Downtown ad men raise hell to help homeless

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March 3, 2003 // UPDATED 9:08 am - April 30, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

Poster campaign aids homeless shelter

The creative minds at Fallon ad agency shifted gears from their much-touted BMW movie ads to do a pro bono publicity campaign for a homeless shelter, trying to rev up donations of time and money.

Posters have already started showing up in Downtown buildings, reading: "There is a word the homeless use to describe the fear of death. February." Or, "The current temperature in hell: -10 F."

They carry the tagline: "Remember our homeless," and direct people to call Simpson Housing Service to help.

Fallon Creative Director Bruce Bildsten, Senior Art Director Tom Riddle and copyrighter Reuben Hower collaborated on posters.

"We are going to try to blanket churches, social service agencies, anywhere we can get them up," Bildsten said. "I think there is a perception out there that there is a lot more help for the homeless than there is. The shelters run on a shoestring. They are incredibly underfunded."

Fallon, 50 S. 6th St., has ties to Simpson Housing Services, which operates a shelter in the basement of Simpson United Methodist Church, 2740 1st Ave. S., and a transitional housing program.

Each December, Fallon closes its doors for a community service day, and a group of staffers goes to Simpson, Bildsten said. Last year they repainted the church basement.

Riddle said three years ago Simpson staff asked for help with a publicity campaign, a request now bearing fruit.

Riddle and independent photographer Tom Strand walked Downtown and South Minneapolis streets on a bitter February night to take shots for the first posters.

"We wanted these to be hard-hitting and catch people emotionally," Riddle said. "We plan to do two to three different posters a month for the next six months."

Riddle said the February photo shoot started at 9 p.m. and finished around midnight. "We realized if we had tried to stay outside that night, I don't think we could have made it. It was that cold," he said.

Other images will challenge people's perceptions of the homeless, Riddle said. A significant number of people in shelters work low-paying, full-time jobs and can't afford an apartment.

One poster reads: "It is not surprising that he just finished a 10-hour shift. It's that he spent the next 3 looking for a safe place to sleep."

Bildsten hoped the posters change people's perceptions "little by little," he said.

Fallon plans to make letter-sized versions of the posters available for public display. For copies, contact Kay Murphy, Simpson Housing Services, 874-8683, ext. 204.