In September 1980, the Dead Kennedys released Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, an album that opened with a catchy little number called “Kill the Poor.” The song suggests getting rid of the less fortunate, along with their tired whining and financial drag on the state, to make a larger statement about how society treats its most disadvantaged citizens.
Now U.K. charity The Pilion Trust is using a similar tactic to encourage people to help. A man stands on busy London streets wearing a sign that says, “Fuck the Poor” and plenty of people stop to berate him and explain why his demonstration is unacceptable. And yet when he changes the sign to “Help the Poor,” passersby barely blink an eye.
Publicis executive creative director Andy Bird says The Pilion Trust approached the agency for help after government cutbacks have seen its funding down by 60% and donations from the public down 20%. The charity needed a way of asking for money without having any money for paid media, so they needed something that would get people’s attention.
“The idea was based on an observation–we noticed that despite feeling for the homeless we only occasionally stopped to give money,” says Bird. “That awful feeling after you’ve walked past either someone collecting for charity or a homeless person–it felt like something we could work with. We all know what the right thing to do is, but how often do we actually do it?”