Eight victims of gun violence are memorialized in lifelike but faceless plaster statues in FCB Chicago's "The Unforgotten," a traveling public-service installation and media campaign.
Created for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, the campaign takes pains to imbue each statue with as much of each victim's personality as possible. (For example, family films and photographs were studied to determine the subjects' characteristic gestures and body language.) The figures, created by FCB art director Jordan Sparrow, are dressed in the victims' actual clothing. They wear sweatshirts, jeans, scarves and sneakers. Some carry backpacks. One figure slings a guitar because it was modeled on a young musician who was fatally shot while helping his band unload their gear. The statues' name tags work with a mobile app, allowing users to access videos about the victims' lives.
"This cause desperately needed an unusual approach," says FCB Chicago creative chief Todd Tilford, "something shocking to compel people to take action, while at the same time honoring the victims, and the families and friends of the victims. Not in a loud, screaming way, but in a powerful, silent way."
The initial exhibit was held April 10 at Chicago's St. James Cathedral Plaza, and Tilford says plans are underway for the installation to visit other cities in Illinois and possibly around the country.
The three-minute campaign video features interviews with family members and shows the statues posed in parks, on sidewalks and in bus shelters. The clip closes by asking viewers to "Help us get guns out of the wrong hands. Unforget the victims and sign our petition at The-Unforgotten.org." The campaign hashtag is #Unforgotten.
Mannequins have been effectively deployed in recent PSAs about the homeless and people with disabilities. The figures created for "The Unforgotten," while similar to mannequins, achieve a haunting, visceral presence owing to their level of personalization. The absent faces remind us that human beings lost their lives—clothing and artifacts are all that remain.
Tilford believes these surreal specters transcend blood-soaked category clichés, and refutes the idea that the approach might be a tad too abstract or esoteric.
"While the memorial statues were artistically designed, they went far beyond being 'artsy,' " he says. "How do we inspire real change? What if we could bring some of the victims back to tell their stories? That's what we did. We did something different."
Client: Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence
Agency: FCB Chicago
Chief Creative Officer: Todd Tilford
Group Creative Director: Chuck Rudnick
Art Director: Jordan Sparrow
Executive Creative Producer: John Bleeden
Creative Producer: Rachel Chapman
Film Director: Ben Flaherty
Account Supervisor: Ky Anderson
Group Management Director: Karyn Kerner
Senior Strategic Planner: Hayet Rida
Director Experience Planning: Katie Swindler
PR Agency: Current - Lifestyle Marketing and Public Relations
President: Virginia Devlin
Vice President: Alexis Valenti
Production Company: Lord + Thomas
Executive Producer: Katie Roach
Executive Producer: Jared Stachowitz
Senior Editor: Steve Immer
Copywriter: Anthony Williams
Group Creative Director: Derek Sherman
John Skibicki: Lead Developer
Experiential Agency: FCBX
Management Director: Marty Kane