Grand LIA   |   Winners   |   Finalists

Innovative Use of Design


Entrant: The Cyranos McCann, Barcelona

Homeless Fonts
"Homeless Fonts"

    Click a thumbnail to change media.

Corporate Name of Client: Fundacio Arrels
Agency Account Director: Marta Grasa
Account Executive: Laia Gilibets
Planning Director: Oriol Bombí
Agency: The Cyranos McCann, Barcelona
Creative President: Leandro Raposo
Executive Creative Director: Pablo Colonnese
Creative Directors: David Fernández/Joaquín Espagnol
Copywriters: Marc Sánchez/Jaume Rufach/Nil Murtra
Art Directors: Oscar Amodia/Eduard Cubel/Alejandro García
Production Managers: Alba Riart (The Cyranos McCann)/
    Joana Filella (Oxígeno)
Executive Producer : Olga Duerto
Director of Photography: Iñigo Zubikaray
Director: Javier Navarro
Production Company: Oxígeno, Barcelona

Concept/Cultural Reference:
The Arrels Foundation is devoted to assisting the homeless. With the crisis over the last few years, there has been a drastic reduction in its budget and an increase in its workload.
The problem of the homeless seems to become harder to see in the glare of more urgent, high-profile issues covered by the mass media (natural disasters, starvation, etc.). It is also true that the meagre aid received by the homeless is not generally channelled by organisations, but consists of small-scale support given on an individual basis, which does not really help solve the problem.
In addressing this situation, we discovered a new way of obtaining help without begging for it:
Commercial brands use typefaces or fonts in their advertising and packaging, and they pay for the privilege.
The idea was to take the handwriting the homeless use to write their cardboard signs for begging in the street and to turn it into different fonts that could be sold online, for brands to use in their communications.
This way, instead of providing them with aid sporadically, we created a self-sustaining, long-term project, to help the Arrels Foundation to raise funds and to help make over the life of each author of a font. A new category of Corporate Social Responsibility and, at the same time, a new way for brands to help.
Quite apart from the funds raised, we helped many people regain their self-esteem and their lives.
The last few years of economic crisis have brought non-governmental organisations a significant loss of income. Government aid has been drastically cut and ordinary people have less and less spare money to help their neighbour. And in the case of the Arrels Foundation, the problem has mushroomed. As this foundation is devoted to helping people who have nowhere to live, not only has its available budget shrunk, but there has been a constant rise in the number of people requiring help.
In the face of this situation, NGOs which help the homeless require larger numbers of volunteers, more injections of cash and a heightened focus on the problem in order to raise society’s awareness of it. Which is not easy to achieve with an advertising campaign.
Our goal was to find a way of helping the Arrels Foundation to boost its resources. To find an alternative to the traditional way, since Spanish society has little to spare at the moment.
In a world saturated with NGO campaigns asking for help and support, our strategy was to offer something in this case, instead of asking for it:
We created a new brand of typefaces, made from the handwriting the homeless use to beg for help in the street with their cardboard signs. Homelessfonts. These fonts were put on sale on the Foundation’s website and on other font download sites. And we created an advertising campaign for the new brand, to raise awareness amongst designers, as well as advertising and marketing people.
We produced a brand seal so that the companies that used our fonts could convey the fact at the same time, providing space for a new category of Corporate Social Responsibility.
We created the typefaces in a workshop, turning the occasion into a documented event.
We gathered the Homeless there and asked them to provide us with comprehensive samples of their handwriting.
Then we digitalised it, turning each person’s handwriting into a font for installing on a computer.
We set up a website called associated with the Arrels Foundation, which offered the fonts for sale.
Special direct marketing actions targeted creative directors and art directors at different agencies to present the idea on handwritten cardboard signs produced by the homeless.
We launched the video case from the festival on the social media and shared it with television networks to spread the idea.
This project was successful thanks to the help and collaboration of designers, production companies, design academies and typeface specialists.
The foundation has increased its income by 37%.
More than 200,000 people have visited the website so far with more than 30,000 downloads.
More than 100.000 euros of earned media in design communication and general media.
With each sale, we achieve what would have taken a great deal of effort with a traditional fundraising campaign.