Leo Burnett Goes Window Shopping

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Imagine yourself hustling through the mall trying to find those last minute holiday toys and trinkets, and the window display of your favorite department store is boasting a blowout sale on, that's right, children! Well, that's just what Leo Burnett, Johannesburg and The Salvation Army cooked up to inform shoppers of the horrors of human trafficking. The installation, currently displayed in leading South African malls and boutiques, features several children (between the ages of 4 and 13) of varying nationalities enclosed in a window display draped with "For Sale" signs. The sign also includes age brackets to imply a variety of price options. We spoke with art director Alan Marks and copywriter Nicole Solarsh of Leo Burnett, Johannesburg about the conception and execution of this provocative installation.

"Originally, we wanted to put people inside the meat section of supermarkets, but thought the connotations for that may be too below the belt," says Marks. "Then the idea came to us to sell children in fashion boutique windows. Just like that, it was the natural progression of the 'third idea' coming to play. By this I mean, you brainstorm one idea, the second one comes along and then the all important third idea springs up."

Marks and Solarsh seemed to have no problems setting up the entire installation within three weeks, including obtaining space and participants for the project. "We had to find a store that would accommodate us, and we did—in Nelson Mandela Square," says Solarsh "The shop, Cameroon, gladly gave up their entire store window to us. Obviously, working with kids is always hard, but we pulled some favors, and got kids we know to help with this important issue."

The children were asked to stand in the window display for 30-minute intervals—an impressive feat considering most of the kids were under the age of ten. The creatives are currently pursuing two other stores in different areas to help spread awareness. "We plan to run this campaign for as long as our client is open to it," says Marks. "The issue of human trafficking is an ongoing problem, and so wherever we can show this idea, the better, no matter where in the world. The great thing about the Salvation Army is that they are so open to 'out there,' punchy and provocative ideas that it has definitely made us think sharper, clearer and more creatively. As for what's next on the horizon, well, we hope the whole world sees this idea."

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