This pro bono idea from Leo Burnett won’t go live till tomorrow, but I’m blogging about it today because, well, it’s that good.
On a very busy street in downtown Toronto, a charity called Raising the Roof has taken over an alleyway and constructed a house made entirely of cardboard. The purpose of this stunt is to bring attention to the plight of Canada’s homeless, who, of course, often have nothing more than cardboard to use as shelter, even in winter.
As a Toronto idea, this is particularly good and interesting for a number of reasons. It’s deliciously ironic because, as every Torontonian knows, pretty much every street in the city is a construction site for one or more condominium towers. (As a matter of fact, there’s a new condo going up right next door to the cardboard house.) It’s also interesting when one considers the hoops the agency probably had to go through to make this project legally possible: getting permission from the alleyway’s owner, getting approval from City Hall for a temporary structure, commissioning a plan for the house, ensuring it would be safe, buying liability insurance in case the damned thing collapses on someone, and so on.
There’s a teaching moment in all of this, apart from the moment provided by the purity and excellence of the concept itself. If you ever come up with a truly breakthrough idea, there’s a good chance that making it happen will involve a long and fussy to-do list like the one in the preceding paragraph. I have seen many good ideas die on the vine simply because people couldn’t bring themselves to grapple with all those details. The fatal error involves assigning any of the details to your client – even if the client expresses the willingness to help. I have no doubt that Raising the Roof worked as hard on this as Leo Burnett, but in my experience, the follow-through from busy clients on demanding initiatives tends to be poor. We as creatives might get support from agency colleagues, but we shouldn’t count on it. If you’re ambitious, you will discover quickly that your success as a creative person will be commensurate with your willingness to also take on many of the thankless duties of a junior account person.
Congrats to the creative team of Steve Persico and Anthony Chelvanathan, who are sure to do well with this one.