United Way of Greenville County: Tommy

I can’t hire a homeless diabetic. Get out of here.
United way is like a barrier. It keeps bad things away from good people. Like Tommy. When he was homeless and sick, all he got was rejection. But then he found United Way. Today he's healthy and a chef at one of the finest restaurants in Greenville County. Your gift could help someone just like him.
Because it happens here, it matters here.

Advertising Agency: Erwin-Penland, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Creative Director: Andy Mendelsohn
Art Director: Jeremy Tufts
Copywriter: Aaron Johnston
Photographer: Kevin Banna
Published: June 2007


Joseph Campbell's picture
Joseph Campbell
230 pencils

You know, I kind of liked these for a second. But I'm getting hung up on the use of the DO NOT CROSS tape. In my mind, that does not communicated protection, or even blocking. When I think of police tape, I think of something on the other side that is disturbing. Slaughtered bodies. Burnt corpses. This makes it almost seem like the people on the right side of the tape are some sort of curiosity to be looked at from afar.

Nice art direction, though.


I've decided I should get my freak off.


I've decided I hate signatures.

ivan's picture

Do not cross does look like a crime scene to me as well. But, I think overall the campaign works. It will probably generate money.

Ivan Raszl, admin of AotW

p.syche's picture
267 pencils

I think you're right about the burnt corpses and slaughtered bodies. And they do appear in my mind to.
Except they appear on the left side of the ad.
The "bad guys" who say mean things to poor people are on the "bad side" of the tape. THEY are isolated from others and THEY are surrounded by the tape so they won't be able to reach the good people (like Tommy here).

That's how I initially understood these ads and I think they work really well.

Joseph Campbell's picture
Joseph Campbell
230 pencils

Excellent point. I suppose that if the man were placed on the left and the headline on the right, I wouldn't have gotten hung up on it initially. But since I read from left to right, I could only think about the man being roped off, not the words.


I've decided I have attained a certain level of spiritual conformity.


I've decided I hate signatures.

crow's picture
30 pencils

It all feels pretty flat to me. The production value is good, but not much of an idea in my opinion. That United Way stuff from last year where the hand in the United Way logo prevents things in various ads was incredible (ie. hand from logo covering lid of alcohol bottle next to a drunk). So the bar is pretty high to me, Just seems like it could have been more for such a fertile pro bono topic. Not horrible or anything. Just average to below average in my opinion.

copywriter.txt's picture
828 pencils

Ok, Joseph, you have a point.
But the Joe Consumer doesn't make all this analysis when in front of an ad.
So, this works* with the target in my opinion.

* Tell the message. I'm not talking about efficiency.

Joseph Campbell's picture
Joseph Campbell
230 pencils

Yeah, you're right. I started to think that after I posted. I figured if I got it in a few seconds, so would Jane Consumer, and that would be enough. Not stellar work, but it works. I tend to overanalyze a lot of things.


I've decided I want paper and plastic.


I've decided I hate signatures.

Blahg's picture
616 pencils

A further consideration would be that if you fail to act on this ad the person featured in the ad could become a corpse, without assistance. I think it's a strong message personally.

Jet Propulsion Lab's picture
Jet Propulsion Lab
10681 pencils

I don't think Joseph is being overanalytical at all. It's just an instant gut reaction. It's not an analysis. It's a logical, rational train of thought that happens in a flash. There was even a book written about it. Tells you how the average reader/viewer draws his own conclusion in a first couple of seconds he sees the ad. If the consensus is that he doesn't bother to read the copy in an ad, then the initial take-away would be anything but positive.
I just don't think the device used here is right. If the "police line" is to communicate a barrier or a shield against the negative forces, why didn't they just use the United Way "hand" like many others, so there's a unified look to their overall communication? I think there was a good reason they didn't (or couldn't) use it.
For all intents and purposes, this is an ad with a good message, but their very intention could be misconstrued due to the use of the wrong gimmick.

Ad Junkie At Large's picture
Ad Junkie At Large
554 pencils

great insight Jet, and i agree with you, it's not overanalytical, you can't just asume that the consumer won't analyse your work, especially in the age of the cynical prosumer.

What was the name of that book? I'd love to read it.

braindrain's picture
240 pencils

It feels a little clunky to me. It's a simple message, but somehow the art direction & copy make it more complicated than it should be.

bknowlden's picture
3647 pencils

The photography is stunning.

mrtalented's picture
2173 pencils

same layout 5 times

bogdan_vtl's picture
6 pencils

very good photography!

pixelbomb1's picture
2555 pencils

now tommy owns a clothing line, record label, and strip bars with some of the finest babes. way to go tommy. can i be on the guest list?

Arnold Santillan

quinton_sential's picture
64 pencils

great photography

tantrik_indian's picture
953 pencils

Good copy.
~~be cool eh!~~

~~this paranoid survived!~~

laylowmoe's picture
328 pencils

Yow. Talk about lazy. Germ of a good idea - "United Way is like a barrier" - could've turned it into something great if they'd pushed it far enough. This, is inexcusably negligent.

intovisual's picture
24 pencils

Boy, Greenville County sounds like a swell place.

jamoca man's picture
jamoca man

"United Way is like a barrier" - Did anybody see the incredible United Way work from last year - One Show etc. where they used the United Way hand to block people from doing certain things. That was a great concept and great advertising. This seems like it's trying to take that same idea but unfortunately execute it poorly.

Marlus Lau's picture
Marlus Lau
1808 pencils

Interesting series.

SlimRich's picture
81 pencils

poor copy direction killed this.

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