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Guerrilla campaign sees skeleton sleeping rough

April 15 2011
Skinny Steve is hard to ignore

A Southampton Solent University student has teamed up with a local homelessness charity to launch a guerrilla campaign to promote homelessness issues.

To raise awareness about the plight of rough sleepers, a plastic skeleton, wearing a beanie hat and sitting in a sleeping bag, has been popping up on the streets of Southampton.

The skeleton - nicknamed Skinny Steve - is the brainchild of 20-year-old media communications student Joe Miller.

When the Society of St James, the largest homelessness charity in Southampton, asked Miller to help promote their cause, he decided to turn to so-called ‘guerrilla’ marketing tactics, which work by grabbing people’s attention when they least expect it.

Miller explained: "The skeleton’s just got that shock element; you don’t expect to see it at all."

But behind the shock value of the stunt, there is a serious message. The plastic skeleton holds a sign saying "How long until you take notice?" and warns the public that, if homeless people are ignored, they will die.

Trevor Pickup, chief executive for the Society of St James, said: "This guerrilla advertising is a contemporary and exciting way of communicating with a new group of people, who we hope will support our work."

Media student Miller has taken to filming the public’s reaction and has reported that most people respond positively to the stunt.

The skeleton appeared in various spots around the city throughout March and Miller hopes that the campaign can be used in other towns in the future.

Whether you view Skinny Steve as a hard-hitting guerrilla campaign or a cheap stunt, his unexpected presence on the streets of Southampton has certainly turned heads.