Droga5 New York and The Y Strive ‘For a Better Us’

By Erik Oster 

Droga5 New York launched the first ever national ad campaign for The Y (which the YMCA rebranded as during a 2010 campaign), centered around two 60-second broadcast spots.

The ads highlight the important services The Y provides to underserved urban communities and the changes it can make in the lives of those communities’ inhabitants. “Places” opens with an overhead view of a West Baltimore neighborhood and the voiveover, “I’m here, can you see me? Because I feel like I’m invisible. Like this whole place is invisible.” Eventually the tone changes as the voiceover adds “But down here, things look different. Down here, our spirits are bright…” The Y, the ad implies, recognizes the potential of such communities, offering valuable services to its members. Text near the ads conclusion reads “When communities are forgotten the Y remembers,” before the ad ends with new “For a better us” tagline. In “Idle Hands,” meanwhile, Droga5 focuses on the valuable activities the organization offers young people, who otherwise might be drawn to more destructive pursuits. Beyond its scope, the campaign marks a decided shift in the brands focus, as it delves into issues which people amy not expect to see brought up by the brand.

“These are real issues, fears and conditions Americans face, which the Y works to mitigate on a daily basis,” Donna M. Bembenek, vice president of marketing communications for the Y, explained to Adweek. “We hope that these ads create a national conversation that helps to educate the public and changes perceptions of the Y. We want the public to see the Y in a new way: a leading charity addressing pressing social issues in communities nationwide—a charity worthy of donations and support. This is who we’ve been for more than 160 years, and our new campaign is designed to help more people understand that.”

“It was important to make the work real and not so sanitized,” added Droga5 executive creative director Kevin Brady. “This approach not only shows the true problems as they are but also cuts through the clutter on television and helps people feel the importance of these issues. You don’t tend to give money when everything is perfect, you give it when there is a true, urgent need, and the Y is addressing those needs every day of the week.”


Client: The Y
President / CEO: Kevin Washington
EVP, Chief Strategy / Advancement Officer: Kate Coleman
VP, Marketing Communications: Donna Bembenek:
Senior Director External Relations: Ryu Mizuno
Campaign: “For a better us”
Titles: “Places”
“Idle Hands”
Launch Date: 1/25/2015
Agency: Droga5 NY
Creative Chairman: David Droga
Chief Creative Officer: Ted Royer
Executive Creative Director: Kevin Brady
Creative Director: Casey Rand
Creative Director: Karen Land Short
Copywriter: Lincoln Boehm
Chief Creation Officer: Sally-Ann Dale
Head of Broadcast Production: Ben Davies
Senior Producer: Jennifer McKenzie
Global Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer
Head of Strategy: Chet Gulland
Strategy Director: Elaine Purcell
Group Communications Strategy Director: Duncan Owen
Senior Data Strategist: Eric Raicovich
Group Account Director: : Matt Ahumada
Account Director: : Amanda Chandler
Account Manager: Sara Fletcher
Project Manager: Rayna Lucier
Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Seb Edwards
Executive Producer: Mary Ann Marino
Producer: Martha English
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Ted Guard:
Assistant Editor: JK Carrington
Executive Producer: Eve Kornblum
Producer: Lisa Barnable
Postproduction: The Mill
Producer: Mile Pullan
Colorist: Fergus McCall
Flame artist: Kieran Hanrahan:
Music: Minibal
Benjamin Balcom
Sound: Hear City
Audio Engineer: Keith Reynaud