Blog Post 4: It’s not just a data game.

– Written By Maria Yanovsky 2016
One of six posters pasted up around London (Publicis London 2015)


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives. Nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.’ We believe that change has become the defining characteristic of today’s business environment. And that the brands that thrive are those best adapted to manage, capture and leverage change in the world around them.” – Publics London 2016

What happens when quantifiable data lacks effective emotive resonance when creating evocative social change campaigns? Or more importantly, how within the design world, is vast amounts of recorded statistics reformed into a solid creative, emotionally driven outcome. Emergent practices can be the facilitators of such transitions towards  creative social innovation. This appears to be the “hot” trend within design studious exploring and tackling issues such as homelessness. To put it simply, it’s no longer just a numbers game, with more and more studios using design thinking to create evocative campaigns that in a sense quantify data through empathetic means.
Publicis London is a small creative agency  part of a larger, global Publicis umbrella. The agency aims to create unique, irreplaceable and thought provoking ideas within the hands of their clients to “Lead the Change”-Publicis 2016. Teamed up with charity organisation Depaul (UK), Publicis London participated on a number of Service design projects, name-ably “Corner” a 2015 campaign aimed at increasing the number of Volunteers within a Depaul program called Nightstop. 

Stigma within and around the Homeless community (weather it be in Sydney or around the world), is a recurring theme for my research. Many evocative design strategies (that are not architectural) aim at changing lingering social Stigmas. In a previous post I mentioned that one of the largest road blocks to Social Change in regards to the Homeless is worryingly consistent social exclusion. With each campaign undertaken by Publicis London in Partnership with Depaul, the studio  attempts to create a suitcase of service design collateral that breaks social barriers.
Publicis London use strategic devices to trigger an emotional connection to the familiarity of the thought patterns expressed within the posters. “Corners” is a cleverly written campaign that tells “two sides of the story”. The Nightstop program is a volunteer lead initiative that provides spare beds for homeless youth between the ages of 16-25. “Corner, is a Gureilla Marketing campaign”- Publicis 2016 that fuses the materiality of street art (in particular paste up practice) and marketing. The campaign aims to increase the number of volunteers for this program through the reflection of perception. Pasted up on corners of buildings where they say “youth are most commonly found”-Publicis London 2016,  the body copy is split (the left side, when read alone only demonstrating the negative perception towards homeless young people, but once read together in full the message “transforms to show the benefits of becoming a volunteer”- (Publicis 2016) Depaul have an extensive amount of data that Publicis could draw from, statistics relate to the percentages of where this age bracket can be found. It can not be said for sure, however it would appear that Publicis would have had to conduct design related ethnography to get the source material required to write a the copy as to ideas people have about giving up a spare room in their house to homeless youth. The expressive campaign, is also poetic, conveying the feeling of seeing these homeless kids when rounding the corner of a building. Expressing this kind of empathy, Publicis Design would have had to have conducted extensive research not only on the data mine provided by their client, but they would have had to have also done ethnographic exercises to extract an emotive understanding from their audience. 

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Publicis London aim was to raise awareness and generate more volunteers through service design. Done through intelligent copy writing, guerrilla advertising tactics, and poetic design Depaul UK has stated that “The campaign appeared live on BBC TV News, national radio and over 70 blogs – reaching 6 million people. On a £0 media spend (all sites were donated), total earned media value was £1,589,857.Most importantly the total number of new volunteer enquiries increased by 6100% on the previous month. If all enquirers become volunteers, subject to vetting, it would be equivalent to increasing Nightstop’s London capacity by 50% – helping many young people turn a corner for real.”-Publicis London 2016.

Service design, truely demonstrates that social change comes not only through data examination and exploration but through the evocative nature of understanding the ethnography of the target audience.

Depaul 2016, Depaul, Homeless has no Place, England and Wales, viewed August 2016, <;.


Design you trust 2016, The Trick Copy On These Clever Ads Shows Another Side To Homelessness, viewed August 2016, <;.

FastCoCreate 2016, his Street Corner Campaign Shows Two Sides to Homelessness, Publicis London, viewed August 2016, <;.

Hohenadel, K. 2015, A Two-Sided Word Puzzle on London Streets Takes on Homeless Stereotypes, viewed August 2016, <;.

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