Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County

Face The Housing Crisis™

This campaign was always about addressing a crisis, but it had to start with changing people’s minds

Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County came to us with a question and a dream: “How do we best raise awareness about the housing crisis and make the biggest impact possible?”

What We Did

Creative, Digital, Media, Social, Public Relations

How It Mattered

Habitat Orlando & Osceola’s award-winning campaign raised awareness about the organization’s mission to bring the community together to address the housing crisis.

The housing crisis doesn’t have an awareness problem. It has a perception problem.

Like every project we work on, we started by listening. Through in-depth research and interviews, we uncovered an important story that needed to be told. The driving strategy and key message for the campaign started with a simple truth: the face of the housing crisis isn’t who you think it is. Everyone knows there is a serious housing crisis in the U.S., but most people have their own idea of the people who are affected. The truth is the people you’d least expect struggle to afford safe housing.

That’s where our campaign came in. Habitat Orlando & Osceola helps some of the hardest workers in our communities get out of unsafe, unstable rental housing and into their own homes—with their own mortgages. People who our communities can’t afford to lose.

Strong campaigns have strong insights.

Insights are those little nuggets of human truth that connect to the brand’s greater purpose. We pay attention to what’s going on in the world culturally because this creates insights that wouldn’t exist otherwise. In this instance, the phrase “essential workers” wouldn’t have existed or been a driving factor in this campaign had it launched before 2020. It’s a phrase with great emotional connection that was a product of the COVID-19 pandemic.

9 out of 10 single-wage earners making the median wage in the healthcare, hospitality, and education sectors can’t afford the median-priced, entry-level house.

We spent all of COVID thanking essential workers. People still hold a deep emotional affinity for them, feeling the need to return the favor.

The thinking behind the creative

The award-winning copywriting for the campaign was written with profound intention, creating visually balanced headlines that stopped you in your tracks with honesty. The language isn’t flowery, but rather direct, compelling the reader to understand the story without any distractions. It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s the kind of language that sticks in your brain.

Read the headline, make eye contact with the human. Breaking the headline onto either side of the subject’s head forces the reader to look at the human being in the portrait. Nothing shows the true soul of a person like their eyes, and making the eyes of the reader to look into the eyes of our hardworking professionals adds a sense of profound gravitas.

Where’s the Habitat logo?

This project became bigger than simply an awareness campaign. It became a movement, an initiative bigger than any one brand.

While spearheaded and funded by Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County, it became a shared mission for any social commentator or nonprofit that wanted to be a part of it. Therefore, we dropped the Habitat for Humanity logo on most of the assets, creating a campaign logo inspired by a Gordian Knot—a historical symbol representing an intricate and profound problem. Without the hands of many helping, the “wicked problem” would remain a tangled knot that might never be solved.

Public Relations integration

The foundation for the success of the Face The Housing Crisis™ campaign was laid well in advance, dating back to when the local nonprofit first partnered with &Barr in 2021. Our PR team focused efforts on positioning Habitat Orlando & Osceola’s President & CEO Catherine Steck McManus as a thought leader on Central Florida’s housing crisis. From media interviews to opinion columns and position papers, Catherine is respected in her industry and the community. So, when Habitat Orlando & Osceola was ready to launch this bold campaign, her expertise and insights on the housing crisis were already solidified.

&Barr’s PR team developed a customized communications cascade to efficiently launch the FTHC campaign. The cascade outlined timing, delivery method, message, audience, and order. Essentially, when messages would be delivered and in what order. The PR team also curated a targeted media list tailored for FTHC distribution and crafted a compelling press release and pitch.

At the “Face The Housing Crisis: A Call for Collective Leadership” event, our PR team provided on-site media support to ensure seamless execution and maximize media coverage. All five of Orlando’s local broadcast stations were in attendance as Habitat Orlando & Osceola unveiled its Cornerstone Housing™ Framework. Garnering nearly five million impressions across print, digital, and broadcast platforms, our PR team helped this campaign reach beyond Central Florida, amplifying nationwide conversation on the critical issue of housing affordability and driving momentum toward meaningful policy changes. To learn more about how this initiative started three years ago, click here.


The campaign is currently being used within the state and national political spheres to put a “face” to the crisis.

With 36.7 million impressions and 307,000 clicks, it’s safe to say this campaign didn’t just raise awareness—it created curiosity. We drove 185,500 people to the website and created 1,900 valued conversions – high value engagements. The paid ad campaign performed exceptionally well. We blasted past benchmarks for our client on Meta, YouTube, Display banners, and Hulu, by 54%, 92%, 280%, and 4%, respectively.

At the American Advertising Awards, the campaign won a Best Of Show, along with several golds for integrated media campaign, print campaign and copywriting plus a handful of silvers for photography and video. It was also featured as a full-page spread Gold winner in global creative publication, Graphis.

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