Friday, November 13, 2009

Foster a new perception

Next week, the Children's Aid Societies of Eastern Ontario will launch their latest "Winning Kids" campaign. But to get the ball rolling, they're allowing me to give Change Marketing readers a sneak peek:

We've been working with CAS since last June, and shot these over the summer. It was a very different kind of campaign for us: shoestring budget, volunteer actors, and generous partners working at or below cost.

The overall objective was to raise awareness about the need for foster parents, but CAS also wanted to change perceptions about foster families from the idea of "rescuing" kids to one of shared, mutually-rewarding experience. Our whole approach, and one that helped us secure the contract, was to make the campaign feel "real". But there was one problem: we can't show real foster kids. Their privacy is sacrosanct.

So instead, we adopted "user-generated" as a style, creating 30 second PSAs that look like home movies. We were honest about it, with clear branding of the campaign, but at the same time we were able to make our low production values work. In other words, we OWNED it.

I realize that there are both good and bad news stories out there about foster parenting, but our choice to accentuate the positive is true to the types of stories I've seen and heard among foster families I've known personally.

And the need for new fosters is definitely there. Currently, 1,100 foster families in Eastern Ontario open their doors to some of the 3,200 children and youth in care. As of last year, more than 29,000 children and youth in Ontario were victims of abuse or neglect — many of whom are in need of new homes.

We felt strongly about getting this message out, and so did everyone involved. It's an honour to work with CAS. Thanks to all our volunteers, and to everyone at Acart, GAPC, and Photolux who gave so generously of their time.

And thanks to the Ladman who — although not a foster child — provided inspiration for the gentle spirit of the campaign. You'll see more of him when we reveal the print ads next week:

Please share.


  1. I approve of this message.

  2. Tom! Those are amazing.