Challenging millennials to end youth homelessness

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Virgin Mobile and Virgin Unite, the nonprofit arm of the Virgin Group, today are launching a new social media campaign to tackle youth homelessness. "Do Whatever It Takes," created by mono, Minneapolis, is challenging the digital generation to take action to solve this problem.

In the campaign, the Millennial generation will be asked to go to a microsite,, to pledge to take certain actions -- called "whatevers" -- if a specific amount of money is pledged. Some early postings include "I'll streak naked in Philly (on the stairs that were featured in the movie Rocky) if $5,000 is pledged" and "I'll eat 30 hamburgers in one sitting if $400 is pledged."

"There are 2 million youths who are homeless, and it hasn't captured the attention that it deserves," says Julie Vessel, account director at mono. "To us it was exciting to be the ones partnering with Virgin to shine the spotlight on this cause.

"The idea was really about making Millennials the hero and the voice for this cause," she adds. "They average 300 Facebook fans each. They could be the ones to drive this message and raise a lot of money to help this group. We wanted to take the things that Millennials do so great and the power that they have and leverage the power of their voice to make a real difference for this effort."

Participants will have 30 days to meet their goals, with "whatever" pledges being taken through mid-December. The challenge will end in mid-January. Virgin will highlight top "whatevers" through social channels and invite participants to share their pledges through their own networks.

"We've created this new campaign to allow two kinds of participation -- donations and stunts -- to allow people to get involved in ways that suit them best," said Felicia Hill, manager of viral campaigns and brand initiatives at Virgin Mobile USA, in announcing the effort. "The model is no different than pledging to participate in a charity marathon. It's just a lot less sweat. Our goal is to get thousands of pledges raising the profile for youth homelessness in a social manner."

The idea came about because mono wanted to set the campaign apart from all the cause efforts out there. "There all these great drives going on right now," says Larry Olson, creative director at mono. "How do we break through these things? By using habits they're already doing; it's baked into their lifestyle." Plus, he adds, "Let's make this fun so at the end of the day they'll have a smile on their faces."

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