Rea Promotes ‘Random Acts of Kindness’

MIAMI Meeting a homeless man led Chad Rea to create a program to help the public learn the names of transients, the founder of 86 the Onions said during a talk at the 45th annual Clio Festival here today.

Rea used the story in his talk, “Random Acts of Kindness: Using Your Talents for the Forces of Good,” to emphasize how advertising and production industry personnel can contribute to society.

After meeting the homeless man, one of the hundreds of that populate Venice Beach, Calif., Rea felt called to action. “I no longer saw this man as a panhandler, but as someone not unlike me,” Rea said. “I began to wonder why he ended up there. … I wanted to get involved.”

The idea Rea came up with was to create giant name tags for the homeless. If the public learned their names, he reasoned, they would be more likely to treat them with respect. Using donated printing and paper, the shop created 5,000 name tags. It then sent 10 each to photographers around the world, asking them to distribute the signs and send back photos of the homeless with their name tags. To date, more than 3,500 signs have been distributed in 17 countries. The photographs are slated to appear on a Web site and in a book.

Rea urged the audience to find a similar ways of reaching out and helping people. “You don’t need big budgets to make a difference, only big ideas,” he said. “What began as a chance encounter between two strangers sparked a simple idea that has hopefully demonstrated how easy it is to also use our talents for the forces of good.”

Today is the last day of the Clio Festival. The TV & Radio Gala will be held tonight at the Eden Roc Resort & Spa in Miami Beach.

The Clio Awards are owned by VNU, Adweek‘s parent company.