By Lauren O'Neil, CBC News, February 3, 2014 - Would you rather keep up with the Kardashians, or think about the plight of struggling single mothers in your own community?
This is the core question posed by a widely praised Canadian ad campaign that replaces celebrity scandals with tales of poverty-stricken women on the covers of glossy tabloid-style magazines.
Created by DDB Canada for Toronto's WoodGreen Community Services, the campaign is intended to promote a program called Homeward Bound, which provides homeless or struggling single moms with childcare, affordable housing and the means to become self-sufficient.
"Learning about celebrities is fun," reads the community agency's website, "but there are people who need our attention much more: struggling single mothers."
A series of fake magazine covers and several videos introducing beneficiaries of the program have made the rounds online in recent weeks, prompting many to share the campaign and ask, as the posters do, "What if we cared about those in poverty as much as we care about celebrities?"
Alongside its digital component, the multi-platform campaign includes large transit posters across the city of Toronto and a TV commercial.
The commercial parodies an entertainment news and celebrity gossip program. In the spot, which was also posted to YouTube, the smiling hosts of Gossip Today throw to upcoming stories.
"Working 15 hours a day just to feed her kids — why this single mom can't make ends meet," reads one smiling host.
"Not enough money for second-hand shoes, Sarah Campbell cuts her shopping trip short!" says the other.
The description under the YouTube video asks viewers to sign a petition for increased provincial funding so that the Homeward Bound program can expand. It also encourages supporters to use the hashtag #ChangeTheConversation.
"Make the government care too," reads WoodGreen's website. "Let Premier Wynne know that Ontario must do more to help struggling single mothers move out of poverty so they can take care of their family."
Copyright © CBC 2014