DDB’s gang life antidote

Gang culture has infected the streets of Vancouver.

Gang culture has infected the streets of Vancouver.

A recent campaign by DDB Vancouver for Vancouver-based A Community That Cares hopes to serve as a vaccination for impressionable youth who think gang life is cool, thanks to pop culture icons like 50 Cent.

‘We likened [gang life] to getting a disease,’ explains Daryl Gardiner, ACD at DDB Vancouver, adding that when they were speaking to friends and family of gang members, there was a recurring theme of loss. ‘They were horrifying stories…it infects your life.’

The skeptical, savvy target – teens and pre-teens – is hard to reach. So the campaign includes a heavy guerrilla component: branded shell casings; faux gang recruitment posters; and a mysterious phone number spray painted around the city. When kids call, they hear that the ‘gang member’ they’re trying to reach is either dead or in jail.

‘Being subversive was our main goal – getting the message out without being preachy,’ says Gardiner. ‘We’re trying to show them what the consequences are.’

There’s also a 30-second TV spot comparing gang life to contracting HIV or cancer.

‘There wasn’t a lot of money with this client, [but] it’s going to feel like a bigger budget campaign [because of all the elements],’ says Gardiner, adding that everyone at the agency is really passionate about the cause, and as a result they went to the table with a lot of ideas. ‘It was carte blanche – a chance to do something really different and really gritty.’

It was Tribal DDB that came up with the buzz-generating idea of scattering shell casings branded with the website, www.stayout.ca, around popular youth hangouts like outdoor basketball courts.

client: Daljit Palmer, Kabir Shaukat Ali, founders, A Community That Cares

agency: DDB Vancouver/Tribal DDB Vancouver

CDs: Alan Russell, Cosmo Campbell

copywriters: Michael Mayes, Daryl Gardiner, Ryan Leeson, Cosmo Campbell, Michael P. Northy

ADs: Daryl Gardiner, Alex Beim, Cosmo Campbell

agency producer: Sue Bell

account managers: Brett MacFarlane, Sabine Hamer

prodco: Lux Visual Effects

directors: Kevin Little, Daryl Gardiner

editor: Kevin Little