UpHouse and our network of collaborators are celebrating a wave of milestones! While we just marked five years since launching UpHouse, one of our first clients—The Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba—is about to celebrate 50 years in operation! When we were just a wee baby agency, CPMB took a chance on us—and boy, did it pay off. Our first big award-winning campaign, Locked Out of Life, gained worldwide attention.
We’ve said it time and time again, and it still rings true: when it comes to building good client relationships in marketing, trust is everything. David Kron, the Executive Director of CPMB, trusted us to create a radical campaign that would grab people’s attention. Without a doubt, working with David has been a mutually beneficial relationship, and his influence helped shape the vision and direction of UpHouse in the years that followed.
And wouldn’t you know it—David is celebrating a significant milestone, too! Thirty years ago, he joined CPMB as a volunteer board member, acting as board president from 2000–2001. After that, he moved on to a new position with Freedom Concepts Inc., working as a travelling salesman for 12 years, selling specially designed bicycles for children with physical disabilities.
I travelled all over North America. We called it ‘Bob’—butts on bikes! We’d get the kid on the bike, the bike moved, the parents would start to cry and then we’d find the funding to get that kid a new bike.
When it came time for CPMB’s Executive Director to retire, David was the clear choice to take over. Eleven years later, he’s still running the show, helping Manitobans with Cerebral Palsy get access to the resources and community supports they deserve. We’ve learned so much from David, who was instrumental in developing our Social Purpose Statement:
We exist to inspire the social consciousness of brands.
Changing the World One Campaign at a Time
With decades of experience in advocating for the disabled community, and as someone with Cerebral Palsy, David knows first-hand that positive change can be slow and incremental. As a non-profit charity, CPMB is run entirely from donations and receives zero government assistance. Enlisting the help of a marketing agency to launch a major campaign isn’t easy when you’re on a strict budget, so we had to make it count.
Tyson Sylvester—one of the faces of our Locked out of Life campaign—is a Manitoban with Cerebral Palsy and visual impairment. We created an installation in Winnipeg’s Old Market Square, where we locked Tyson in a jail cell and provided headphones for passersby to use, so they could hear Tyson tell his story.
It was amazing. I thought we were gonna do the direct-to-camera, tell our story, boo hoo hoo type of situation. Alex, Brenlee and the UpHouse team came up with something completely different—something that had staying power and made people think. It blew away my comprehension of what is possible. — David Kron
Though the scene was unsettling, it raised awareness of the realities of living in isolation as someone with a disability. As the cost of living continues to skyrocket, disability assistance has barely increased in 20 years, leaving hundreds of thousands of Manitobans without the necessary means to live active, fulfilling lives.
David admits he had some concerns about putting a member of the CPMB in a jail cell, but he was willing to own it and live with it, whether it went good, bad or ugly. However, he says the secret to our campaign’s success was all in the tone. By understanding the culture and values of CPMB, we could get the tone right and do their story justice.
Our video gained hundreds of thousands of views, launching both CPMB and UpHouse into the public view. David says he got a lot of feedback from government folks, and while they didn’t necessarily agree with every element of the campaign, it still worked in CPMB’s favour. When you’re relying on public donations, getting noticed is valuable. Since then, David says media engagement has improved dramatically, and a lot more people return his phone calls!\
The Most Visible and Invisible Group
Striving for better inclusion and accessibility for all Manitobans is a value that CPMB and UpHouse hold in high regard. David continues to empower the disabled community to raise their voices and fight for their rights, leading by example.
Disability is not a bad word. We need to own it! I’d much rather have a full head of hair again than get rid of my Cerebral Palsy. It’s what I’ve always known—it’s a different journey, and that doesn’t make it any less valid.
Our built environment—infrastructure, employment, transportation, education, customer service and even the internet—is riddled with barriers and accessibility issues. Through his continuous advocacy, David hopes more people will see their development plans through an accessibility lens so that all Manitobans can have equal and fair opportunities.
It’s not an ‘Us vs. Them’ thing. It’s a human right. At some point in your life, you’re probably going to be a part of our community, whether that’s at birth, or you’re in a car accident and your leg is broken for a few weeks, or you’re nearing the end of your lifespan. We’re all in this together, and high tide raises all boats.
Joining forces with CPMB has helped both our organizations grow together, and we hope more Manitobans will follow suit in the fight for accessibility and disability rights. Looking for ways to support? Donate to the Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba, and join us next spring at the annual Stationary Bike Race!