Y&R Creates a Positive Spin for UNCF

NEW YORK A mind is still a terrible thing to waste, 32 years after Young & Rubicam created the tagline for the United Negro College Fund. In each of six new Y&R print ads, which began running this week, the line divides the bright, smiling face of an African American child with something connected to dreams, such as an open book or a violin.

Copy in the ads by the New York shop, which has worked on the UNCF campaign since 1972, reads, “We are all born with limitless potential. Help us make sure that we all have a chance to achieve.”

The previous print campaign, which broke two years ago and ran until the beginning of this year, showed people in poverty-stricken situations, such as a shabbily dressed woman with a baby and a superimposed high school yearbook face with a dream. The woman’s dream, for example, was to “attend college and then teach at one.”

This time creatives wanted to take a more positive spin. “We had the ‘Mind is a terrible thing to waste’ line that told you the issue so clearly. There’s a great juxtaposition there—what if the mind is fulfilled, if it isn’t wasted?” said Bob Potesky, creative director and copywriter on the campaign. “We were working against the line; it’s the complete message that tells you the need and shows you the reward.”

James Caporimo was executive creative director, and Bob Steigelman served as creative director and art director. Chicago-based photographer Dennis Manarchy shot the ads.

The children in the ads were cast because of their “innocent optimism,” Potesky said. They portrayed “that innocence that you have when the world is in the palm of your hand, truly believe in what you want to be and do before the real world intrudes, and tells you what you’re going to be later when you grow up.”