Print Solutions for Toronto's 'Summer of the Gun'

How DDB Canada, Schawk Cactus, and other print providers worked to help to cut down gun crimes.

Last summer, the gun-violence rate in Toronto, Canada, skyrocketed to an all-time high. In what became known as "Summer of the Gun,"? gun violence was the cause of 52 of the city"?s 79 homicides, many of them gang-related.

To help deter gun crimes, the non-profit Crime Stoppers organization stepped up. Known across Canada as well as the US for offering rewards for anonymous tips, Crime Stoppers decided to offer as much as $500 for each illegal handgun that was reported to its tip line. "Our whole mandate was to get a gun off the street,"? says Lorne Simon, chairman of Toronto Crime Stoppers.

The organization sent out a call for advertising agencies across Canada to pitch their ideas for an ad campaign that could aid the cause, and DDB Canada won the right to be the agency of record, taking on the work pro bono. And so began "Cash For Guns"?"?a public-service cam"?paign that would involve various print providers and media companies (many of the participating companies would agree to be involved without fees), and comprise graphics for transit shelters and subway locations, as well as graphics for guerilla marketing, magazine ads, and even radio spots.

From mattress to subway
For the creative work, one of the first steps was garnering information from the Toronto police on where they most often find hidden illegal handguns. DDB then worked with photographer Frank Hoedl to produce three images consisting of over"?sized handguns hidden in the most likely places: one beneath a mattress, one in the trunk of a car, and one in a dumpster.

DDB Canada added the message to all three final images, "Your Tip Makes Them Easier to Find: If Call Turns Up a Handgun, Get Up To $500 Cash."?

Schawk Cactus, based in Don Mills, Ontario, then stepped in to produce the graphics for the transit-shelter and sub"?way locations. A 24/7 imaging facility in business for 15 years, the company provides print services for advertising and communication companies, retail chains, and a range of consumer-product companies.

After receiving the images from DDB, Schawk noted that "the images were rather dark and gloomy, as I"?m sure was the intent with the campaign,"? says Schawk"?s Michelle Ford. "So we wanted to make sure we had dark black"?a really rich true black."? To achieve the proper blackness and to maintain the sharpness of the guns, Schawk manipulated the images in Photoshop. "We did fidget with the files a little bit"?we wanted the guns to look really sharp,"? she says.

Schawk executed two rounds of proofing: The first round was an internal one, which included full-sized proofs on the actual media. "We have the ability to produce full-size proofs on media that can viewed here on our full-scale lightbox, so that projects can be viewed prior to production in the environment they will be viewed in the market,"? explains Ford. The next round comprised full-sized, finished proofs back out to DDB on both substrates"?these were delivered to DDB the day after receiving the job, says Ford.

Once DDB gave the thumbs up on the proofs, the final output began. For the 75 backlit transit-shelter graphics, each measuring 47.25-in. wide x 68.25-in. high, Schawk used its VUTEk PressVu 200/600 UV flatbed printer. It imaged onto Opaline blueback material, then die cut the images using its Zund 126 x 118-in. flatbed cutter. For the 75 subway graphics, Schawk again used its PressVu, but this time imaged directly onto Coroplast. These were also die cut on the Zund. In all, says Ford, they had the job in-house for a week.

Out-of-home media companies includ"?ing Pattison Outdoor Advertising, Viacom Outdoor Canada, Eucan Canada, and Zoom Media donated the space on transit shelters, trash receptacles, and in subways in targeted areas. These companies also did the installs.

Guerilla time
In addition, the Cash For Guns campaign included some guerilla marketing, thanks to wild postings installed city-wide by Toronto-based Grassroots Advertising.

"We donated a four-week campaign to support the other campaigns they were going to be running,"? says Greg Scott of Grassroots. "I guess they wanted the wild-posting element because we really are an urban, downtown core medium, and they wanted to target specific areas of the city. They felt our locations and type of product best got into some of those areas where there may be an abundance of guns, or information about guns,"? he adds.

Grassroots seeks out new construc"?tion developments"?whether it be an office building going up or a storefront renovation"?and posts some advertising posters on it as soon as the fencing or wood goes up to "protect"? the construction site. "If we didn"?t put advertising on it, everybody would put posters or fliers or brochures of some kind on the surface to promote their own stuff. We, in turn, put up larger posters promoting commercial services and national clients,"? says Scott. The company"?s national clients include General Motors, Nike, and Coca-Cola.

The company posted between 180 and 200 posters in 15 locations in the first week, and 1325 throughout the entire four-week period. "We keep a reserve of posters back so that if there"?s rain, wind, or people tear the posters, we re-post with a new poster to make sure the message or look of the campaign is consistent throughout the four weeks,"? says Scott.

Posters for the wild postings part of the campaign were generated by Parker Pad & Printing out of Markham, ON, with donated labor. The company produced 12.5 x 18-in. posters using its Kodak NexPress high-speed digital printer and 100-lb Euroart Gloss media. It also used lithography"?a Heidelberg 29-in. CD"?to print 20 x 28-in. posters on the same media.

Getting the guns
The Cash for Guns campaign included two additional segments as well. A magazine-ad campaign, featuring the same images, ran the first month in Toronto"?s free weekly entertainment newspapers. Plus, radio spots, created and produced by DDB Canada, ran repeatedly on donated ad space on Toronto radio stations with a young, urban demographic.

The end result of this multi-pronged project: During the campaign"?s three-month run, the Toronto Crime Stoppers tip line received 165 tips from callers, resulting in 21 hand guns being seized.

"If we got one gun off the streets, the campaign was successful,"? says Crime Stoppers"? Lorne Simon. "Our chief of police was very proud of the campaign. It did help."?



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