Public Inc. shows how a little bit can have a huge impact for isolated seniors

Who: Meals on Wheels America, with Public Inc. for creative and strategy, Polyester Studio for animation.

What: “Give a little bit,” a new ad campaign for the American charity to encourage donations around the holidays. Public has an office in New York, but most of the work was done from the social impact agency’s home office in Toronto.

When & Where: The ad soft-launched last week, but gets a bigger media push through U.S. Thanksgiving this week. The focus is on paid digital, but a 30-second version is running on broadcast TV thanks to donated inventory from NBC Universal ahead of Giving Tuesday on Nov. 30.

Why: It was a “wide open brief” from Meals on Wheels for a holiday giving campaign showing how donations can have a transformative impact on the lives of seniors, said Public founder and CEO Phillip Haid.

The agency had been working on an evolved strategic positioning for the brand over the last couple of years and, in this ad, that new positioning is central to the creative. “The strategy underneath it is called ‘the power of a knock,’” said Haid.

The core value proposition of Meals on Wheels is the human interaction that comes with meal delivery, he said. “That knock on the door, what it does for a senior in terms of his or her mental health, physical health, nutritional health, their safety and security, it’s incredible. That was the starting point.”

How: The spot, which runs 45 seconds online, shows how an elderly woman—home alone with her cat, watching TV in a darkened living room—is suddenly transformed when she hears the knock from Meals on Wheels. As she walks through the house to answer the door, everything around her brightens up and comes alive. “You can help brighten a senior’s day,” says the closing super, accompanied by a request for donations and a push to

“I think the spot is sweet and kind and heartfelt, because it gets at that human truth, which is the essence of the organization,” said Haid.

Choosing animation was critical in the effectiveness of the execution, he said. “We just felt like animation was a great way to show the transformation, of how she gets a spring in her step and how things come alive because of that human interaction,” he said.

Along with the animation, there was one other critical factor for Public…

The music: The ad is soundtracked by Supertramp’s 1977 hit “Give a Little Bit.” Haid said the band and frontman/songwriter Roger Hodgson were very generous about using the song in the spot.

“I think it’s really, really important to the piece because it sets the tone,” said Haid. “It is trying to tie this idea that the little acts that people do take, sometimes we don’t think they can have a big impact. But in the case of vulnerable seniors who might not see a lot of people in any given week, it’s huge.”

And we quote: “There has never been a more important time to increase attention and support our senior neighbours. For so many, the isolation and loneliness we all experienced through the pandemic is their everyday way of life. “Give a Little Bit” shows us that it only takes a small act to make a huge difference.” — Kristine Templin, Meals on Wheels America chief development officer.


David Brown