Good Shepherd Ministries’ black Christmas

Charity raises awareness for homelessness with street-level stunt

tree3To raise awareness about the plight of the homeless, Good Shepherd Ministries set out to literally stop people in their tracks.

The Toronto-based charity, which provides food, shelter and other services for homeless people, set up black Christmas trees in high-traffic areas in the city on Dec. 6. Ornaments contain messages such as “Let’s hope it’s only a tree that dies on the street” and “No one plans on being homeless. Not even a tree.”

Adjacent sidewalk stenciling features the message “No one should spend Christmas here,” and asks people to donate at and spread the message on social media with the hashtag #HomelessChristmas.

“We have to find innovative ways of getting our message out, and sometimes it’s raw and shocking, but being homeless is also raw and shocking,” said Brother David Lynch, executive director of Good Shepherd Ministries.

The campaign was developed by Blackjet, which first started working with Good Shepherd on a rebrand in late 2012. For Thanksgiving last year, the ad agency developed the #HomelessTurkey campaign, in which 11,000 tweets resulted in 110 turkeys being donated to Good Shepherd’s Thanksgiving dinner.

“We set out to raise awareness [about Good Shepherd] among younger, more urban audiences,” said Rob Galletta, managing partner at Blackjet. “The Homeless Turkey campaign got tons of awareness for them and tons of social traction. For Christmastime this year, we wanted to launch an ambient campaign that raised awareness at the point of contact, so we literally hit the streets.”

Galletta added that people are increasingly desensitized to the problem of homelessness and are “almost pre-programmed to ignore homeless people.”

“So, with the jarring Christmas trees, ornaments and astounding facts about homelessness, we thought this would be a good opportunity to hit consumers and give them something to share,” he continued. “We wanted to make them stop and think, and if we could do that, then mission accomplished.”

The trees will be up until Dec. 13. Interestingly, people have started leaving care packages at the base of the trees, with items like toothbrushes and gloves. Blackjet is distributing the packages to people in need in the area.

Advertising Articles

BC Children’s Hospital waxes poetic

A Christmas classic for children nestled all snug in their hospital beds.

Teaching makes you a better marketer (Column)

Tim Dolan on the crucible of the classroom and the effects in the boardroom

Survey says Starbucks has best holiday cup

Consumers take sides on another front of Canada's coffee war

Watch This: Iogo’s talking dots

Ultima's yogurt brand believes if you've got an umlaut, flaunt it!

Heart & Stroke proclaims a big change

New campaign unveils first brand renovation in 60 years

Best Buy makes you feel like a kid again

The Union-built holiday campaign drops the product shots

123W builds Betterwith from the ground up

New ice cream brand plays off the power of packaging and personality

Sobeys remakes its classic holiday commercial

Long-running ad that made a province sing along gets a modern update