Everybody had fun–and perhaps got mildly indignant–playing with Microsoft’s How-Old.net software last week. But one Canadian youth homeless shelter saw the cultural moment it created as an opportunity to draw attention to its important cause. Toronto’s Covenant House, with the help of creative agency Taxi, seized the moment to make a cogent, sobering point: Being on the streets is a rough life that ages a person.
Covenant House Toronto, which is one of a number of youth shelters under the Covenant House banner in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Central America, created a web ad featuring a 22-year-old homeless man named Cale, who talks about how he ended up on the street in text beneath the artwork–a screen shot from How-Old.net that reads Cale’s face as that of a 43 year old. “Nothing steals youth like the street,” it reads under the photo of the bearded young man. As ways to tap into social media trends to bring attention to a larger, very important cause go, Covenant House nailed it.