For the second year in a row, Simon asked us to devise a three-week advocacy campaign. The 2018 campaign had two clear objectives: to gather 10,000 signatures for a petition calling for the Irish government to make affordable housing a priority; and to remind people that, while some of our elected officials may try to pass Ireland’s homeless figures off as a statistical norm, it must never be treated as normal by the wider society.
The challenge in running an advocacy campaign is that it’s harder to interrupt people from the myriad distractions of the digital world; there’s only brief window to communicate complex social issues. So, instead of a digital campaign that saturates people with information they have no interest in, we proposed a Facebook-led approach, whereby individuals who had previously expressed an interest in homelessness could add their name to the petition.
As we did last year, we worked with filmmaker Nick Kelly and producer Lorraine Geoghegan to create a short film that supported the message of the campaign. Unlike Simon’s 2017 campaign film (see below) which used the voices of real homeless people to describe the reality of a day in their lives, this year’s film turned the attention to our own attitude towards homelessness. With the help of Jennifer Zamparelly and Panti Bliss, we demonstrated how it’s easy to be complacent about homelessness – while stressing that we must never allow that to happen.
Rather than host the film on each of Simon’s regional Facebook pages, we posted lead-generation ads which were targeted to six different regions across Ireland. The ads were geo-targeted to specific age groups and interests. Once an individual signed the petition, they began an email journey (via MailChimp) that spoke of the homelessness issue and Simon’s approach to solving it. Individuals were asked to take further actions (such as sharing the campaign, contacting the government directly on Twitter and liking the Simon Community’s regional Facebook pages) to deepen their involvement in the cause.