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See Dick Raise Safety Awareness in Cooper-Young

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Meet Dick. The Cooper-Young resident is into karaoke, gardening, and Sunday drives. He listens to Sting and Whitesnake and likes watching Cops. He's a Virgo, married, has a son (Little Dick), stands 5' 9", and takes home from $75,000 to $100,000 a year.

He's also, when it comes to looking out for his neighbors, clueless. He leaves valuables in his car, he doesn't pay attention to his surroundings, and he never reports suspicious behavior.

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Don't be a Dick.

That's the clarion call being put out by the Cooper-Young Community Association (CYCA) in a new safety-awareness campaign being rolled out this week. The "Don't be a Dick" message is being disseminated through posters around the neighborhood, yard signs, a direct-mail piece with awareness tips to residents, a Web site (safedick.com) and a MySpace page (www.myspace.com/safedick) which features Dick and his family and friends. At the Cooper-Young Festival on September 15th, there will be T-shirts and bumper stickers available touting the idea.

The "Don't be a Dick" campaign was the brain wave of the ad agency Harvest, located in Cooper-Young. Harvest's Andrew Holliday created the campaign, and Daniel Brown and Mike Force did the design and illustration work. Of the campaign's edgy strategy, Holliday says, "It does reflect the neighborhood, but we wanted something that had a little bit of shock value to it ... so we draw people in.

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"Once you actually read the copy, it's not offensive at all," Holliday says. "This is a message that you see people trying to convey all over the place, and a lot of times, it can be boring. We needed a strong headline, and we needed something that was kind of fun to fit the neighborhood."

Edmund Mackey is the former president and current safety chairperson of the CYCA. "Cooper-Young is probably, after downtown, the most sought after place for tourism and for Memphians to eat and drink," Mackey says. "We get a lot of traffic from other parts of Memphis. ... [We want] patrons of the restaurants, the businesses, and our neighborhood to be vigilant about their own safety."

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Mackey, a Cooper-Young resident for about five years, says, "There was a growing perception that we had a crime problem. We do have things like panhandling, cars getting broken into, sheds getting broken into, but overall crime is down. And those types of things can definitely be prevented or lessened.

Vigilance and safety awareness can prevent many crimes, Mackey says: "The purpose of [Don't be a Dick] is putting the idea out there to be responsible for your own safety.

Instead of being reactive, we wanted to be proactive and say get the laptop out of the front seat of your car. Get your purse out of the back seat of the car. You can put your car anywhere with a laptop in the front seat, and there are not too many places that people won't break into it."

Of the campaign concept Harvest came up with, Mackey says, "I love it. The original tips I came up with weren't very catchy. They were sort of bland safety tips that I didn't think would go a long way. What they came up with is definitely racy. But I think it will get people's attention, get people to talk about it, and get people to be more aware, and that's the whole goal." ■ — GA

LivingSpaces@memphisflyer.com

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