Dans la rue, Publicis provide instructions for homeless youth

Who: Dans la rue (“In the Street”) and Publicis Montreal.

What: An awareness and fundraising campaign called “Homelessness doesn’t come with an instruction manual.”

When & Where: First launched in December via direct mail, the campaign has expanded to include web, social media, TV and billboards all across Montreal. A second wave is planned for March.

Why: Established in 1988, Dans la rue is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless and at-risk youth. The need for its services has grown during the pandemic.

“For young people with no address, no shower, no fridge, no proper clothes and no mental support, Dans La Rue needs funding to continue offering its essential services to those in need,” said Publicis Montreal creative director Magalie Samson.

How: The campaign uses dark humour to satirize the real-life situations homeless youth face on a day-to-day basis, providing them with tongue-in-cheek instructions for dealing with the challenges.

It is highlighted by three cartoon videos that use the organization’s black and yellow colour scheme: “How to sleep in the street?,” “How to eat in the street?” and “How to find help in the street?” Each video provides tongue-in-cheek instructions for how to fill the (literal) hole in their stomach, finding shelter, or getting assistance.

The “How to eat in the street?” video, for example, shows a young person fighting with a raccoon for a discarded piece of pizza, while the “How to sleep in the street?” video shows a young person using a bone to lure a dog out of its doghouse before taking over the space.

“Knowing that the younger generation often uses sarcasm and humour to talk about serious matters, we decided to shift our tone. And what better way to demonstrate the absurdity of homelessness than absurdity?” said copywriter Éléonore Hurtubise.

And we quote: “If homeless youth had an instruction manual to help them out, they would be fine, right? With these messages, we helped people realize the absurdity of this idea. At the end of the day, young people living in the street really do need the help of Dans La Rue, like they need ours to get more donations.” – Magalie Samson, creative director, Publicis Montréal

Chris Powell