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Rob Nicol's favourite campaigns of 2010: St John's Ambulance

In the first part of five, Rob Nicol chooses his favourite marketing campaigns from the past year.

I’ve chosen five social campaigns, all with great ideas at their core and all designed to grow through sharing. At PHD we are pioneering new theory in this territory - traditional campaigns behave like fireworks – big explosions that you watch from distance, that create noise fast but die quickly, necessitating further investment in more fireworks to draw the crowds back.

Great social campaigns are more like bonfires – they start off slowly, attracting a few people round but then as they build, more and more people gather and start sharing and fanning the flames.

There’s also typically one of five communication hooks at the core of great social campaigns, whether it be that the work educates at one end or simply downright entertains at the other.

My first choice is the St John’s Ambulance’s “Popcorn” experiential campaign – a great example of creating a lasting bonfire by education.

Featuring a cinema advert in which a child nearly chokes to death on popcorn while her parents look on helplessly, the education starts when a member of the real life audience watching the advert stands up and says she’ll help – next minute she’s left the auditorium and appears on the screen saving the child’s life, before then returning back into the cinema to a round of genuine applause.

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