2016 Winners

GOLD: Best Experiential Engagement

SILVER: Online Video

Raising the Roof - Coming Soon

Raising the Roof provides national leadership on long-term solutions to homelessness in Canada. With a staggering 235,000 Canadians experiencing homelessness every single year, they have a huge task on their hands. The challenge was how to communicate to the public the fact that temporary solutions (such as emergency shelters) are not the answer to the problem. Instead there must be a focus on long-term, permanent measures (such as changes to government policy) that put an end to homelessness for good.

The objectives were:

  • Introduce a new conversation about homelessness into the mainstream
  • Generate awareness and support for Raising the Roof

People's concern for the homeless is surprisingly selfish. When most people give their time and/or money to the homeless, they are freeing their own conscience from guilt and pity. Once they've made a contribution, they feel their job is done. This insight drove our campaign because we knew that in order to start a conversation about long-term homelessness solutions we had to make the short-term solutions a personal problem.

Leo Burnett's idea was born out NIMBYism - the notion of "Not In My Back Yard". The agency knew a billboard, newspaper ad, or run-of-the-mill PSA would not be enough to introduce a new conversation. In order for people to get real about long-term solutions, it decided to pit people's selfish tendencies against themselves with an unforgettable experience.

The key to the campaign was authenticity. No plot holes. Leo Burnett found a property for lease in an affluent area of Toronto and covered it with a plywood façade. It featured a sign with "Homeless Shelter – Coming Soon!" and a phone number, email, and URL to contact the shelter. It created an immediate uproar in the community. People picked up the phone and did the talking for them. The message was clear – nobody wanted a shelter in their "backyard".

Within hours, the agency revealed that Raising the Roof doesn't want a shelter either. It put up a sign - "You told us you don't want a shelter here. Neither do we. Support us in creating long-term solutions. Let's end homelessness."

The shop put all of it on film. It was simple but the message profound. It proved how passionate people could get about homelessness as soon as the problem became personal.

The "hoax" caused a media frenzy that reached every major Toronto news outlet and even other parts of the world. The organization had coverage on HuffingtonPost.ca, Buzzfeed.com, Toronto Star, CP24, Independent.co.uk, and many more. The result was an estimated 7,700,000 potential unique impressions, with zero dollars invested in media. By the end of the frenzy, the video earned 52,000 views and donations to Raising the Roof increased 506% vs. PY.


Client: Raising the Roof

Creative Agency: Leo Burnett, Toronto

Chief Creative Officer: Judy John

Group Creative Directors: Anthony Chelvanathan, Steve Persico

Copywriter: Steve Persico

Art Director: Anthony Chelvanathan

Executive Producer: Franca Piacente

Group Account Director: Natasha Dagenais

Account Supervisor: Kayla Osmond

Production Company: Skin & Bones

Director: Angie Bird

DOP: Anthony Deluca, Michael Chiang

Producer: Tony Phibbs, Jeff Schwartz

Location Manager: Christian Wood

Editing Company: Rooster Post-Production

Editor: Chris Parkins

Assistant Editor: Craig Jay

Producer: Yumi Suyama

Post Production Company: Fort York

Producer: Erice Bourgalt-Assaf

Music House: The Eggplant

Producer: Rocco Gagliese

Engineer: Nathan Handy

Executive Producer: Nicola Treadgold

Production Coordinator: Lindsay Fry

Have questions? Need help?
Contact Zoe Sherwood at 416-408-2300 x237 or zsherwood@brunico.com.