Depaul shines a light on homelessness through Big Brother style auditions

The campaign from Publicis Poke brings to life the realities of homelessness amongst young people

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


Following the success of ITV’s re-launch of Big Brother, homeless charity Depaul has launched a new campaign that plays on the idea of ‘house auditions’. A creative concept designed’ to shine a light on homelessness amongst young people in the UK.

The campaign has been created with the help of Publicis Poke and has been designed to bring attention to Depaul’s Nightstop service which is in place across the UK and sees volunteers help to provide emergency overnight accommodation for young people who are facing a night on the streets or sleeping in an unsafe place.

Playing on the tropes of the popular reality TV show, the organisation has worked with director Margot Bowman and Merman to create two ‘audition tapes’ which feature two young people auditioning for a place ‘in the house’.

The two audition films show two young people explain why they would make a good housemate yet as the films play out it becomes clear that these young people aren’t seeking a place on a reality show, they are instead looking for a real place to stay. As the pair talk about the good qualities they can bring, the camera pans out to show their current environments of a run-down house or tent showing the harrowing situations the young people are facing. The films juxtapose the happy, frivolous nature of applying to reality TV with the very real, difficult situation thousands of young people are finding themselves in with a dire need for a safe place to live.

The issue of homelessness is particularly important in winter months, where the days are shorter and the nights are colder so it is even more dangerous to be outside and without safe housing. Depaul research shows that currently, more than 129,000 young people are dealing with homelessness, but due to the hidden nature of this issue, the true number is thought to be much higher.

The campaign is running at the same time as the charity's winter appeal featuring Nightstop and so at the end of each audition tapes, audiences are directed toward Nightstop, Depaul UK’s flagship mission that asks volunteers to open their homes to young people who need a safe place to stay for the night. Nightstop began in 1987, and currently operates through different communities and charities in more than 23 locations across the UK. In 2022, 621 young people were provided with safe accommodation across the network, with 7,522 safe nights accounted for young people off the streets.

“Winter is a key time for tackling homelessness, and we are currently seeing huge numbers of young people who don’t have access to a safe place to sleep for the night. We want to raise awareness of this and encourage those who can open their hearts and their homes through our Nightstop programme – helping to provide safe accommodation for those most vulnerable at this time of year.” says Kristina Hedderly-Perez, Executive Director of Fundraising & Communications at Depaul UK.

The campaign was created by creative agency Publicis Poke and Production company Merman Brande. Media agency Zenith has driven media planning and buying.

While the festive period is a time of joy and togetherness for many, Depual’s Nightstop programme is a reminder of the importance of community and togetherness. Where the campaign aims to raise awareness of young people aged between 18-24 facing homelessness this winter, reality TV acts as the perfect launch pad for this message.