Thursday, April 24, 2008

Doing The Right Thing

I’m working on a campaign for a charity at the moment.

So of course, I’ve been spending some time looking at great charity ads that have been done in the past. Not to steal them, if that’s what you were thinking, but just to get my head into that space.

Coincidentally, my good buddy Copyranter who recently announced he had retired but now seems has started again has recently written an acerbic
post about charity advertising.

Commenting on the above ad for Crystal Meth (sorry, I mean against Crystal Meth), he writes:

I'm sure the somber admen from San Francisco agency Venable Bell and Partners, standing on the various ad awards show podiums next spring, will somberly tell the suddenly not goofing-off audience that if the ads stopped just one kid from smoking the Meth, then every pro bono second they spent toiling to craft these graphic, perfectly art-directed scenes will have been so worth it, man.

He goes on to propose a solution to the same brief that he believes would be more effective:

(all type)

Anyway, that post set me wondering… how many of the good charity ads I have been looking through were created specifically to win awards, rather than help people?

Common sense says it shouldn’t matter, as long as the ads worked.

But if the ‘Ranter is right, and the type of charity ads created to win awards are perfectly art-directed duds, then it does matter.

What do you think?

Supplementary question – the last charity campaign you worked on, what was uppermost in your mind: winning awards, or helping people?


Anonymous said...

There's another factor in all of this: the money. Usually charities get a lot more of an agency's time and expertise than they would if they were a dull FMCG client paying the same fee. So it's a quid pro quo. They get something; we get something.

The theory behind awards is that the kind of ads that win them are the kind of ads that should be most effective anyway, so you should be doing both.

'Get help getting off meth' is better than that 'sucking a dog's cock for a fiver is normal if you're on Meth' bullshit but neither are as good as they could be.

Anonymous said...

(disclaimer: I'm not an ad exec. or a graphic or web designer. I'm another kind of designer who has been involved in a whole lot of charity work, though.)

The last charity project I worked on(and directed), I didn't give even the remotest tin damn if we won awards, or anything else. The only thing I cared about was that people responded to the ads enough to click, and then went and bought the damned product, which helped raise money to save our friend's life. Period. Full stop. The end. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

If you're even *considering* the "wow, this could win an award!" thing while you're designing the promotional ads, I think you've missed the point.

Sell! Sell! said...

I'm totally with copyranter on this. More often than not it seems that when doing charity ads, no-one stopped and said 'What is the real point of these ads? What is the main thing we can help with directly, and how can we best achieve it?" And then get their egos the fuck out of the way of the communication.

Also, Oracle, unfortunately while that is the theory behind creative awards, I'm afraid it hasn't really been the case for a long time.

Charles Edward Frith said...

I can't comment as the last charity I worked on was a direct competitor for (sorry I mean against) Barnados so I'll share that one another day because the insights into fundraising and advertising costs aint purdy!

Incidentally does it make it a difference if a meth addict charges 500 bucks a pop because the ad implies that its OK if its a high class hooker but not if its a lowly drug addict? Just a thought!

Anonymous said...

Never mind Meth.

I need help getting off this bollard.

Anyone got a bit of KY? Or some Crisp'n'Dry, at least?

Anonymous said...

Doing charity ads is about doing decent work. Plain and simple. They have subject matter which is much more interesting than insurance or a generic floor cleaner, plus you they usually adopt a 'beggers can't be choosers' attitude. Meaning you don't have to let the client chop away at your idea and turn it to shit. Combined, they become briefs which are much easier to do award winning ads for.

Will your charity ads make a difference? Probably not. But then it's a big ask to expect a 48 sheet to solve world poverty.

Anonymous said...

And a hundred marketing directors ask; "The last campaign you worked on, what was uppermost in your mind: winning awards, or selling products?"

Anonymous said...

Maybe copyranter should give up his blog, surely his “GET HELP GETTING OFF METH” type suggestion would mean than this would work for any campaign, so throw away any creative treatment that’ll engage the viewer and just tell em what to do. Sorted.
It’s just fucking stupid, and using a crap Meth campaign as justification doesn’t wash, try aguing the case with say one of the recent Barnados or Big Issue ads that’ve appeared in D&AD over the last few years.

