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NYPD and BBDO Try Mannequins Instead of Milk Cartons to Find Missing Boy

Agency and Police Put Face of Missing Boy on Manhattan Store Mannequin

By Published on .

BBDO and the NYPD are working together to locate missing persons.
BBDO and the NYPD are working together to locate missing persons. Credit: BBDO New York

The New York Police Department and BBDO New York are taking the search for missing persons beyond the milk carton. In a project called "Invisible Faces," the face of a boy who disappeared six years ago will now appear on a store window mannequin in an effort to reinvigorate the search and possibly lead to his return. BBDO created the concept, and worked with the NYPD to execute it.

Seven-year-old Patrick Alford Jr. went missing from his foster home in 2010; his face, aged to 13 years old, has been sculpted onto a mannequin in the store window of jacket brand K-Way, which has a store located in SoHo, one of Manhattan's most well-trafficked shopping neighborhoods. The mannequin is clothed in a similar red t-shirt to the one Patrick was wearing when he disappeared.

"Increasing public awareness is the key to generating leads," said Lt. Christopher Zimmerman, commanding officer of the NYPD's Missing Persons Squad, in a statement. "The more people are aware, the better our chance to be successful."

If any passersby or store visitors recognize Patrick's likeness, they are encouraged to use an in-store iPad to learn more. The agency has also put together the website www.invisiblefaces.info and the hashtag #bringPatrickhome to spread the word. Brooklyn-based studio Standard Transmission, which focuses on mannequin design, and sculptor Michael Evert, created the model of Patrick.

The store window will remain up until the middle of May; the project may be continued with other retailers if they express interest in participating.

"This is our 'moon shot' at taking a more innovative approach to partnership and tackling the toughest problems," said John Osborn, president and CEO of BBDO New York, in a statement, noting that "marketing works best when it helps solve the seemingly unsolvable."

BBDO has worked with the police department before. In 2015, the agency worked on a communications platform for the Crimestoppers van.

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