Fashion Mannequins Fall on Hard Times in Homeless Advocacy Campaign

JWT raises awareness on a shoestring budget

Mannequins usually symbolize the consumer ideal of the "good life," draped in couture and jewelry in department-store window displays. But now they've fallen on hard times in a JWT stunt meant to raise money for Amsterdam's growing homeless population.

Agency staffers rounded up unused mannequins, dressed them in ragged clothes and placed them around the city with cardboard signs asking for money. Each mannequin also had a piggy-bank-style donation slot cut into its head, and donations went to advocacy group BADT.

Critics might suggest that using "dummies" somehow demeans or trivializes the homeless, but I think it powerfully underscores just how dehumanizing it can be to live on the streets.

Produced in a week on a budget of less than 100 Euros, the effort seems to have yielded a good number of donations and, more importantly, attention for the issue. 

Still, I wonder how many passed the mannequins by with barely a glance? And how often do we ignore flesh-and-blood human beings, shivering beneath rags and huddled in doorways? Sadly, such sights are so common, they can fail to move us, or else they simply don't register anymore.

Homelessness dehumanizes us all. Even those of us who have homes.

Via Ads of the World.

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.