Yesterday April 27 Danny, homeless living in Austin Texas, started a two day campaign for Mobile Loaves and Fishes, an Austin-based homeless mission.
To kick off the campaign called I AM HERE, Danny himself will be on a 50-foot billboard on I-35 at select times throughout a 48-hour period. Texting “Danny” to 20222 makes a $10 donation to help get Danny into a home through Mobile Loaves and Fishes’ Habitat on Wheels program. Just 1,200 text messages will get Danny and Maggie off the streets, into their own mobile home, and on the way to a new life.
The “I Am Here” Project is a collaboration between Mobile Loaves and Fishes, integrated marketing firm T3, and Reagan Outdoor.
The project began when Ben Gaddis, T3’s director of mobile and emerging technology, met MLF founder Alan Graham and started to discuss the powerful impact that mobile giving could have on Alan’s organization.
T3 set MLF up for text donations through the Mobile Giving Foundation, and began developing a campaign that would not only advertise mobile giving, but also raise awareness of the larger issue of homelessness.
Kate Donaho, group creative director at T3: “The notion that we don’t see homeless people or that we constantly turn away from them: how could we reverse that? How could start a cycle of acknowledgement that would humanize a homeless person and compel someone to help? It was as simple as allowing a homeless person to say, ‘You see me. I am here.’”
T3 and MLF had to find an outdoor partner who was equally bold: Reagan Outdoor.
“Our first reaction was ‘You’re kidding me,’” said Bill Reagan, president. “But given the unique nature of this project, we elected to take part because we’re a local company, and we care deeply about the strength and well-being of Austin. We were able to offer something no one else could.”
In response to any concerns that putting a homeless person on a billboard is exploitative, Graham says, “Letting him sleep on the street is okay, but raising him up to be seen on a billboard is not? I’m the P.T. Barnum of the homeless. I feel like I’m their manager. Like any great manager, how do I position them to get the resources they need to affect change in their life? I’d do anything to help bring attention to this cause.”
The campaign not only includes the billboard, but also print components, a public service announcement, a website, video, and of course, mobile elements.
The campaign was covered by CNN today:
Danny and Maggie; photo: Patrick Bresnan