Anonymous said...

Last one the company I work for made, was for Anorexia Awareness. It was made to create awareness that the problem doesn't stem from attention seeking, but from a need to be in control, also making the point that there are websites out there that promote anorexia, giving tips on how to avoid detection and deal with the pangs of hunger. It hit all the right notes, and was brilliantly directed, consequently it won awards. While creating it, nobody mentioned awards.

I think that the Choice FM super slow mo ad is astonishingly brilliant, and the recent Waterboarding one for Amnesty is pretty shocking. Choice FM has already been shortlisted for awards here and there.

But is there a problem hunting for awards? The bottom line is that it has to raise awareness, and if it's winning awards, then it is MORE effective than a charity ad that does not.

Anonymous said...

"GET HELP GETTING OFF METH" might be an option if the role of the ad is helping people kick the drug. But if it's to raise money for Montana Meth (which it's pretty obvious is the focus) then that would do a fat lot of good.

Anonymous said...

I've just farted in the office.

No one has noticed yet.

Anonymous said...


Someone just did a really bad fart in the office.

Open a window someone.

Anonymous said...

12 minutes? Come on Laurel and Hardy. Sort your timings out.

Anonymous said...

re anon 6.25

Bloody open plan offices!

Anonymous said...

Scamp, some good ones from a latin american foundations to raise money for kids with low resources.

It claims something like: "There's a part of your salary that don't cost you too much to earn. Donate."

I think they do both. but i dont know if the agency was thinking on awards.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

They're ALL for awards. Don't kid youself. They're easist ways to get an award. People will manipulate the system.

I mean, one perfect example is that 15° below jacket that I just saw. When I first saw it, I was like 'good, cool effort.' Then I thought, if I see it entered into an award show, I know what it was really for.

Why not just do good, or even do it anonymously?

Anonymous said...

Some creative directors we worked for bullied a charity client into sinking its entire budget into a series of "award winning' cinema ads aimed at raising money. They raised a grand total of £65. We very rarely get a chance to make a difference. To me if it doesn't work it's not award winning.

Anonymous said...

... Maybe charity ads shouldn't be allowed to be entered into awards because if they do well they ultimately benefit the creators and not their desired audience?

Anonymous said...

ranter says he answers the same brief, but do the ad not talk to people who aren't yet on meth whilst ranter is talking to people who are on meth? If he instead had suggested DON'T DO METH and answered the same brief as the ad, it would have been even shittier than his first suggestion.

Anonymous said...

But winning awards gains more views, therefore heightens awareness, therefore is more effective.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what the Bold soup at EAT is today?

Anonymous said...

Creatives like Charity/pro bono assignments for four simple reasons:

a) The subject matter is often more lurid and "interesting" than say selling cheap shampoo

b) There is often no money or interest for 'testing'

c) The subject matter often allows for shock tactis to be a legitimate response

d) Awards juries like shocking ads

Self-serving? You bet.

Anonymous said...

Chicken Tom Kha Gai

Anonymous said...

So "awareness" of an issue is all that's required to solve it?

I would guess that pretty much 100% of people are "aware" that the issues of HIV/AIDS, poverty, child abuse etc. exist.

Oddly, despite this "awareness" they still persist.

Anonymous said...

That girl's quite fit. If I wasn't happily married I'd pay $15 bucks to fuck her.

It's that glassy, faraway look in her eyes. It reminds me of the impossiblity of reason.

Don't listen to that silly old ad. Daddy wants a piece.

Anonymous said...

re Mate Koss @1.25

I think you should leave Kate Moss to do the funny stuff!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

A word of advice.

Don't go in the loo on the third floor for a couple of hours.

Something bad just happened.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Wolk said...

Well, he's wrong and he's right:

I suspect 90% of the people who do these pro-bono ads really do think they're doing something wonderful and helping poor unfortunates and using their skills for something more important than just selling toothpaste and all the other bullshit you hear.

But... he's 100% right that a simple "Get Help...800#" ad would be equally as effective since I'm quite skeptical that any sort of anti-addiction ad makes much of a difference.

