Salvation Army’s reminder that ‘stay home’ isn’t an option for the homeless

Who: The Salvation Army, with Grey for creative and MediaCom for media, with Grayson for audio.

What: An ad campaign reminding Canadians that the homeless need support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When & Where: The campaign is running now on PSA TV space, with a small digital buy.

Why: Because social distancing and staying safe is particularly challenging for the 235,000 Canadians who are homeless or living in shelters. The goal is to raise awareness and drive donations for those who have no home to stay in.

The campaign started not with a request from The Salvation Army, but a suggestion from Grey. “They didn’t ask for anything, but we identified a need,” said James Ansley, Grey’s senior vice-president, managing director and executive creative director. Grey has been working with The Salvation Army for more than a decade, and understands how they work, what they do and the challenges they face.

“In all honesty they have a million things to worry about [and] advertising was far down that list. But we wanted to support them and help them, so we reached out,” said Ansley.

How: The TV was shot by members of the Grey creative team on their iPhones, and shows empty streets and closed facilities where the homeless spend so much of their time. There are a couple of stock shots, including the homeless man at the end of the spot, but almost all of it is from Grey creatives, said Ansley.

Another creative execution reimagines The Salvation Army’s iconic shield as one of the ubiquitous masks so widely associated with the pandemic. “During this global pandemic, everyone needs an army,” reads the headline. “Everyone needs an army” was adopted by The Salvation Army in December 2019.

The Grey creative team realized that platform was particularly apt for this moment. “One of our creatives, Ryan McNeill, recognized ‘You know, we can fit an idea under this very quickly, under this campaign platform,'” said Ansley. “So we went to them and said, this platform makes sense. This is what we can do using that platform. And this is how we would do it.”

Quote: “‘Everyone Needs an Army’ highlights the breadth of work The Salvation Army does to help Canadians. From flood relief to homelessness to a global pandemic we are here for them.” —Neil Luduke, national director of marketing and communications, The Salvation Army.

David Brown