Crosby Makes Poverty Visible

“Poverty, the forgotten state” is the tagline for Crosby Marketing Communications’ broadcast, interactive and print series for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

The $200,000 public service effort for the Washington, D.C., nonprofit includes a variety of 10- to 60-second radio and television spots in English and Spanish. A print sampler of quarter-, half- and full-page ads use billboards, postcards and pictures of snow globes to focus awareness on poverty, America’s second-largest state.

Written by Mark Walston, creative director and copywriter at the Annapolis, Md., agency, the campaign reveals poverty as a place where people are invisible.

“We had to give poverty a personality and characteristics, as if developing a brand,” he said. “You want to create an immediate and emotional bond.”

Crosby’s creatives developed a metaphoric journey through the key phrase “living in a state of poverty.” To visualize the invisible, “we created travel artifacts,” said Walston.

The 60-second spot, shot on the Maryland shore, shows an ill-clad child facing a billboard stating “Poverty USA.” A voiceover concludes, “If you were poor, you’d be home by now.”

Ultimately, the effort targets public service directors of media outlets across the country, according to Barbara Stephenson, director of communications for CCHD. “They have to deem your issue and your creative as something worthy.”

Stephenson said that “ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox have all agreed to put [the spot] in rotation.” ABC was first, premiering the commercial in January. A Nielsen encoded tracking device and reply cards included in the print catalogs will give CCHD an idea of how well the ads play.

Web site hits are recorded by the U.S. Catholic Conference. “They send us figures on a monthly basis,” said Stephenson. “In a 60-second television spot you can only catch people’s attention. Crosby developed ways for the site to be useful and memorable.”

“We really wanted this to be about America,” said agency president Ray Crosby. “People equate starving with other countries; our job was to focus on America.”

The shop acquired the account in a review last fall against eight undisclosed agencies.