‘The Homeless Read Mean Tweets’ in PSA from Leo Burnett Toronto

By Erik Oster 

Last month, Canadian agency john st. launched a campaign entitled “Kids Read Mean Tweets,” which riffed on the popular “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” segment Jimmy Kimmel Live for the¬†Canadian Safe School Network. Well, offering up takes on the segment appears to be a trend in PSAs out of Canada, as Leo Burnett Toronto has created the similarly-minded “The Homeless Read Mean Tweets” for Raising the Roof Canada.

Whereas “Kids Read Mean Tweets” started relatively mild and light-hearted and became progressively more brutal as the spot went on, demonstrating the emotional toll of cyberbullying, Leo Burnett’s effort, while also increasing in intensity throughout the spot, is rough right from the get-go. After viewers are informed that what follows are real mean tweets, read by people living with homelessness, a young couple reads, “I hate the homeless. I don’t feel sorry for you. If you want change, then let me throw it as hard as I can at your dirty face.” It’s hard to imagine anyone saying something so despicable in person, but once again Twitter proves a cesspool for anonymous bullying. The horrific tweets keep coming as viewers see the emotional toll they take on those reading them, which gets more and more heartbreaking over the course of the ad’s duration, becoming increasingly hard to watch (as it should be).

While the framework for the ad is hardly original, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t quite emotionally affecting, humanizing an issue that many ignore (and which doesn’t have the same in-vogue status as the issue of cyberbullying). There’s also a¬†campaign website with further videos, exploring the reactions of those involved as well as their personal histories.