Tom de Castella’s latest article on BBC News Magazine references a new survey by the ASA, which found that people feel charity adverts contain too much offensive content and go too far in making people feel guilty. I’ll leave the difference between what people say they like and what they actually respond to aside for today, and instead think about the adverts I remember and why.
The adverts which have stayed in my mind over recent months are actually the commercial ones I have found entertaining. How I smiled and reminisced at the Muller Light advert with Yogi Bear and the Mr Men. How I giggled at the Yeo Valley boy band spoof and wondered one, whether it would be available to download, and two, whether I should consider entering the competition to feature in the advert screened during the X-Factor finals. Not really. Well, maybe just a little bit.
‘Entertaining’ is unfortunately not a word I often associate with charity brands. And that I think is a real shame. I’ve heard a few charity brand managers jealous of the boost GOSH received from Danny Boyle, and with the jubilation of an Olympic Opening Ceremony with a flying Mary Poppins fresh in my mind, I wish they’d look to enhance their own brand profile through fun and entertainment more. Rather than the doom, gloom and shock tactics the ASA point out.
I guess the blindingly obvious exception is Comic Relief which cleverly mixes emotion and entertainment in equal measure. Charity concerts also spring to mind, whether music, comedy, or both. And lots of brands are jumping on that brand wagon, from Help for Heroes to Amnesty International, Teenage Cancer Trust, Mencap and Kids with Coldplay as their brand champions. Looking back, the gigs we did with Xfm in my days as Brand Manager at Shelter were definitely a career highlight. Although the controversial compering by Jimmy Carr almost led to an abrupt career end. Ask me about that one when you see me!
Yes, we work for serious causes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t add some fun and humour into our brands. In these tough and gloomy economic times do we want to make people feel worse, and come across as ubba-worthy, when we could help to make them smile instead? If more charities entertained me, rather than made me feel guilty, I may be more likely to support them.
If a charity brand has entertained you recently I would love to know which one and how. Leave your example in the comments section to make me smile (and to encourage me to support you). Alas, our 2012 Olympic high may soon come to an end, but let’s spread some joy.
Dan is The Good Agency's Head of Brand – and an expert on brand identities for third-sector organisations.