The US govt has been paying zillions to runs these kind of ads in the US and I'm not sure I've ever seen one that made me think twice. It's the old theory about forbidden fruit and all.

The grey area here are charity ads where the end goal is to get you to donate money. Those can be very effective and do actually do some good. But that means they have to be effective direct response vehicles that make it easy for people to actually donate money. (Something a lot of award-show focused agencies aren't very good at.)

As to banning them from award shows, it's not a bad idea.

Alan Wolk said...

PS - Simon- the link to copyranters blog needs fixing.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to think that an ad that was effective at helping people, would also win awards - and aren't a lot of the prinicples the same - if it truly engages people and influences them to act - whether it's to stop taking Meth or to donate money etc then that should make it an award winning ad? Depending on what makes an ad good - effectiveness? creativeness? or surely the overlap of the two?

Scamp said...

thanks Toad

Anonymous said...

On a non-charitable note Scamp, just heard from a mate who was lucky enough to see the new Nike ad. Breaking next week during the CL semi and clocking in at 2 minutes long.

He said it was slightly embarrassing. As when the ad finished, he realised he was actually stood there with his mouth wide open.

He's a miserable twat who hates everything, yet he said it maybe the best ad that Nike have ever made.

Keep your eyes peeled.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rob said...

The Campaign Direct awards banned charity as a category a few years ago.

Which was curious, given Toad's post.

When you are accountable, I think the sector becomes a lot less 'easy' than the cliché would have you believe.

I've seen many a good creative fail to negotiate the line between a 'good' idea and an 'effective' one (there should be no demarcation, of course).

I always think Saatchi's NSPCC ads are usually the best example of ATL charity work. It wins them awards and it has a knock on effect into their fundraising.

Anonymous said...

And of course a charity ad cannot win the Cannes Grand Prix.

It can get a special prize as the Queen Elizabeth Foundation film 'Tapioca' got in 1994.

Anonymous said...

re anon at 4.27

It was the Queen Elizabeth film, thats F I L M, not the Radio spot that won the special prize. And it was called 'Eggs', because the woman in the film, who had no arms made scramble eggs. Duh

Anonymous said...

Anybody see the hilarious (I'm being ironic) charity ad for Nabs. Featuring a washed up old creative giving his kids the nasty CD routine because their paintings were "crap"?

Something about ad people, were not very good at doing ads for ourselves.

And something about Nabs that doesn't draw a lot of sympathy.

Darcie said...

I think the copy of the poster is great. They could have probably won an award for copywriting without even trying. Remove image. Straight copy and it still hits home. People are becoming very desensitised to imagry now days, it's all starting to look the same.

Then they might not even bother to read the copy - which is the real loss.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that charity is quite formulaic. The same small group of CD older housewives still contribute the vast majority of charity donations. They are more likely to give to local/national charities. They get bombarded by direct mail. Expensive glossy direct mail pisses them off - they want their money to do good, not line an agency or printers pocket.

Younger givers give to international charities. They respond to pictures of starving kids. You can test other images, they won't work particularly well.

What the agency should really be doing is finding 4 or 5 very rich people and selling directly to them. Show them where their name will go, what centre will be named after them, where their statue will go in the village. Works very well in the States.

Unfortunately a lot of (smaller) charities have semi-retired marketing directors who used to have high-profile jobs. I reckon there's and element of "Yeah, I still got it" when they approve/brief work.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is off topic but It's worth mentioning.
Tucker's out from Fallon. And he's not been the only one lately. Woth a post maybe?


The only Charities worth helping are the one's which can't afford advertising anyway, so the question of awards over great work doesn't really matter at all in the bigger picture.

If your hearts in it to help, it's the long hard battle of politics! Love the blog btw

JaLucy x

Anonymous said...

New Nike ad is fantastic, even if it does rip off the Prodigy video.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a bit blah to be honest, with lashings of meh

Anonymous said...

Winning the heart of people and then awards seems to me the rigth thing. Pay respect for your cause, do something different and create a beneficial effect in the process:

This Down's sindrome campaign seems effective from the start.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 9:02 AM
Apparently no one cares but Tucker was wasted talent in a place that is becoming too cynical and self centered. His print pedigree and strong character deserve much better. Hope he gets it.