Photocopier Goof Raised $4,000 for St. Louis Food Outreach

Jan 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm
Photocopier Goof Raised $4,000 for St. Louis Food Outreach
Jennifer Silverberg

Atomicdust's Face Off Against Hunger Campaign was recently named Best Use of Social Media for a Civic Campaign in Riverfront Times 2013 Web Awards. For a full list of winners click here.

A little more than a year ago, a few employees at St. Louis branding and marketing agency Atomicdust were working late, waiting on a coworker to wrap up a project before going home. To pass the time, one of them stuck his face in the office copier and hit the start button. That simple goof, says Atomicdust creative director Mike Spakowski, would lead to something unexpected.

"It made this weird, kind of scary, creepy image," Spakowski recalls of the photocopied face. "We laughed about it and thought it was funny. Then all of our staff did it that night. We instantly thought it was hysterical, so we sent them to our Facebook page."

Positive responses from Facebook fans, coupled with the fact that they were out of employee faces to copy, led to another idea last January. Atomicdust asked its neighbor, St. Louis Food Outreach, to partner in the goof for a good cause. Thus was born Face Off Against Hunger. The campaign invited St. Lousians to make a copy of their face. Atomicdust would then add the smashed flesh image to a Facebook album. In return, the company vowed to donate $5 per face to St. Louis Food Outreach.

By February word had spread via Facebook and Twitter to the point that the local news came calling. Even St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay stopped by Atomic Dust to stick his head in the copier. By May the collection of faces had grown large enough to display in a gallery show at Atomicdust's midtown office. When the campaign came to a close later that month, the company had raised a total of $4,000 for St. Louis Food Outreach.

"Without social media it would just be our internal people with an inside joke. Without it, it would never even have existed," Spakowski says. "We use social media to share our culture. We talk about our work and our projects, but we also talk about the people who work here and the stuff we do all day to get through the day. It's really important. It's not just something we use for business; it's something people use in their lives. We embrace that."