Boys & Girls Clubs Ad Evokes Fear Through Implied Dangers

Uses emotional approach to court prospective donors

Boys & Girls Clubs of America took a new, more emotional approach in its latest campaign, created with Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Los Angeles.

The ad explores the dangers that students face at 3 p.m., when the school bell rings and millions of children are "out on their own, out with nowhere to go, out with nothing to do, out all afternoon when anything can happen."

It focuses on situations that imply danger without showing any direct harm: a strange man beckons for the attention of two girls walking home; a group of boys jumps a fence; a large group of children loiters without purpose. But the PSA ends on a positive note, with Denzel Washington saying: "Every afternoon is a chance to change America's future. All you have to do is open the door. It’s time to support the Boys & Girls Clubs. Great futures start here."

The fear-stoking approach may come across as over-the-top at times—such as when a boy plays on train tracks, seemingly oblivious to an oncoming train's horn—but it was designed to address a specific image issue for the organization.

"They have a unique problem in that they do amazing, amazing work," Sue Anderson, ecd at the Los Angeles office of Crispin Porter & Bogusky, told The New York Times, "but because they essentially are keeping children happy and well looked after, there’s no sense of urgency to people donating."

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America hopes the new approach will give people that sense of urgency. A print campaign further addresses the charity's perception as a "swim and gym" club by showing children engaged in activities such as guitar lessons, tutoring and robotic engineering.

While the broadcast campaign is reliant on donated advertising placements, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America told The New York Times it "already has commitments to run the commercial broadly from networks including NBC, ABC and ESPN." The campaign will be introduced this Thursday in Times Square at 3 p.m., timed to coincide with school dismissal. More than 60 websites will run digital ads at the same time (with some sites even sounding a school bell), including Pandora, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Additionally, celebrity supporters like LeBron James and Jennifer Lopez have signed on to send out messages to their followers on social media.

In the past, the Atlanta-based organization tended to rely on the star power of celebrity alumni such as Washington, Lopez, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Martin Sheen while showing young people enjoying its facilities. While Washington narrates the latest ad, it is otherwise a stark departure from previous approaches.



Client: Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Campaign Title: "3 p.m."

Execution Title: "50 Million"

Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky

Vice President, Executive Creative Director: Sue Anderson

Creative Director: Hoj Jomehri

Senior Art Director: Mary Dauterman

Senior Copywriter: Chelsea O’Brien

Vice President, Video Production Director: Kate Hildebrant

Vice President, Senior Integrated Producer: Ramon Nuñez

Junior Producer: Autumn Hines

Integrated Music Producer: Chip Herter

Senior Business Affairs Manager: Natalie Greenman

Production: Little Minx, Santa Monica, Calif.

Director: Rodrigo Prieto

Executive Producers: Rhea Scotts Rania Hattar

Line Producer: Jan Wieringa

Production Supervisor: Tim Nolan

Postproduction: Black Hole, Santa Monica

Producer: Dale Nicholls

Lead Compositor: James Bohn

Editing: Lost Planet, Los Angeles

Executive Producer: Gary Ward

Producer: Tim Kirkpatrick

Editor: Hank Corwin

Assistant Editor: Federico Brusilovsky

Composer: Arvo Pärt

Mix, Sound Design: Lime Studios, Santa Monica