Invisible Faces

NYPD Starts New Missing Persons Initiative 

Conceived by BBDO New York, the New York-based global advertising agency, Invisible Faces brings together retailers and the NYPD’s Missing Persons Squad in a unique partnership idea designed to broaden awareness about missing persons still yet to be found. The new initiative will make use of store front windows, as well as the generic mannequins passersby are accustomed to seeing. Instead of faceless figures, a sculpted version of the missing person’s face will appear on the mannequin, turning the storefront into an advertising medium. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. All calls are strictly confidential.

“Increasing public awareness is the key to generating leads. The more people who are aware, the better our chance to be successful,” said Lt. Christopher Zimmerman, Commanding Officer of the Missing Persons Squad. “This is a brilliant idea for helping to make sure that someone missing is not forgotten. After all, in a city like New York, everyone is so busy, they may not even notice the people around them. By putting a face on a store mannequin, it’s one more way we can make sure someone missing is not invisible.”

The first missing person to be highlighted on this new initiative is Patrick Alford, Jr., a seven-year-old boy who went missing from his foster home about six years ago. Unfortunately, he’s still missing. The NYPD’s Missing Persons Squad has never given up and continues to search for him to this day. Patrick’s face is being sculpted on a mannequin that will be on display in a SOHO-based boutique which was selected because of the large amount of foot traffic the store receives. The boutique belongs to the 50-year-old heritage brand of the original packable rain jackets, called K-Way.

The mannequin will be dressed in the same clothing Patrick was wearing on the day he disappeared, with his bright red T-shirt standing out in juxtaposition to the more muted colors that mannequins standing beside Patrick’s will be wearing. In addition, through the magic of Standard Transmission, a Brooklyn-based studio that specializes in mannequin design, and portrait sculptor Michael Evert, a recreation of Patrick’s head and features – as they would look today – has been created and sculpted by hand to become the face of the mannequin. Basic information will be displayed on a plaque next to the mannequin including, when and where Patrick was last seen. There will also be an iPad in-store for passersby to engage with and learn more. A dedicated microsite and hashtag, #BringPatrickHome, has been created to further drive awareness and lead generation: www.invisiblefaces.info.

“We are absolutely committed to reminding the public that their help is needed if we are to ever find him,” said Lt. Zimmerman. “Any information, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, is appreciated. The ‘Invisible Faces’ program is an ingenious way to gather new leads. We thank BBDO, K-Way New York and everyone involved for bringing this idea to our attention.”

Said John Osborn, President and CEO, BBDO New York, “BBDO New York is a New York institution, and we are proud to lend our support to the NYPD. This is our ‘moon shot’ at taking a more innovative approach to partnership and tackling the toughest of problems. After all, that’s when marketing works best, when it helps solve the seemingly unsolvable.”

BBDO also partners with the New York City Police Foundation in many ways, including the Crime Stoppers program.