In April 2010, we were, once again, standing in front of a blank canvas. The United Way of Greater Houston was about to launch their annual campaign, and it was time to refresh the organization’s look.
To be fair, the canvas was not completely blank.
We have worked with United Way for years, and we know not dwell on the negative. Yes, the statistics about Houston’s social needs are grim, but the results of United Way’s work are equally strong. It has been our task to relate the success stories to our community – to inspire, to show what can be done, and to hope that we can touch even more of those in need.
So, the brainstorming began.
We poured over case studies… Teenager about to graduate thanks to a caring mentor… Mother who is able to work because her son attends affordable, quality childcare… Senior who stays connected, thanks to a community center. Story after story, we saw how seemingly simple acts of help can turn a person’s life around.
In the end, it was our writer, Diana Hickerson, who saw the common thread … ‘How about “Possibilities?”’ Possibilities indeed! We know that everybody wants a good life, families dream of stability, children wish for happy childhoods – but often they need a bridge to turn their dreams into possibilities. And, for the last 88 years, United Way has been that bridge for millions in Houston.
How would you illustrate “possibilities”? We chose to capture people’s hopes and passion in chalk board drawings. Next step: photography.
While the photographer, Felix Sanchez, was building a chalkboard wall in his studio, the United Way team of Anne Neeson, Krista Heide, Ed Davis and others were busy making arrangements with their clients. On June 14, we were ready to start. What followed were two intense, but very rewarding weeks.
We got to meet children in summer programs; seniors rejoicing in their independence; families benefiting from child care services or parenting classes; people in recovery… all excited to participate and eager to share their stories.
We learned that nothing will stand between a child and a chalkboard. Pressing themselves against the board, the kids would swiftly create images of their dreams and passions. We saw rainbows and musical notes, swimming pools and star-filled skies, mathematical formulas and hand-holding families. A woman drew a house – her very own, a dream come true. A senior “held” an apple – grateful for the meal assistance that allows her to continue living independently. Fifteen photo sessions later; we had enough material to move on.
In the next weeks, we would revisit these stories, as they became the fiber of this year’s campaign: present in brochures, posters, ads, website and video.
We were excited to work with Locke Bryan Productions on an inspiring campaign video. Carrying forward the “Possibilities“ theme, Locke Bryan brought the chalkboard drawings to life through animated segments supporting the stories of several beneficiaries. You can view the result at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk6JqM0Bm_w
The campaign materials can be seen in the download section of the United Way website.
Client: United Way of Greater Houston
Writer: Diana Hickerson
Photography: Felix Sanchez
Creative team: Susan Pennebaker (strategy); Halina Dodd (creative direction); Jeffrey McKay (artistic direction); Thomas Moczygemba (design); Ana Cristina Fry (design)