Bleak twists on folk tales tell the modern-day stories of millions of hungry Americans in public service announcements that depart from tried-and-true fundraising pleas.
Feeding America, the largest U.S. hunger relief organization, says its "Stories of Hidden Hunger" campaign is meant to drive empathy for those who struggle to feed their families.
One of the PSAs is set to "There was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" being read by a child, and shows a mother coming home from her day working in a preschool classroom not having enough food for dinner. In another, seen above, lines from "Old Mother Hubbard" are heard as a working mom waters down milk for a kid dressed as a dog whose cupboard and fridge are nearly bare.
The storytelling, complimented by scenery that seems both washed out and realistic, is an attempt to tell human stories that statistics cannot.
"It's much more gritty and we wanted it to feel real because we wanted people to understand that they probably know a lot of people that are hungry and they just haven't realized that that's the case," says Feeding America Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Catherine Davis. "A lot of people actually blame the people who are hungry for being hungry," says Davis, who joined the organization in late 2016.
Rather than relying on statistics, such as data that about 41 million Americans don't know where their next meals will come from, folk tales lend a bit of familiarity but at the same time feel unfamiliar.
"There's a certain juxtaposition there," says Davis. "It seems like a compelling way to break through the clutter."
Near the end of each spot, the young voice declares a new tagline: "Hunger is a story we can end."
The PSAs come from McCann, which says hunger, like nursery rhymes people have heard since childhood, is "powerfully familiar but too easy to look past" and that "hunger is an issue that needs a harder look."
TV, radio, print and digital spots will run in tens of millions of dollars of donated time and space by media outlets through the Ad Council, which has partnered with Feeding America for a decade. Feeding America will also share the campaign on its own site and social channels.
"While the statistics around how many people experience hunger are staggering, they don't capture the powerful and emotional stories of those struggling," Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, said in a statement.
U.S. households with children have higher rates of food insecurity, or times of not having or being able to buy enough food for the entire family, than all U.S. households. And in homes with kids and single caregivers, the rates are even higher, according to 2016 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.