Why the Spinal Injuries Association and Engine encouraged viewers to fast-forward their ad

The SIA campaign featured the first outdoor ad to allow viewers to 'fast-forward' it with a £2 donation.

Engine was highly commended in the ‘Interactive’ category at The Drum Out of Home Awards 2019 with its ‘Donate to Accelerate’ campaign for the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA). Here, the agency reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this successful project.

The challenge

Try writing your name with the wrong hand.

Frustrating right? Now imagine that frustration in every single thing you do - eating, getting dressed, typing an email. That’s what people with spinal cord injuries have to overcome. And it’s more common than you might think.

Every day, 6 people in the UK sustain a life-changing spinal cord injury. For these people, basic everyday tasks become gruelling challenges.

The Spinal Injury Association (SIA) exist to help people conquer these barriers, to rebuild their lives after a spinal cord injury, one crushing barrier at a time. They believe that while life might be different, it shouldn’t be worse.

Our objectives were twofold. We needed to raise awareness of SIA among the general public and encourage people to donate in the process.

The strategy

How to make people feel connected to a charity they’d never heard of?

We spoke to over 30 people – a mix of those who had been supported by SIA and those that work for the charity. It was clear that SIA understood.

They understood that it was the constant, everyday battles – physical and emotional – that made moving forwards feel unachievable. The battles that sound small but feel like a 50-foot wall. By helping them overcome these, SIA helped people feel human again. They inspired them that the struggle was worth it.

In short, SIA save lives by making the everyday achievable. We needed people to experience this to understand why SIA was so crucial. And, importantly, know they could help. SIA make the 'everyday' achievable. By donating, the public could too.

The campaign

In a world where most brands are trying to prevent people from skipping their ads, we encouraged people to fast-forward ours.

On Disabled Access Day, we took over the full-motion D6 screens in Manchester city centre. Our ad forced the public to experience the daily frustrations of life with a spinal injury, first-hand.

Shot from a first-person perspective, our ad showed passers-by exactly what it’s like to complete two basic everyday tasks with a spinal cord injury. The two tasks - making a cup of tea and putting shoes on – both demonstrated that progress is painfully slow, making it excruciating viewing.

Viewers were invited to speed up the progress of the people in the ad by donating £2 to SIA, using an in-built contactless payment device.

Without a donation, the agonising struggle continued, and the task ended in failure. However, if a donation was made, the ad instantly fast-forwarded through the painstaking struggle to the point where the task was successfully completed.

This was the first time it has been possible to fast-forward a DOOH ad, and it gave everyone who engaged with our ad the gratification of instantly seeing the difference their donation makes.

Donate to Accelerate - a simple idea that made a life-changing difference to anyone learning to live with a spinal injury.

The results

Our campaign set out to do two things: create awareness of the critical work that SIA do, and gather donations to support their efforts. We nailed both.

We created unprecedented coverage for SIA. In one day, 7m people saw our campaign and learned about SIA’s life-changing work. Similarly, website traffic increased by 200% compared to this period last year. At a personal level, everyone who interacted instantly saw the difference their donation makes to spinal cord injured people.

We smashed our donations target. Compared to SIA’s average fundraising activity, donations were up 195%.

Excitingly, our campaign had a third ‘bonus’ outcome. Our campaign has sparked a step-change in how SIA view themselves, inspiring them to think internally about how they can reposition their communications and services across the board to celebrate the impact that overcoming everyday challenges can have.

“Each year over 2,500 people will experience the devastating effects of a spinal cord injury. SIA is here to help, providing practical advice and support, as well as the confidence to rebuild lives after injury or diagnosis. But we want to do more. And that’s why the Donate to Accelerate project has been so important. These pioneering adverts have really helped us to reach out and tell our story in a way that captures the imagination of the general public and really makes a difference.” - Andrew Smart, head of marketing and communications, Spinal Injuries Association.

This project was highly commended at The Drum Out of Home Awards 2019. Click here to register your interest in 2020’s event.

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