Miami Agency Speaks Up for the Homeless Voice

Crispin Porter + Bo-gusky’s advertising campaign for the Homeless Voice newspaper substitutes irony and edginess for familiar stereotypes.

Ads in the Miami shop’s upcoming print and outdoor subscription effort range from quirky (“Find out what all the cool homeless people are doing this weekend”) and humorous (“Don’t go looking for the real estate section”) to in-your-face (“It comes right to your home. Lucky bastard”).

“We didn’t want homeless people to come across as victims,” said CP+B associate creative director Ari Merkin. “We wanted to convey real personalities and sensibilities.”

To that end, the agency casts the print ads with individuals fromHollywood, Fla.’s Helping People in America homeless shelter.

Merkin wrote the copy which, under Silvana Widuczynski’s art direction, appears in the actual handwriting of shelter residents. Text is written on simulated cardboard, similar to the handmade appeals of street people. One outdoor message (“Thought for food”) plays off the familiar “Will work for food” plea of the indigent.

The ads will appear in area newspapers and periodicals including the Boca Raton Times, Coral Gables Gazette, South Florida Business Journal and Boca magazine, in the hope that the pro-bono work will be picked up by mainstream media like the The Miami Herald.

The campaign supports an effort to build a standard subscription base for the newspaper, which has been hawked by homeless people on metro Miami street corners. Revenue generated through the $50 annual subscription fees will support the shelter, which publishes the bi-monthly Homeless Voice.

Campaign strategy is to forge a connection between those without homes and the rest of us.

“There’s a perception that most homeless people are mentally ill,” said Merkin. “When we visited the shelter, we found functional members of society who had a bad turn of luck.”