In a video produced by ad agency Silver + Partners and Smuggler for the New York City Rescue Mission, several people come face-to-face with their relatives and significant others dressed as homeless people. However, not a single participant recognizes their mother, brother or wife.
“There’s only one person that didn’t make it into the film — because they couldn’t handle the fact that they walked by their family,” video director Jun Diaz of Smuggler production agency mentioned. “It happened every time.”
The jarring social experiment, staged in Tribeca and Soho near the mission’s shelter, shows just how invisible homeless people are to pedestrians on the street.
Michelle Tolson, director of public relations for the New York City Rescue Mission mentioned. “We don’t look at them. We don’t take a second look,”
Tolson explained that the ad agency and production company hired actors for a documentary video and quietly contacted each person’s family to see if they would be interested in being apart of the social experiment. While the family members were in on the ruse, the participants had no idea they were being set up, and only learned after the fact when they watched themselves walk past their “homeless” family member.
“The experiment is a powerful reminder that the homeless are people, just like us, with one exception,” Craig Mayes, executive director of New York City Rescue Mission, said. “They are in trouble and in pain. And they are someone’s uncle or cousin or wife.”
Watch how each person reacts after the big reveal in Make Them Visible’s video above.