I don’t really notice ads much anymore. I have extensions installed in my browser that help block ads from ever being loaded onto a page. While I’m out and about, I tend not to give ads on billboards or on the sides of vehicles too much attention. A lot of times, it’s just noise – photoshopped models and glamorous promises of thicker hair, flashy cars and fresher breath.

It’s while riding the subway that I’m most likely to notice ads. This is because of the level of awareness that is required as a subway rider here in Toronto, especially at rush hour. Platforms and subway cars are often crowded so you need to be fully aware of your surroundings to make sure you manage to finagle your way onto a car.

WoodGreen Ad Campaign

Click to enlarge

It was during my commutes the last few months that I noticed the faux tabloid posters like the one shown here.

At first glance, it looks like the cover of People or In Touch or any one of the countless magazines you find near the checkout at the grocery store. But with each second your eyes spend on the poster, you come to slowly see that it’s not just another entertainment magazine. The model isn’t anywhere near as glamorous as most Hollywood cover girls. These women look real; like the women you’re likely to see standing next to you on the subway platform.

The text of the ads is laid out and positioned in much the same way that tabloid magazines have their eye-catching headlines. “EXCLUSIVE: I can’t afford breakfast.” And, “25 Things She Can’t Afford.”

To me, the tagline of the ads is absolutely perfect: What if we cared about those living in poverty as much as we care about celebrities?

These ads are smart, well executed and well placed. Even if you have a book or tablet to read while commuting, you have to look up at some point while in the subway station. If you haven’t seen one of these ads in the last few months, I’d like to know what your ad-avoidance secret is.

While searching for more information about the campaign for this post, I discovered that a video done in the style of “Access Hollywood” was also created. Watching this video, I can’t help but feel a little silly for those times I stayed tuned to watch a frivolous segment on the entertainment industry.

It was also in my searches that I learned that the women featured in the ad campaign are real benefactors of the Homeward Bound program at WoodGreen Community Services. You can learn more about them and how the program has helped change their lives on the WoodGreen site.

It’s very easy to dismiss advertising amidst the constant bombardment of messages aimed at getting us to buy more things we don’t need. I have to applaud WoodGreen Community Services for having the insight and the commitment to putting out an ad that both speaks volumes and keeps people’s attention.

I know I’m a little late with my commentary, but to see the success that this campaign had really gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll be a little more willing to be aware of what matters and not what’s shiniest.