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

(August 2006) posted on Thu Aug 31, 2006

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

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By Kacey King

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.