In 2010, VML provided art direction, copy and logo design for Kansas City-based charity Happy Bottoms. The group is dedicated to one thing—collecting as many diapers as humanly possible for kids in need. At the time, Happy Bottoms was a one-person operation run out of a garage.
Since then, Happy Bottoms has grown. Big time. The organization has more volunteers, more people relying on it for diapers and more goals, like winning additional corporate sponsors.
To meet these goals, Happy Bottoms came to VML for print materials, including posters, tabletops, materials for presentations to potential corporate sponsors and a kit of items for volunteers hosting diaper drives.
Additionally, VML redesigned Happy Bottoms’ outdated website. The new site now features and online donation tool, updated news and details on upcoming events and a list of participating diaper donation locations. As part of the web redesign, VML also provided development of the site to offer a more intelligent back-end solution that allows Happy Bottoms to better track donations.
All pieces needed to quickly communicate the importance of donating diapers to children in need in a playful but serious tone because this message is still unfamiliar to most people.
Happy Bottoms provides a critical service. Problem is, it’s a service most people have never heard of. There are only a few diaper banks in the U.S., and Happy Bottoms is the only one in Kansas City. To further complicate matters:
What this leads to is babies spending extended periods—sometimes days—in the same soiled diaper, putting them at higher risk for health problems.
To get donations, Happy Bottoms needed visuals that set them apart from other charities and a rallying cry to communicate their new, unfamiliar cause.
VML wanted to communicate the severity of the Happy Bottoms cause without dwelling on it. Visually, VML wanted imagery to be striking yet playful at times. Above all, VML wanted to show the humanity of children whose situations have been overlooked. And our use of color balances both male and female colors to let viewers know Happy Bottoms serves a cause that impacts all children.
In copy, VML wanted to create rallying cries for this new cause. We wanted these messages to be fun yet speak to the importance of Happy Bottoms’ cause. So VML took popular political catchphrases and adapted them to be about Happy Bottoms’ need for diapers.
For example, “The buck stops here” became “The butt stops here,” “All men are created equal” was changed to “All butts are created equal” and so on. This humorous tone continues throughout all aspects of Happy Bottoms’ communications.
For print executions, Happy Bottoms had a limited budget and needed to make the most of every piece. One way VML did this was by creating a brochure that unfolded into a poster. This way, Happy Bottoms could use the brochure as a leave-behind piece that recipients could unfold and hang in break rooms, foyers and other high-traffic areas to attract additional awareness.
Other print pieces included tear-off sheets, posters, event banners and a kit of materials that Happy Bottoms could send to volunteers hosting diaper drives to promote its event.
For the Happy Bottoms’ website redsign VML wanted to continue Happy Bottoms’ tradition of promoting an unexpected cause in an unexpected way. VML created a site in which all pages—from the home page to the last page—can be viewed by scrolling the entire site top to bottom. Additionally, users can navigate the site using standard navigation.
The site keeps a real-time tally of how many diapers Happy Bottoms has collected and features tools for signing up to host diaper drives, donating money and registering to receive diapers.
Happy Bottoms now collects tens of thousands of diapers monthly for Kansas City children. Happy Bottoms has increased its corporate sponsors from one company to six. And Happy Bottoms has grown from a one-person operation to a full-time staff of three, plus numerous volunteers, interns and a board of directors.
Happy Bottoms has also been featured on several Kansas City news and radio programs.
Creative concepting and execution was completed on a pro bono basis. All writing, art direction and digital development was produced by VML. Photography, print and web platform services (Squarespace and Drupal) were purchased using donations collected by Happy Bottoms.
This case study is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Looking for additional ways to design for good? This list of organizations and programs is a great place to start. There are many more opportunities out there—so if you know of a resource we should add here let us know!
Design for Good
Learn more about the jurors’ thoughts on this 2013 “Justified” selection.
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