facing harsh winter conditions with improper clothing, but families forced to go without food and seniors having to forego medication to afford rents six to nine months later as the organization's funds ran short.

Competition for the charity dollar has never been more brutal. The number of Canadians donating to any charity is declining, driving up the average donation/donor, making the retention of donor numbers increasingly critical. With over 170,000 charitable organizations for donors to choose from, standing out goes beyond being noticed. Connecting on a personal level with Canadians has been shown to be the biggest driver to maintain/increase donations. But the public perceives TSA to be mainly focused on providing shelter and addiction services to the homeless. With that association comes preconceived judgments of TSA beneficiaries being irresponsible and/or lazy, making Canadians increasingly detached and dismissive of the cause.

Through interviews with TSA caseworkers, it was discovered that poverty is hiding in plain sight in Canada. 1 in 10 Canadian families live in poverty and often aren’t recognized as those in need of urgent help. Most of the people that rely on TSA are everyday families with a roof over their head; as many as half of them are employed. In fact, 1 in 3 single, working-age adults in Canada lives in poverty. But further inquiries in donors’ attitude revealed that Canadians see “getting a job” as the #1 solution to poverty. The team realized that half of the poverty in this country goes unnoticed because it is found among people who, because they have a job, don’t fit the image Canadians expect: we fail to see poverty in Canada because it is employed.

Employment makes poverty invisible. The campaign would reveal poverty among the people doing precisely what everyone expects should prevent it: working. Previous campaigns focused on showing that poverty isn’t always about being homeless: that it hides behind the closed doors of many homes. “The Working Struggle” attacked Canadian’s preconceptions that people living in poverty are lazy and unemployed, showing the reality of hard-workers who still need help.

The campaign challenged the perception that individuals who live in poverty are in this situation due to a lack of character, of discipline, or of willpower. It showed individuals who are hard-at-work while still being in need of urgent help. In film (television and online), a busy, respectable-looking waitress seizes a discreet opportunity, while on the job, to eat what free food she can grab out of a client’s leftovers. In radio, pleas for help were hidden in ads that at first appeared to be promotions for local businesses. The spots showcased hard-working business owners or professionals who are displaying everything but laziness: a female hairdresser offering discounts in order to be able to afford rent and medical bills for a parent; an elderly pizza-parlour owner advertising its “50 years of authentic pizza tradition” because he can’t afford not working to keep up with rising rent; a used car-dealer offering to “take anything” in order to feed his kids at home.

In each case, poverty was showcased where Canadians would least expect it, focusing on hard-working individuals doing exactly what Canadians expect would get anyone out of poverty, yet still being desperately in need of help.

Shaking perceptions of “who lives in poverty” successfully made the campaign stand out in a very competitive market, and connected on a personal level with Canadian donors. As a result, TSA retained their donors in a shrinking market. The number of online donors remained flat year-over-year, achieving a 1.2% growth in website revenue, while Kettle donations surpassed TSA’s objective by 15.5%, reaching $23.1M.

Additionally, the campaign was instrumental in engaging donors, carving out in the process a new and ownable position for TSA moving forward. Showing people in need who are as hardworking as anyone else proved to be a powerful platform for The Salvation Army, contributing to casting off its dated image and unengaging perceptions of its mission.

Brand: The Salvation Army
Client: John McAlister, National Director of Marketing & Communications

Agency: GREY Canada
President, Chief Creative Officer: Helen Pak
VP Planning & Innovation: Ian Westworth
Strategic Planner: Jean–Claude M. Kikongi
Planning Associate: Rafif Hajsaleh
Executive Creative Director: James Ansley
Executive Creative Director: Joel Arbez
Copywriter: Sara Radovanovich
Art Director: Perle Arteta
VP Client Services: Nicole Lupke
Group Account Director: Siobhan Doyle
Integrated Producer: Vanessa Birze
Editor/Colourist/Artist: Biko Franklin

Production House: Someplace Nice
Director: Andy Ferreira
Executive Producer: Estelle Weir
Producer: Adam McCloy

Audio House: VaporRMW (TV & Radio)
Director/Producer: Dustin Anstey
Executive Producer: Kat Stewart

Media Partner:MediaCom

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