What's so bad about an early morning photo shoot? Nothing if you get to do it on the 19th floor rooftop of the SUNY College of Optometry. With a few gallons of coffee on hand, the DCF team watched photographer Jeremy Frechette capture the magic-hour light reflecting off the College's impressive campus (or as others tend to call it, Bryant Park). We affectionately call SUNY Optometry the best kept secret on 42nd Street. It's one of the best optometry schools and eye clinics in the world, but not many people know about it. Yet. We're helping them build public awareness through a total rebranding and new communications strategy.
Check out some behind-the-scenes shots from our photo shoot last week.
One of our favorite clients, Opportunity NYC, recently got some good news. The two-year anti-poverty pilot program sponsored by the Mayor’s Office and the Center for Economic Opportunity got more funding and will run for a third year. We’ve had a great time working with them for over a year and are thrilled to keep going for another one.*
They’ve let us have a lot of fun creating marketing materials to help keep participants excited and engaged. One of our campaign goals is to inspire people to take advantage of the program by sharing the stories of other participants who’ve done well, and some of the participants’ stories are pretty impressive. Breaking out of generational poverty is a rough and emotional endeavor, but these families are doing it. (We created a couple video testimonials about these families that you can watch on the ONYC website: http://www.opportunitynyc.org.)
We got to go to community holiday parties last year and photograph participant kids in action and covered in glitter at the arts and crafts table. That was a highlight. Another highlight was learning that attendance at workshops and events, calls to the help hotline and overall participation in the program have grown thanks in part to the postcards, newsletters, calendars, flyers, fact sheets, talking points, website and other stuff we’ve developed for them as part of an overall communications plan.
Keep an eye out for Opportunity NYC in the news. It’s going to be another great year.
*Opportunity NYC is a conditional cash-transfer program that basically encourages underprivileged families to complete certain activities—taking their kids to the dentist, working full time, etc.—in exchange for small cash payments. Programs like this have had tremendous success in reducing poverty in Latin America and this is the first of its kind in the U.S.
If you were a teen dealing with a mental health issue like, let’s say, depression, would you feel comfortable walking into your school counselor’s office and asking for self-diagnostic brochures and fact sheets?
Hopefully many of you would, but a lot of you might be worried a friend or acquaintance would see you, or judge you, or ask you questions you weren’t ready to answer. Mental health issues, especially for teens, are still accompanied by significant stigma, and unfortunately that translates to a lot of teens not asking for and getting the information they need.
That a government agency might be hip to what the youngsters are up to these days seems to be a novel idea the world over. In addition to being picked up by papers across the country, articles about Mindspace from the AP, UPI, and EFE are showing up in other parts of the world too. England and India are curious about NYC teens, as are Spanish speakers in the U.S. and Mexico.
We’re quite pleased that the vast majority of page views are coming from New York City, our intended target, but it’s also cool that they’re coming from Italy, Colombia, and France to name just a few other locales.
Here are a few highlights from the press we’ve gotten so far.
And bloggers are checking out the site too. The New York Times City Room wrote about the campaign last week and later on it showed up on BuzzFeed. The New York Magazine Daily Intel got a little snippy, but we’re cool with that. It’s what they do.
You may have seen Marie around the city in the past couple days. She’s the one with the amputated fingers. Her hands are hard to miss and hard to stop thinking about too. We met her last year when we were developing a new anti-smoking campaign for New York’s Department of Health. To follow up on our “Smoking is Eating You Alive” spots, we wanted to tell the story of a real New Yorker who has really suffered from smoking.
We got to know Marie pretty well (check out the pictures from her photo and video shoots). Like any born-and-bred New Yorker, she told her story like it is, sparing no details about what her smoking-related sicknesses have done to her (it turns out amputations were just the beginning…).
Cute kids! Second-hand smoke! Terrible combination! We developed a large-scale, multiple media campaign to remind Harlem residents of all the ways cigarette smoke can damage a kid’s health. Ads dominated the 125th St station on the 6 train and home kits were handed out at locations throughout the neighborhood.
311 is New York’s number for everything. The NYC Department of Health wanted to promote it as an alternative to giving change to homeless people on the street. We created subway ads asking New Yorkers to “give the homeless the kind of change they can really use” by calling 311. An operator can dispatch a street team to get the homeless real help.
We had a week to develop this campaign to convince New Yorkers to give up their bottled water in favor of tap. We must work well under pressure because these ads attracted a lot of attention. They still make us thirsty.
Photographing children is difficult, but it's a little easier when they're this darn cute - as we learned recently while taking photos for an innovative Harlem-based anti-smoking campaign. View the finished campaign here.
Remember Ronaldo Martinez? He was featured in a slew of anti-smoking commercials around 2000. The spots showed Ronaldo’s life after he had his voice box removed from throat cancer caused by smoking. Ronaldo on Wikipedia
We decided to follow up with Ronaldo for a new anti-smoking campaign with the NYC Department of Health. We didn’t expect it to be so hard. It took Laura months, and a couple hundred phone calls, to track him down. He’d been living in Puerto Rico, then moved back to the Bronx, but finally we found him and recorded some powerful spots in our photo studio.
The Department of Health let us create an online anti-smoking send-a-message that people could pass on to people they love who smoke. Hearing Ronaldo confront you about quitting directly is a very powerful message indeed.
You know you’ve got New York’s attention when Andrea Peyser of the Post writes a column about you. Our “Cigarettes are Eating You Alive” campaign sparked some controversy, but it got people to quit smoking. We combined computer-generated imagery of the inside of a body diseased from cigarettes and real photos in commercials to drive home the damage smoking can do.
There’s nothing more New York than the subway and… sex. Not necessarily together of course, though we combined them when we branded and designed the packaging for the nation’s first municipally sponsored condoms. People from Oklahoma to Japan talked about these condoms, and we heard there are even a few on eBay now.
Shooting a demo spot for a focus group is tough. Shooting 6 demo spots in a week for a focus group is even tougher. Special thanks to Jamil from Taure Creative for pulling a few all-nighters to help us get the job done.
Our client, the NYC Department of Health, needed to promote its domestic violence helpline, CONNECT. They didn’t only want to target people suffering from violence, but the bystanders who know it’s happening and, for whatever reason don’t do anything about it.