[Hpn] Homeless "Old White Guy"

Lucinda Houston lucy@efn.org
Fri, 17 Nov 2000 17:25:53 -0800

With me, when I arrived in Eugene, and to the Mission, it was my baby girl,
Laura.  She was 5 when we arrived and cute as a button.  I was asked if
pictures could be taken of her.  She was given the cutest little backpack
with a doll's head sticking out the back, then photographed for the Eugene
Mission Newsletter.  She was also filmed for a news clip, looking like
little Dorothy, for Blair Necessities, admiring the prettiest little black
sparkly, patent leather shoes with bows on them.
It was a message of use of providers services, and a message that money was
needed to keep operating.  Hey!  I should take a picture of modern Laura for
my own campaign.  (For human awareness, human rights, and evolution).
People would probably recognize her, at least subconsciously.

-----Original Message-----
From: HOBOMATT@aol.com <HOBOMATT@aol.com>
Date: Friday, November 17, 2000 12:47 PM
Subject: [Hpn] Homeless "Old White Guy"

>I pulled this off the list two years ago. Its that time again.......
>Matt Parkhouse,
>Colorado Springs, CO
>FWD  St. Petersburg Times, November 15, 1998
>Area social service agencies have adopted a tried-and-true
>marketing move to maximize donations for the homeless:
>"The Old White Guy.''
>By Adam C. Smith
>You may have seen him grizzled and hunched over a plate of food, tugging at
>your heart strings. He could be your uncle or father after a lifetime of
>bad choices.
>Thousands of Tampa Bay residents will see his photo this holiday season and
>open their checkbooks for local homeless programs. But you probably won't
>find this sad fellow at any area shelter.
>His photo, or one of another similarly down-on-his-luck senior, appears in
>dozens of newspapers from Florida to California. Advertising executives
>insist he is -- or once was -- an actual person in need, though they don't
>know offhand his name or whereabouts. He gets no royalties.
>And while rescue missions don't much like to talk about it, Mr. Anonymous
>is also part of a curious truism among service providers for the homeless:
>the Old White Guy sells.
>Put a picture of a Hispanic teen, a black senior, or any mother and child
>in a newspaper or direct mail piece, and people will give money. Use an old
>white man, and more people will give money, say advertising executives.
>"You test and you test and you test, and in the end you go with the guy who
>draws the most," said Tom Harrison, a senior vice president at Russ Reid
>Co., which provides an ad campaign to about 60 rescue missions across the
>"I was shocked because I would think a picture of a mother and child that's
>homeless and needs everything would draw the most, but it doesn't," said
>Harrison. "What works best is the stereotypical vision of what the homeless
>person is. People think of an older male alcoholic."
>The Tampa City Mission and St. Petersburg City Mission this year are using
>California-based Russ Reid to place newspaper ads featuring a wrinkled,
>white-haired man in a ball cap looking into a plate of food. The campaign
>last year helped the Tampa mission raise $227,000 and the St. Petersburg
>mission more than $350,000. Tampa's Metropolitan Ministries for the first
>time this year started placing a similar ad with a weathered man's photo
>supplied by another national firm.
>The Old White Guy marketing principle raises perplexing questions about
>human nature and compassion. It is also the source of great debate among
>service providers who know firsthand that the face of homelessness is in
>fact black and white, young and old, male and female.
>But the providers need every penny they can get to meet needs, and
>marketing pros keep reminding them that the elderly white man works best.
>"It's a big controversy, and there are groups of people in the industry
>that are starting to challenge that assumption," said Chasz Parker, the
>former assistant director of Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa and now the
>director of a large rescue mission in Syracuse, N.Y. "Everyone's told that
>the picture of the old white guy works best. Perhaps it reminds somebody of
>your dad, your uncle, your grandpa. Or perhaps it's just the most pathetic
>picture you can have. I just don't know the answer."
>A handful of national advertising companies specialize in donor campaigns
>for homeless programs. They analyze potential pitches with the same
>precision used for marketing toothpaste or soft drinks.
>"A picture of a woman alone does not do well. A woman with a child does a
>little better. But it's the older white man who's king," said Timothy
>Burgess of The Domain Group, a Seattle-based ad firm. He thinks it's
>because people associate him with urban rescue missions.
>Randy Brewer, vice president of Grizzard Advertising in Los Angeles, said
>focus groups found old black men second in effectiveness, though their
>facial details can be difficult to see in black and white newspaper ads.
>Least effective are young men, especially when pictured holding "Will Work
>for Food" signs.
>"The attitude of the responder is, "He can go get a job. He doesn't need my
>help,' " Brewer said.
>Giff Claiborne of the Los Angeles Rescue Mission has developed a national
>reputation marketing rescue missions, and he dismisses the theory that old
>white men always work best. Still, he acknowledged that most of the Los
>Angeles Mission's holiday pictures feature them.
>Countless variables come into play with an ad's effectiveness, Claiborne
>said. One of the most effective newspaper ads he ever saw happened to be
>positioned near a picture of Cher.
>"Maybe we should try to use Cher in our ads," he suggested.
>St. Petersburg's St. Vincent de Paul Society does not use a national
>advertising company, but places newspaper ads with a photo of a woman with
>a child digging in a trash bin. Executive Director Lola Walker said the
>people pictured were an ad agency employee and her daughter who had donated
>their services.
>For years, Metropolitan Ministries insisted that only photos of actual
>clients be used in its fund-raising pitches. This year, the 27-year-old
>ministry started supplementing its own photos with a newspaper campaign
>almost identical to the Tampa and St. Petersburg city missions.
>The ad notes it takes just $1.79 for a Thanksgiving dinner and pictures a
>bearded, well-worn face sipping from a foam cup. Ministry leaders don't
>know who the man is, but their advertising company, Grizzard Advertising,
>assures them he was a needy client somewhere.
>Curiously, the St. Petersburg and Tampa missions say their full
>Thanksgiving meals cost $1.57 -- 22 cents less than Metropolitan
>Ministries. It's not that one offers white meat, the other dark. The
>figures come from two different ad agencies, which say the calculations
>stem from surveys of dozens of rescue missions.
>The holiday-meal pitch is repeated across the country by non-profit groups,
>and it raises eyebrows among watchdogs.
>"It's a feel-good appeal because people like the idea that my single
>donation will let somebody have a turkey dinner," said Daniel Borochoff,
>president of the American Institute of Philanthropy. "They have these ads
>appear during the holiday time for the holiday meal, but when you look at
>it, most of the food is getting donated. Usually, that's not really what
>they need most of the money for. Most of the money is going for general
>program services throughout the year."
>The ads for Metropolitan Ministries and the Tampa and St. Petersburg
>missions focus on holiday meals, but also mention other services.
>For cash-strapped programs trying to serve the homeless, the trick is to
>pull in the most donations without blurring ethical lines. Many missions
>show a wide array of clients in their fund-raising pitches, even as the
>conventional marketing wisdom pushes the tried-and-true old man.
>"The question is, "Are we attempting to educate people or are we attempting
>to emote response and emotion that gets people to participate?' " asked
>Brewer of Grizzard. "These groups do not have a lot of money to spend on
>advertising, and it's important that they stretch their dollars."