Every year, there are over 400,000 reports of missing children in the United States. 1 in 7 missing kids are likely to become victims of child sex trafficking. These are real kids stripped of their childhood. And they’re all around us – the kids you see alone at bus stops or on your flight. All it takes it one person to pay attention and help bring them home.
25 years ago, the original "Runaway Train" music video featured 36 missing kids and recovered 21 of them. If one video could find that many kids in 1994, how many can we find with new technology and social media?
For the 25th anniversary, we collaborated with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Jamie N Commons, Skylar Grey and Gallant to remix Soul Asylum’s hit song Runaway Train. But it’s more than just a cover song – it’s a dynamic music video, designed not just for watching, but for bringing home real missing and trafficked kids near you. 61% of missing children are found in the same state they went missing from.
When you watch at RunawayTrain25.com, the dynamic music video uses geo-location technology to show you real missing kids from your area, based on where you view it.
The project was a huge success. It launched on Good Morning America with a live feed in Times Square, followed by press from Rolling Stone, a full page print story in People Magazine, CNN, MTV, Wall Street Journal and hundreds more. It was nominated for an MTV VMA Award in the “Video for Good” category. It was included in broadcast segments on The View as well as Entertainment Tonight and Billboard, and cut downs appeared on Hulu. Runaway Train 25 was an Ad Age creativity pick of the day. It even gained international press coverage in many Latin American countries, the UK, and Canada.
Full page print ads about how to spot victimized children appeared in American Airlines in flight magazines. Runaway Train 25 also broke history as the largest dynamic digital out of home campaign in the U.S.
The craziest part? Not a dime was spent on promotion – all of the media was 100% donated.
For me, the most rewarding part was receiving an onslaught of positive emails from parents of missing children, thanking us for giving them hope. Ali Lowitzer has been missing for 10 years, and her mom told us about how the media stopped covering her story. As a result of our project, Ali’s story was reignited.
It's not often you get a project in advertising that will make a real difference in the world, and this is one I'm infinitely humbled to be part of. Seven weeks after launch we found out we helped recover our first missing kid. We hope to find many more.
It took a village to make this project a reality. Special thanks to the following: my M/H VCCP team Adam Ledbury (ACD), John Matejczyk (CCO), Tanya LeSieur (EP), Ben Evangelista (AP), Alexis Lovett (AD), Marissa Buss (AD), Holly Nicholson (PM), Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum, Warner Chappell Music, KIDinaKORNER, Interscope, Runway Girls, artists Jamie N Commons, Skylar Grey, Gallant, director Jake Scott of RSA Films, MediaMonks, editors Amanda Perry and Andrea MacArthur of Bread and Butter Edit, Company 3, Method Studios, Lime Studios, Subtractive, Cisco, Twitter, No Friction, Powell Communications, Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), Grand Visual, QDOT, Innovid, Reddit, Vox Media & Concert, Pandora, Vevo, and Hulu.