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Agency Life

Chicago Calls Dibs

Chicago Calls Dibs

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

February 13, 2018

Havas Chicago has turned a time-honored tradition, calling dibs on a recently snow-cleared space, into an initiative to help the city’s homeless.

Folks in Chicago recently finished digging out after a major winter storm grounded more than 1,700 flights and delayed another 4,400 across the Midwest. Big storms are simply part of Chicago’s winter life—and so is a tradition called “dibs.” Paul Hirsch, Executive Creative Director at Havas Chicago, shares how he and his team turned the Chi-Town winter ritual into a movement to help the city’s homeless community.

How hard is it for Chicagoans to deal with the winters?

Some people hibernate, watch a lot of Netflix, and wait for spring to roll around. But most Chicagoans are pretty tough. It’s called the City of Big Shoulders for a reason. A little snow and cold weather doesn’t really scare most. Mayoral elections have been won and lost based on snow removal. It’s more a nuisance, making sure you put down salt on your stairs and wishing the city plowed the alleys.

For those of us who aren’t from Chicago, tell us about the tradition called “dibs.”

It’s the time-honored practice of holding a shoveled-out parking space after a major snowfall. Traditionally, people use cheap chairs, but I’ve seen kitchen tables, ironing boards, and even standing cutouts of Leonardo DiCaprio.

It’s quasi-legal, but former Mayor Daley once remarked, “If someone spends all that time digging their car out, do not drive in that spot. This is Chicago. Fair warning.”

So, describe this new Havas Chicago project, “This Is Dibs.” How does it help fight homelessness in the city?

We use our lobby to promote causes and organizations that we are passionate about. In the past we’ve done installations and activations for breast cancer awareness, Black History Month, International Women’s Day, and net neutrality.

For this project we’re raising money and awareness for a partner of ours, Lincoln Park Community Services. As part of this installation more than 20 artists have designed chairs that we are auctioning off. All proceeds will benefit LPCS.

Will you do this next winter?

Sadly, the installation will be over long before the snow is gone, but based on the great response (we’ve received more than 28 million impressions), we would love to do a part two next year with more Chicago artists. Nick Cave, Jeanne Gang, Virgil Abloh, and even ex-Chicagoan Christopher Wool would be nice.

So, how can others get involved?

Go bid on a chair or donate to LPCS.

Folks in Chicago recently finished digging out after a major winter storm grounded more than 1,700 flights and delayed another 4,400 across the Midwest. Big storms are simply part of Chicago’s winter life—and so is a tradition called “dibs.” Paul Hirsch, Executive Creative Director at Havas Chicago, shares how he and his team turned the Chi-Town winter ritual into a movement to help the city’s homeless community.

How hard is it for Chicagoans to deal with the winters?

Some people hibernate, watch a lot of Netflix, and wait for spring to roll around. But most Chicagoans are pretty tough. It’s called the City of Big Shoulders for a reason. A little snow and cold weather doesn’t really scare most. Mayoral elections have been won and lost based on snow removal. It’s more a nuisance, making sure you put down salt on your stairs and wishing the city plowed the alleys.

For those of us who aren’t from Chicago, tell us about the tradition called “dibs.”

It’s the time-honored practice of holding a shoveled-out parking space after a major snowfall. Traditionally, people use cheap chairs, but I’ve seen kitchen tables, ironing boards, and even standing cutouts of Leonardo DiCaprio.

It’s quasi-legal, but former Mayor Daley once remarked, “If someone spends all that time digging their car out, do not drive in that spot. This is Chicago. Fair warning.”

So, describe this new Havas Chicago project, “This Is Dibs.” How does it help fight homelessness in the city?

We use our lobby to promote causes and organizations that we are passionate about. In the past we’ve done installations and activations for breast cancer awareness, Black History Month, International Women’s Day, and net neutrality.

For this project we’re raising money and awareness for a partner of ours, Lincoln Park Community Services. As part of this installation more than 20 artists have designed chairs that we are auctioning off. All proceeds will benefit LPCS.

Will you do this next winter?

Sadly, the installation will be over long before the snow is gone, but based on the great response (we’ve received more than 28 million impressions), we would love to do a part two next year with more Chicago artists. Nick Cave, Jeanne Gang, Virgil Abloh, and even ex-Chicagoan Christopher Wool would be nice.

So, how can others get involved?

Go bid on a chair or donate to LPCS.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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