New +Works Ad Campaign is Tough Stuff

Shows How Community Change is Possible, One Positive Voice at a Time

Vignettes Based on True Stories Give People “The Words” for Speaking Up in Difficult, Everyday Situations

Prominent Houston Director and Actors Participate as Professionals and Parents

AUGUST 18, 2014 — HOUSTON, TX — Houston grass roots, parent-driven, nonprofit +Works (pronounced Positive Works) today launched a provocative new public service announcement campaign themed, “Change comes one +Voice at a time.”  Directed by Houston filmmaker John Carrithers and cast by Alley Theatre company artist Chris Hutchison, the video advertising campaign was created by +Works co-founders and marketing professionals Sarah Fisher and Trish Morille to help people find the words and the courage to speak up in tough, everyday situations.  This release marks the latest innovative addition to the nonprofit’s +School Community program, an integrated effort that brings parents, educators, and community members together to get ahead of bullying and other trending issues that keep people up at night. The +Works Ad Campaign can be viewed in its entirety via +Works’ +Video YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/1po4rlm and on Vimeo: http://bit.ly/1ptlT85.

“This campaign is about the opportunity each of us has to create positive change on an everyday basis in our home, school, and community,” said Fisher, +Works CEO.  “We believe change is possible when a community’s expectation is that people of all ages will do their best to be upstanders and to speak up when necessary, especially when it’s difficult.  We sincerely believe that communities can change and evolve in a positive way, over time, one voice at a time.”

Campaign encourages people to find their +Voice, join the +Movement

Have you ever heard kids gossiping in your car?  Has someone ever trashed a good friend of yours in a group, at a party?  If so, did you speak up in a helpful way?  What would you tell your middle-school child to do if he or she heard a group of parents making negative comments about their school?  These everyday scenarios are at the center of the new +Works campaign. “These commercials are compelling because they’re based on true stories — the kind of situations people deal with in their everyday lives,” said Morille, +Works EVP.  “We want to show ways for people of all ages to stop gossip and other negative behaviors on the spot.  We’ve learned from experience that having the words is so important.  Simply knowing what to say can give us the courage we need to do something good in a bad situation.”

Creative professionals came to work with parent and community “hats”

John Carrithers and Delicia Harvey of Carrithers Studio, who directed and produced the campaign respectively, were drawn to the +Works campaign from a creative standpoint and as parents themselves.  “It really was a privilege for Delicia and me to work with +Works on these PSAs, not only because we were able to work with such a talented team, but especially since the messages that +Works is getting out to the community are extremely important to us as parents of a young boy about to enter the school system,” said Carrithers.

Carrithers and Harvey were one of two creative parent duos involved in the campaign.  Husband and wife Chris Hutchison and Elizabeth Bunch are both Alley Theatre company artists and have two young children.  Hutchison cast the actors for the campaign; Bunch plays the lead in one of the commercials. Both artists also served as acting coaches on set.

“These small, honest, slice-of-life moments don’t only point to a greater message that we can get behind, but they also provided actors with scenes that require taking some risks and truthfully portraying subtle transformation. As parents, it was amazing to be visiting potential kindergartens for our five-year-old and seeing +Works signs in several of the schools, and feeling great about what we were doing and what the schools were doing for our kids,” said Hutchison.

Three-ad campaign will build throughout the school year

The lead commercial in the campaign, called “+Car (Positive Car),” shows a mother calling her son out in front of his brother and friend for trash-talking an absent teammate after practice in her car.  She does so in a direct but upbeat manner, reassuring her son’s friend by saying, “We don’t talk about Jimmy when he’s not here to defend himself.  That’s not OK.  The good news is we’re not going to talk about you when you’re not here.  So you’re safe in our home and our car, whether you’re with us or not.”

The “Dinner Party” commercial deals with a stickier situation:  a group of upscale ladies gathering for dinner in a private home.  When one of the women begins gossiping harshly about a woman who is not present, others pile on while still others stand by, uncomfortable but unsure of what to do. Suddenly, one of the women chooses to speak up on behalf of her absent friend using a central +Works script, “This is not OK,” and succeeds in stopping the conversation without unnecessary drama.

In the third commercial, “+Bathroom (Positive Bathroom),” three mothers are called out for gossiping while touching up their makeup in a school bathroom. Four middle-school girls, unbeknownst to the mothers, are in the bathroom stalls as the mothers make disparaging comments about their school’s participation in a volleyball tournament.  “We took some creative license with this story,” said Fisher.  “This scenario really took place, but the girls didn’t speak up.  They went back to their coach, upset by what they’d heard the mothers say.  We decided to show what the girls could have done, which is to speak up respectfully by simply saying to the mothers, “This is not OK.”

The three one-minute videos were created to spark fresh conversations within current +School Communities and to attract new parents, educators, and community leaders to the program. Funding from the West U Rotary, which chose +Works as its annual golf tournament two years in a row, made it possible for +Works to produce this campaign, which will expand along with the +Works program throughout the 2014-15 school year. For more information, contact Sarah Fisher by email at aware@positivethinkingworks.org or visit www.positivethinkingworks.org.

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About +Works

In May 2010, long-time friends, moms of two, and award-winning marketing professionals Sarah Fisher and Trish Morille converted their ongoing family frustrations around the bullying issue into positive action within their homes and in the Houston community.  What began as a unique, integrated family and school program laser-focused on student bullying has evolved into a ground-breaking, upbeat, creative, hands-on, “roundtable” approach that is sparking fresh conversations around trending issues that keep adults — and kids — in our neighborhoods up at night, and around “who” school communities and organizations want to be.  +Works family, school, business, and nonprofit organization members agree:  if we want to raise vibrant, resilient, productive children, we have to get real, lock arms, and work together from home to homeroom, from home plate to the boardroom.  Fisher and Morille continue to spearhead this +Effort on a 100 per cent pro bono basis — with joy.  For more information, visit www.positivethinkingworks.org.