You casually reach in your back pocket or pocketbook to pay the lunch cheque or debit your $6 latte (because, really, who carries cash anymore?) and it’s not there. Is it in another pocket? Your bag? The floor?
Your wallet’s gone. This day sucks.
That was Toronto resident Matt Bois earlier this month, shortly after stepping off the subway at Keele Station after a cross-town trip. What ensued – part coincidence, part genuine kindness – became part of People For Good‘s ongoing media campaign.
“I’d already made the trek across the city when I got off the subway and realized I didn’t have my wallet anymore,” said Bois. “I always try to think positively, but I did resign myself to the fact my wallet was lost. It had cash, credit cards and a metro pass, so I thought ‘Even if I do miraculously get it back, I’m sure it will be missing some things.”
He had good reason to be pessimistic: According to a 2010 study by the British life insurance company CPP, only one in five lost wallets is ever returned to its rightful owner.
Bois, however, was one of the lucky 20%. His wallet was found by Jamie Mageau, a senior art director at Toronto agency Zulu Alpha Kilo who has spent the past two years urging people to be kinder to each other through the People for Good movement.
Developed jointly by Zulu and media services company Media Experts, People for Good urges people to be kind and considerate to each other through simple everyday acts like holding a door open or giving up a seat on the subway. Or returning a lost wallet.
Mageau was able to track Bois down through an ACTRA membership card in his wallet, finally getting his contact information from a casting agency that knew him. Bois is an actor whose resume includes roles in the CBC show Being Erica as well as CTV’s Flashpoint. He is also a sometime commercial actor who has appeared in commercials for clients, which include The Keg and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.
(Cynics could argue that it’s a convenient coincidence, but Bois is adamant the story happened just as he tells it. He even stumbles over the Zulu name convincingly when relaying the story.)
Zulu president and chief creative officer Zak Mroueh spoke with Mageau shortly after he found the wallet and the two men decided it would be opportunity for People for Good to shoot a video chronicling the wallet’s return.
Working with Poster Boy director of photography James Arthurs and editor Steve McGregor, Zulu quickly turned around a 75-second video housed on People for Good’s YouTube channel. Mroueh hopes to incorpoate similar videos in the future. “It’s sort of opened up another door that we never even considered,” said Mroueh.
When Bois’ wallet was returned, not only did it not have any key cards missing, it also featured an extra card: a green business card bearing the message “We return wallets,” accompanied by the #PeopleForGood hashtag and a link to its Facebook page.
“It was a really simple act, but it really embodies the whole People for Good movement,” said Mroueh. “We’ve all lost our wallet at some point, and it’s a terrible feeling. The fact that we found it and were able to capture [its return] on film was pretty cool.”
Bois describes himself as being “a bit off the grid” with no Facebook account or other social media networks, but remembers seeing a series of colourful billboards and transit ads promoting the People for Good initiative, which launched in 2011.
The Metrics of Kindness
According to a research study conducted by Ipsos in the wake of a massive advertising blitz promoting People for Good last year, 30% of respondents were familiar with the initiative, while another 22% were vaguely familiar. The study found that while awareness was evenly spread across the various age groups, people in the 35-54 demographic had more brand awareness.
The study also found that respondents who were aware of the advertising and the People for Good initiative were more likely to give up their seats on public transit to a pregnant or elderly person (22%) versus people who had never heard of the campaign (14%). The same group was also more likely to let people go ahead of them in line (4% versus 2%).
Asked if the experience with People for Good was more likely to make him “pay it forward,” Bois said: “That’s kind of the lifestyle I practice anyway. I don’t know if it stems from my upbringing, but I’m always the kind of person to hold the door or offer my seat.
“To have it happen to me just re-emphasized the whole positive aspect of this campaign,” he added. “There’s nothing attached to it beyond ‘Let’s do good for one another. We’re in this together, so let’s help each other out.’”
People for Good is planning on launching another awareness campaign this year.