Hill Holliday Launches Work for National Overdose Day

While most of us can relate to some level of addiction, be it sugar, caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol, we can’t fathom what it’s like to be homeless.

That was the case for the team at Hill Holliday too, until they started working on a campaign for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program’s latest innovation. SPOT (Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment) is a first-of-its kind medical drop-in-center that provides life-saving interventions to members of the homeless community at risk of overdosing.

SPOT provides a safe, non-judgmental place where people can receive medical monitoring, harm reduction support, and access recovery services. Since opening in 2016, it has exceeded all expectations. What started as a simple conference room turned into a 12-chair triage center, and has logged over 8,000 visits so far, with 1 in 5 of its participants moving onto addiction treatment.

The target audience was Boston’s “millennial mobilizers”— who pride themselves on pushing important issues into the social media spotlight. We had to drive them to donate — and to ask others to find the compassion to do the same.

Not your typical assignment, but a genuine opportunity to actually make a measurable difference in the lives of others, a rare occasion in the life of an agency creative. Turns out, our lives were the ones that would never be the same.

When folks from the agency began meeting some of the SPOT participants, the campaign revealed itself: Boston’s Underdogs. No one expected these people to live, let alone come back from the brink of hopeless addiction to participate meaningfully in the world. And everyone in Boston, sports fan or not, could relate to the idea of being the predicted loser.

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