The mission of Digitas, a Publicis Media agency, is to unite and inspire people through truth, connection and wonder. As I viewed the agency’s new public service announcements that are part of its Bring Good Home campaign, developed in partnership with Goodwill Industries and the Ad Council, I saw how this driving principle infused its work. Atit Shah, Chief Creative Officer, Digitas North America recently shared with MediaVillage insights into his team’s creative approach to this campaign and offered some thoughts on the future of PSAs overall.
Mary Ellen Holden: How did Digitas brand values influence your creative vision/direction for this work?
Atit Shah(pictured below): Our pursuit of truth is reflected in this campaign in little, hidden and not-so-hidden ways that connect with the authentic love of thrifting culture. Print ads for Bring Good Home, running in local newspapers, celebrate real shoppers and real finds. In the video, our creative directors sourced a vintage Lefton cat-faced China teapot ... a legit jackpot for thrifters that resells for hundreds of dollars. [People] who spot those details feel a special chemistry with the campaign; a feel-good magic. As a result, the campaign is turning up in Facebook groups for collectors. My team loves Goodwill -- they are borderline fanatics. That passion is reflected in the casting, the music, even the pacing of the film.
Holden: Your approach stands in stark contrast to other Hollywood-driven Ad Council PSAs. Was that the client’s direction or your own intuition?
Shah: It comes from our shared understanding of the target. Thrift culture isn’t born from celebrity and aspirational norms. It’s inherently for theoffbeat, the outliers and alternatively the deal-seeking pragmatists. Reaching our intended audience takes a different sensibility.
Holden: What do you love most about this campaign?
Shah: Putting aside the intentional quirks, there is a sweetness to the message. A sense of local warmth and town togetherness that feels kind of timely and necessary right now.
Holden: What are the measures of success for this campaign?
Shah: We hope to make Goodwill the go-to thrift store by raising awareness of the local impact Goodwill purchases make. Did you know that the organization allocates more than 87% of domestic merchandise sales to job training and support services for careers in demand within its local community? We will track social activations including #BringGoodHome, which highlights how purchases help neighbors who are unemployed, underemployed or looking to transition their careers. We will also follow visits to Goodwill.org.
Holden: What role does pro bono and/or social impact work serve within the agency?
Shah: We are always looking to do more purpose-led work -- projects for brands and organizations that have a clear sense of mission and values that audiences believe in deeply. If there’s an opportunity to demonstrate our connected muscle across creative, media, data and technology, even better. The Ad Council has been a great partner to us in seeking opportunities like this.
Holden: How have PSAs changed over time?
Shah: We are seeing more doing, less preaching. There are more modes of expression in play. I’m a big fan of the Love Has No Labels work, using experiential X-ray machines to demonstrate the universality of love. It’s a wonderful example of activating a belief vs. sermonizing. At Digitas, we did a "recipe ambush" for Charity Water on BuzzFeed Tasty where unsuspecting viewers found summertime recipes infiltrated with dirty water in its many forms to raise awareness of the global water plight. We welcome this bias towards doing vs. saying.
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