When Justin Bieber (allegedly) gets high on $800-a-bottle, prescription-strength cough syrup, the news is splashed all over the covers of supermarket tabloids. A new ad campaign for Toronto-based WoodGreen Community Services imagines what the world would be like if the same amount of attention were paid to the everyday problems and humiliations of struggling single mothers. The posters, which have started appearing in TTC stations, are note-perfect imitations of the covers of weekly celebrity rags like US Weekly, Star and In Touch. As subway advertising goes, they’re unusually poignant.
The tagline—“What if we cared about those living in poverty as much as we care about celebrities?”—is a little puzzling. (Would anybody really want to live in a world that fetishized poverty, other than maybe teenage fans of the musical Rent?) Regardless, the campaign by DDB Canada gets its point across: celebrities consume vast amounts of attention and money, while those who could actually use a little extra notice and cash are toiling away in total obscurity, trying to pay rent and keep their kids fed.
The women in the ads are actual clients of WoodGreen’s Homeward Bound program, which helps single mothers earn college diplomas and start careers. More information about the program, and the ad campaign, is available on WoodGreen’s website. And embedded below are some larger images of the posters, plus a TV spot on the same theme: