On 30 October, Childline will celebrate 30 years of helping children across the UK deal with their problems. When the counselling service launched in 1986, the world looked very different, and the main point of contact for over 95 per cent of those reaching out to the service did so through a phone box or landline. Fast forward to today, and some 70 per cent of Childline’s contacts come through online channels.
This is putting an enormous strain on the charity – which 10 years ago became part of the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) – as it not only faces the expense of making sure its services are up to scratch, but the challenge of recruiting and training volunteers to work 24/7.
To be at the forefront, Childline quite simply needs donations, but there are limitations on what it can do in its marketing. Chiefly, the service is prized for its confidentiality, meaning it can’t tell the stories of how it helps people in the same way other charities might.
And aside from the impact the financial climate has on people’s ability to donate, the NSPCC – like other charities – is facing a raft of new legislation which is making it trickier to connect with individuals.
But through internal research, the charity has tapped into one opportunity which could potentially open it to a host of new donors – better aligning the NSPCC and Childline brands. It has found that people who know the relationship are much more likely to support the NSPCC.
And therein lies the crux of the NSPCC’s brief to the advertising industry at Plan It Day, the precursor for The Drum’s Do It Day, where the marketing industry will be put to the task of solving real-world challenges. It’s looking for creatives – be they individuals or with the might of an agency behind them – to come up with ideas for how it can drive that awareness among adults in the coming months and years.
When it comes to how it does this, the NSPCC has deliberately made its brief as wide as possible to encourage ideas from an above the line campaign to a piece of tech, all of which it’s on board with if it meets the expectedly strict budgets in place.
When it comes to telling the story, there are only a few things that the NSPCC knows won’t work, the first of which is shock tactics.
In the early days of Childline, it had to do a lot of work to shift perceptions and help people to acknowledge that child abuse was a serious issue. But over the past 15 years that has changed. People have begun to understand how deep and wide ranging child abuse can be and so it’s no longer about convincing people of that fact, but showing them that they can be part of a solution when so often it feels like it is too big a problem to solve.
Think you've got what it takes to work on the NSPCC's challenge? Then sign up for Plan It Day here and help The Drum prove that marketing can change the world.