Big Issue turns to the big screen

The Big Issue Foundation is to use cinema ads for the first time in an attempt to rekindle public interest in homelessness.

The ads, part of the foundation's largest awareness campaign for two years, will be screened in independent cinemas across the UK from the end of January.

The cinema ads were created by agency TBWA/London and attempt to challenge the popular perception that homeless people are on the streets to make money. Entitled "How to Rip Off The British Public", the ads show the various routes to a life on the streets including depression, mental illness, abuse and alcoholism.

David Peet, interim chief executive at The Big Issue Foundation, said that the hard-hitting nature of the campaign is designed to challenge the public's increasing apathy towards homelessness. "Support for our vendors is decreasing and people seem to be losing interest in the homelessness problem," he said. "This campaign is intentionally confrontational and really tries to force people to reassess their beliefs and perceptions about people living on the streets.

"By using challenging imagery and vocabulary, we're hoping to spark a debate and raise the profile of the Big Issue Foundation as an organisation that isn't afraid of raising a few eyebrows to get its work done."

The ad is also designed to raise awareness of the foundation and its charitable services, and includes information about its work throughout the UK.

The cinema ads form part of the organisation's "Think Bigger" campaign and will be accompanied by a series of press ads in consumer and youth magazine titles including GQ, Loaded, and Dazed & Confused. They will also appear in The Big Issue magazine throughout December, supported by editorial encouraging readers to think more about the issues surrounding homelessness.

The Think Bigger campaign is also the first time that the foundation has launched a campaign directing people to a central web site. All campaign literature will point people towards a specially designed web address, www., that links people through to the foundation's information and donations page.

"I think this campaign has a lot of potential to really make people think differently about their views of homelessness," said Peet. "We felt it was important for the campaign to have a separate identity, so that people could associate directly with the 'Think Bigger' message."

Peet will step down next week when Annie Turner starts work as the new chief executive on 9 December. He will return to his post of managing the charity's operations in East Anglia.

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