Advertising agency Spawn Ideas has launched the latest edition of its 90x2020 initiative for the United Way of Anchorage, a multi-year, integrated-marketing campaign that aims to raise funds that the organization will use to increase the local high school graduation rate to 90% by 2020.
“Look Beyond the Labels” is the tagline for the 2019 campaign, which is targeting TV, print, radio and digital media to show people the various barriers that keep students from getting an education.
“The strategic idea was to give Anchorage a story they could root for and include them in the solution,” said Kaylee Devine at Spawn Ideas. “So many times, people look at kids who skip school or who do poorly as bad or lazy, when the truth is we don't know what they're going through. They might have to take care of younger siblings or maybe don't get enough to eat and can't concentrate enough to do well.”
The objective of “Look Beyond the Labels” is to tell stories that create empathy for students who are having trouble staying in school and, it is hoped, to generate donations to United Way programs that research has shown can help them graduate. The initiative has been successful thus far: When it began in 2005, the graduation rate was 59.6% [compared with the national average of 73%]. It has risen to 81.6% in 2019.
In one TV ad, set in a classroom, the camera focuses on a student who stares straight ahead with a dead-eyed glaze. “I’M NOT SMART ENOUGH,” the screen reads. However, as the camera pans back, additional text appears, making the picture—and the kid’s words—come into better focus. “It’s not that I’M NOT SMART,” the young man explains. “I just can’t think when I don’t get ENOUGH to eat.”
“Not Smart Enough”
In “I HATE SCHOOL,” we learn that what a teenage girl actually loathes is getting teased by other students about wearing dirty clothes to class. “There’s more to every kid’s story,” a female narrator says, before directing viewers to the 90by2020.org website to learn more about how they can help Anchorage students graduate.
“I Hate School”
Print ads use a similar tack and feature teens with sensational labels like, “I’M A LOST CAUSE” or “I’M JUST LAZY.” However, when we look closer and read between the lines, we see smaller text that helps tell a more complete story.
The campaign is running as both paid media (radio, TV, digital) and PSAs (TV) in Anchorage, Alaska. PSAs will continue throughout spring 2019. The digital buy was enhanced with Google AdWords and had a strong presence at local newspaper site ADN.com.
Advertising Agency: Spawn Ideas
Advertised Brand: United Way of Anchorage
Campaign Title: “Look Past the Labels”