Homelessness knows no boundaries. It does not discriminate or recognize demographics; however, it does affect some groups of people at a greater rate than others. The LGBTQ+ community is one such group.
One in four homeless individuals in the United Kingdom identifies as LGBTQ+. This number rises to almost one in two in the United States, where LGBTQ+ youth are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts. Youth members of this community experience heightened levels of violence, abuse and exploitation in homeless shelters compared with their heterosexual peers, and transgender individuals are often barred from entering altogether.
British nonprofit organizations The Outside Project and Stonewall Housing aimed to provide housing for these individuals, but they needed assistance acquiring the funds to make it possible — they needed to raise awareness and inspire empathy to drive donations for the project.
Be prepared for homelessness.
AMV BBDO created ‘Coming Out Kits’ to distribute to revelers at Pride in London. Disguised as a traditional festival giveaway bag, the kit contained surprising swag: a sleeping bag, wool socks, knitted cap, cardboard sign and disposable coffee cup — all necessities when enduring homelessness. Each item is printed with a quote from a homeless LGBTQ+ individual, describing the circumstances of his or her displacement. These stories exemplify the factors that place this community at a greater risk for homelessness than others. Examples range from family rejection and domestic violence to work discrimination and sexual exploitation.
The two nonprofits hope that these direct tactics will raise community awareness and drive donations for the first LGBTQ+ crisis shelter and community center in the United Kingdom. The efforts follow on the heels of a successful pilot program, a temporary shelter the two organizations funded through crowdsourcing.
What they said:
“Pride in London has come and gone, but not everyone could go home afterwards. As well as celebrating the achievements of the movement, we need to acknowledge that too many people still end up on the street, just for being who they are,” said Gina Kelly and Olga Pope, the art director and copywriter on the project.
Lessons to be learned:
- Emphasize psychographics over demographics — Millennials this, Millennials that — everyone is tired of hearing about them and their interests. Even Millennials are over Millennials.
The overarching term serves as a demographic grouping of adults ages 22–37; however, it represents consumers at a variety of life stages. While some are mired in student debt and struggling to find their first postgraduate jobs, others are established professionals, raising a first child. This demonstrates the difficulty present in demographic classifications and their propensity to ignore the nuances critical to an effective strategy.
The key to consumers’ interests exists within their psychographics: collective interests, attitudes and aspirations. This serves as the basis for many successful online algorithms employed by companies like Amazon and Netflix, who received significant publicity for the recent release of its ‘taste communities’ strategy. The Coming Out Kits debuted at London Pride to individuals of all demographic groups but bound by similar interests and concerns.
- Relate it to the community — Orchestrating a shift from awareness to action serves as one of the key — albeit difficult — exercises confronting marketers. AMV BBDO confronts this issue head-on by beginning the process with a specific group of people who are already invested in the issue, as opposed to the larger community. Members of the LGBTQ+ community understand the complexities and potential dangers facing these youth on an intimate and visceral level.
- Reclaim the conversation — People have trained themselves to ignore homelessness. A subtle turn of the head, aversion of the eyes or glance at a cell phone is often all it takes to avoid facing the uncomfortable reality of human suffering in one’s own neighborhood. By disguising the kits — and the issue — as something different, AMV BBDO circumvented its audience’s ingrained aversion techniques and made them confront the issue.