The Scariest Monster This Halloween Doesn’t Exactly Look the Part

KBS's chilling campaign about missing children

Check out the face below. It’s a nondescript, “normal” face. There’s nothing particularly memorable, or even threatening, about it. This face could belong to millions of dudes. Millions of dads, uncles, cousins, brothers.

But make no mistake: It’s the face of a monster. The kind of monster who victimizes and snatches children every single day.

This is the face of an “Everyday Monster,” created by Missing Children Society of Canada and agency KBS, using photo recognition technology and AI to meld the data points from mugshots of 78 convicted child adbuctors found in a publicly searchable database.

The countenance will appear in digital and rich media assets, as well as on posters, as part of an effort to debunk the myth that portrays abductors as Hollywood-style “random evil strangers” (which, statistics show, is overwhelmingly not the case).

“We created the ‘Everyday Monster’ to call attention to the fact that cases of missing children are not limited to strictly Amber Alerts and the stereotype of strangers driving white unmarked cargo vans,” says MCSC CEO Amanda Pick. “Children are reported missing every day, and those cases include vulnerable youth, endangered runaways and even being abducted by a non-custodial parent.”

Trick or Treat Studios transformed the face into a custom Halloween mask for this unsettling campaign video:

“The mask was absolutely necessary to create because it’s a memorable and relatable visual cue that can break through and help overcome the common misperceptions that the public has about child abduction and stranger danger,” says KBS global creative chief Patrick Scissons.

“Simply sharing a statistic that says ’78 percent of child abductions are made by someone the child knows’ isn’t going to be memorable,” he says. “Showcasing that alarming statistic in a creative way that leverages an important cultural event—like Halloween, when children are top-of-mind—is much more compelling.”

Ultimately, the most heinous monsters can hide in plain sight, masked by the apparent banality—or even familiarity—of their everyday lives. Often, they know their young victims extremely well. This initiative forces us to face that sad, frightening reality.

Client: Missing Children Society of Canada
Agency: KBS New York / KBS Montreal
Global Chief Creative Officer: Patrick Scissons
Executive Creative Director: Oliver Handlos, Sacha Ouimet
Senior Art Director: Steve Cady
Senior Copywriter: Mike Palma
Copywriters: Fanny Josefsson, Victor Rivera
Art Directors: Ilana Wolstein, Sarah Arrington, Ambre Chekly
Executive Producer: Kim Jose
Associate Producer: George Marks
Director & Photographer: Megan Jolly
Editor: Anna Pascual
Senior Motion Designer: Chet Lombardo

@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.