Created for the charity Business In The Community, this campaign aims to raise awareness of the negative preconceptions that exist around ex-offenders when they re-enter the workplace. It also encourages audiences to sign a petition to have the mandatory check box asking about criminal convictions removed from job applications.
“Even people who consider themselves open-minded often have a twinge of concern when they hear that someone has been in prison,” says Hugh Todd, creative director at Leo Burnett. “The brief was to try and change this behaviour. Or, at the least, challenge it.”
The ad features a clever subversion of the ‘skip ad’ function that appears on many films online. It features an ex-offender talking about his search for a job, and the skip ad button appears not long after he starts talking. When clicked, the film remains with the man but he is now slightly upset. If the viewer continues to press the skip ad button, he increasingly loses confidence, before the ad ends by pointing out how easy it is to ‘skip’ over ex-offenders.
“The skip ad idea jumped out at me as soon as I heard about it,” says Fay Coldman, communications manager at BITC. “They’d completely hit the nail on the head…. We were really pleased that Leo Burnett hit upon something that gave our audience a simple, practical ask. Also, importantly, it still pulled at their heartstrings by reminding viewers that this is about the lives of real individuals with aspirations to change.”
While the idea is simple in principle, the team ran across problems when getting some of the most significant websites to feature an ad that played around with the skip ad function. “When you’re doing something that hasn’t been done before, you meet a lot of challenges,” says Todd. “We spoke to YouTube and Google to try and make it work. In the end we worked with the Guardian, who together with Holler made it happen.”