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The Best Work You May Never See: Goodby Silverstein & Partners Sets "Poverty Line Prices" For Tipping Point


Robert Goldrich
Monday, Nov. 21, 2016


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In San Francisco, the average annual family income is $153,000, and after taxes is nearly five times the $24,300 a year that families living on the poverty line have to survive on. Today, this is a reality for 1 in 10 families struggling to make ends meet in the city with the highest rent in the country. It’s hard to break the cycle of poverty when the budget barely covers the basics. To shed light on what it feels like to live with so few financial resources, Tipping Point Community, a leading poverty-fighting organization in the Bay Area, is introducing “Poverty Line Prices,” an awareness campaign timed with the holiday giving season. 

The campaign, which was developed in partnership with Bay Area advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners (GS&P), demonstrates the cost of living in poverty, by showing how every day necessities are approximately five times as expensive as they are for a family making the average Bay Area salary. 

For a family living on the poverty line, milk that costs almost $5 feels as if it costs $24. A $23 Thanksgiving turkey becomes $114. A $73 monthly bus pass is the equivalent of $362. And one semester’s worth of college books, $584, becomes a staggering $2,894—a poignant reminder of how difficult it can be to break the cycle of poverty. 

“Every day, more than one million Bay Area residents are forced to choose between putting food on the table and paying the rent, buying medicine and paying for school books. And, lack of financial resources is just one of the many challenges facing those living below the poverty line,” said Daniel Lurie, CEO + Founder of Tipping Point Community.

“In a region with so many resources and so much creativity, we simply have to do more to help break the cycle of multigenerational poverty in the Bay Area.”

An online film was created to bring the experience of living in poverty to life by capturing the reactions of shoppers as they purchased groceries with prices inflated by 500%. The film was shot at a grocery store in Nob Hill—one of San Francisco’s most affluent neighborhoods, where, Zillow estimates, the median rent is $5,242 per month, and the average home price is $1.39 million.

The film drives to, where users can enter their salaries or use the San Francisco average to see how much more expensive items ranging from rent to schoolbooks to groceries would feel if they were living on the poverty line. Users are also encouraged to donate to Tipping Point through the site by donating the value of basic needs that have been marked-up according to their salary. Information about the campaign can also be shared on social channels by using the hashtag #povertylineprices.

“The Bay Area is a tale of two cities: the haves and the have-nots,” said Rich Silverstein, co-chairman and partner of GS&P. “We wanted people to get a small sense of the reality of living on the poverty line to truly understand the importance of Tipping Point’s mission.” 

For the past 11 years, Tipping Point has rigorously screened and invested in the most promising non-profits educating, employing, housing and supporting people in the Bay Area who are too poor to meet their basic needs. Last year alone, Tipping Point helped put 22,000 people on a path out of poverty.


Client Tipping Point Community Agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners Rich Silverstein, creative co-chairman; Tristan Graham, associate creative director; Chris Peel, design director; Tod Puckett, director of content production; Michael Damiani, executive broadcast producer; Noah Dasho, sr. art & print producer; Margaret Brett-Kearns, director of interactive production;  Andre Cardozo, associate technology director; Teny Goy, interactive producer; Bonnie Wan, head of brand strategy; James Thrope, deputy director of brand strategy. Production Elevel Erik Johnson, editor; Lori Ardan, assistant editor; Ali Plansky, producer. Music Atomic Music Track Title: “Intricate Designs” Audio Post Elevel Dave Baker, mixer.

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