How Do You Break Through Apathy? One Agency Tries for Rage

Stunt tricks Londoners into rallying for the poor

Pleas to help the poor are usually ignored. So what if you turned things around and started advocating against the poor? Would anyone come to their defense?

Publicis London put that question to the test with an experiment for The Pilion Trust. The agency stuck a guy with a "FUCK THE POOR" sandwich board on a busy London street and filmed people telling him off.

After plenty of heated reactions, including a police officer telling him "that's offensive" and a near fight with a homeless man, the organizers flipped the sign around to say "HELP THE POOR" in the same font, same presentation, and filmed everyone ignoring him. The resulting film has already gone viral, with over 1.2 million views in three days.

It's an interesting experiment, but does it really prove that people care about the poor? It seems more like it proves that people enjoy being self-righteous on topics where they know most people agree with them. The truth is, it doesn't cost anything to be offended.

I'd like to see if those people who got upset really did care enough to give. Publicis should design another experiment with two guys, one with a "help the poor" just down the street from the "fuck the poor" guy. Then we'll see how many people who yelled at one actually donated to the other.


Client: The Pilion Trust

Advertising Agency: Publicis, London

Director: Jonathan Pearson

Creative Director: Andy Bird

Art Director: Jolyon Finch

Copywriter: Steve Moss

Producer: Adam Dolman

Director of Photography: Peter Bathurst

Agency Producers: Sam Holmes, Colin Hickson

Editor: Toby Conway Hughes at Marshall Street

Postproduction: Absolute

Sound Design: Wave

Typographer: Andy Breese

@rebeccacullers Rebecca Cullers is a contributor to Adweek.