Practically since the dawn of time, the
best advertising agencies have been
advertising for next to nothing.
It’s a mutually benevolent
gets memorable, visible work,
raising money and profile.
memorable, visible work for
its shop-window. And a warm,
Also, from an agency’s point of view,
great charity advertising is a cinch,
isn’t it? Think of all the heartstrings you
can pull – you’re pushing at an open
Wrong. Great charity advertising is
very hard to do well.
What’s easy is showing victims of
and hope that pity alone will move
large numbers of people to give
Sadly, it doesn’t often work. In a world of
news, charities can rarely rely on shock
unshockable. (I also blame Scandinavian
crime dramas for this tendency.)
And – let’s face it – we’re all poorer than we
were. In the grips of a nasty global
recession, looking after Number One is,
well, number one.
I don’t have any answers for society’s charityennui. But there are some tactics I try to
consider when I’m asked to conceive and write
CHARITY ADVERTISING HAS TO BE DIFFERENT
I start by looking at what everyone else is
doing in that field of charity advertising
and try something wildly different – an
approach to the subject. If all the other
advertising in the sector features black
and white photography, be colorful. If all
the other advertising is full of misery, be
very positive. If all the other advertising is
text-heavy, use one word instead.
Not a scientific template but you get my drift.
I try to think beyond the medium I’ve
been asked to work in: if it’s a press ad,
how do I make that message seem so
important that it generates discussion,
protest, outrage? I’ve always felt that
private fund-raising is a mug’s game
compared to galvanising government
No amount of people waving plastic boxes will generate the sort of funds governments have for your
cause. So use your message to embarrass politicians into doing something. (A good deed in itself.) Or
find a way to lobby Bill Gates.
Above all, think outside the box.
Create a national event, for example.
Red Nose Day and the BBC’s Children
famous, prodigious fund-raisers in the
UK. And of course, the big daddy of
them all, Bob Geldof’s Live Aid, did
more for poverty in Africa than almost
anything ever. We can’t all raise the
resources for such mega-events. But a
great idea like Movember (growing a
moustache for prostate cancer every
November) is very achievable.
I think of charity advertising as an
opportunity to do some good but also as
an intellectual challenge in using words
to effect change that no ad for frozen
responsibility but, by thinking outside the
box, anything is possible.
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