The familiar Southern drawl of Civil War historian Shelby Foote is meant to help convey the message that the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta is the best way to affect large-scale, measurable change in the local community.
The spot was produced by the organization's agency of record, Atlanta's Bayless & Partners, on a pro bono basis. The ad will be complemented by radio, print and out-of-home executions, all carrying "The power of community" theme.
The public service spot, "Child," opens on a middle-aged man with weathered features. It is quickly apparent the man is in prison, and as he passes the day simply killing time, the voiceover is heard.
"It's been said that the child is the father of the man," Foote says. "So if we want that man to be an adult with purpose--with opportunity--if we want him to have a life of value, shouldn't we start with the child?" As the convict turns to the camera on the last line, he changes into the young boy he was, presumably before he became a criminal. Foote's voice comes in again, with the final message: "It's time to unite our efforts, our resources. There is a way. The United Way."
"United Way is saying if we're serious about getting the tough work done, it's going to take all of us to do it," agency founder Tim Bayless said. "This spot offers one concrete example we can all relate to; when we give kids opportunity and hope early in life, we make crime an unthinkable option."
Bayless was also instrumental in the creation of United Way 211, a phone number that Atlantans can call when they need access to local services, or when they want to help. These efforts come on the heels of a survey of what people in the community expect from the United Way.
"Loud and clear, we heard that United Way should be about making this community a better, safer place in which to live," said Terry Rooke, volunteer chair of the group's marketing executive committee and president of The Rooke Group.