Are Brits missing the seriousness of charity by submerging it in entertainment?
When it comes to charity, it doesn’t appear that a hard-nosed approach to suffering appeals to the hearts of the Brits. In its passive fashion, the UK euphemises the reality of helplessness through personal gain; charity shops, celebrity specials, red nose days, social media challenges and Children in Need are all examples of how we use entertainment and consumption as a middle man, bringing an element of joy to a serious issue.
Is entertainment a necessary tool for raising awareness?
We asked The Drum Network members if they think this approach is necessary for raising awareness, and how can we can alter our marketing technique so people’s mentality shifts from one of gaining benefit to wanting to educate themselves on the issues raised.
Travis Eyles, senior paid media executive, Rocketmill
It’s true, our response to tragedy and strife can often be to turn away when it hasn’t been softened by entertainment. But I don’t believe this is necessary for raising awareness; you only need to look at how millennials behave online to see they care. A recent Google study showed 39% of young YouTubers use the platform to ‘see the world differently’.
We don’t necessarily need to alter marketing techniques to make people care – many already do. Instead, we must ensure content reaches and informs these users through optimisation and refined targeting. This should educate people about how they can help and continually engage donators, encouraging them to share through captivating creative used in customer relationship management (CRM) and retargeting activity.
Chloe Rushworth, senior PR campaign manager, Stickyeyes
It is an excess of digital and social entertainment that has shaped this belief. Too much of the same stuff is being produced – whether its hard-hitting advertorial campaigns or marketing campaigns that are focused on personal gain – and there is no middle ground. This needs to change.
Marketers need to be more disruptive, step outside the norm and create valuable content for charities. Homeless charity The Passage launched a virtual reality (VR) campaign just before Christmas, encouraging people to experience what it’s like to be living rough on Oxford Street. An extremely well executed campaign with absolutely no element of joy or personal gain, it’s a prime example of what can be done to raise awareness for a serious issue.
Ian Hyde, head of paid media, Ayima
They call it a FUNdraiser for a reason. Bringing an element of joy and fun to serious matters cuts through the noise and grabs people’s attention, which after all is the most important thing. Yes, people may tune in to see Harry Styles get his haircut live on TV, but if 10% of the viewers make the connection between the action and the cause is that not worth it?
The most vital part of any charity campaign is retention and making sure that those involved know the positive effect that their generosity has had builds trust and a long-term relationship.
Stuart Button, group creative director, Lick Creative
At the moment, the personal gain approach is necessary, perhaps because it’s the more effective approach to enticing people to donate – in the same way that marketers may use a quick promotion to get people to sign-up to a newsletter. However, it isn’t necessarily sustainable for charities as it won’t lead to long-term donations. Celebrity specials, red nose days and social media challenges all have a short shelf-life.
As technology in marketing evolves, charities are faced with having to market to a more digitally-aware audience. Socially driven campaigns that utilise the latest personalisation features offered by Facebook’s profile picture filters, as well as everything Snapchat is pushing, will play a more integral part in educating the millennial, while adhering to their ever-growing social media-driven desires. The only way to achieve long-term, sustained donations is to educate people on the cause through the use of technology.
Dave Evans, head of digital, Chapter
Euphemism keeps us safe from the harsh realities of the world and, as we become more desensitised to the suffering around us, it’s understandable that charities resort to the tactics described to encourage us to donate. Couple this with increasing levels of competition (with over 160,000 UK charities), concerns around trust and transparency and squeezed household finances, a charity marketing team’s job gets even harder.
These organisations should learn to leverage the power of behavioural science that says people act in far more irrational ways than marketers otherwise might think. Once charities learn to abandon the fallacy of the ‘rational’ consumer, they will be able to create far more successfully influential communications.
Nick Meakin, head of sport, The Playbook
Charity marketing at its best provokes emotion. It makes people laugh and cry, question and understand. Brits aren’t becoming less charitable, they’re becoming more discerning and inclined to investigate the things they love. Disruptive content is a great way to resonate with the public; Standard Chartered resonated with fans with by showing football through the prism of visual impairment and featured the Liverpool manager taking a training session with and without his famous glasses. Charities need to refocus their attention on creating emotive stories and moments that connect with consumer passion points. Whether that be a favourite football team, must-watch TV show or engaging Instagram influencer, there are endless opportunities in placing charity at the heart of things that people love.
Emma Critchley, PR and marketing manager, TLC Marketing UK
Entertainment is a universal language. It captures the attention of everyone, young or old, whether interested in the cause or not. And I don’t think that should change because you need it to get the necessary cut through. It’s the same in any business; you have to find an angle that stands out, grabs people’s attention and makes your message unmissable. It’s only then, once you’ve achieved this, that you have earned the right to sell to them.
Not everyone is going to want to find out about your charity cause or what you’ve got to sell. But in business, if you want people to part with their money, you need to be relevant in their lives. Every charity has an element of suffering at the heart of it so that alone is not going to make you stand out and rarely works. You need to work out your purpose, who you are targeting, who is most likely to part with their money and come up with an engaging marketing campaign to attract them. Probably more so in charity than any other sector.
Emma Derbyshire, content strategy lead, Zazzle media
Emotion is great in all content marketing but where charities go wrong is that they usually concentrate on one emotion entirely: sadness. Often, great pieces of content play with the audience’s emotional state by encouraging two entirely polar emotions within the same piece. This way, as humans, we engage and respond well because we don’t like being confused about how we feel. I’d like to see more of this from charities this year; confuse our emotions to get us talking, interested and engaged.’
Dan Greene, creative director, Wolff Olins
Jumping on social media trends like the ice bucket challenge and using entertainment to increase awareness around a cause is popular, but isn’t right for every charity. However, straightforward education isn’t necessarily the answer either. To increase awareness and drive donations, nuance is needed, either through creating partnerships like aids charity Red or creating a movement like Macmillan – both examples of platforms designed to raise funds and awareness, but through two very distinct approaches.
Ultimately however, the concept of belief is key. Organisations can inspire and galvanise people by demonstrating a bold, self-assured approach to the most complex problems. In a sector – and world – that’s unsettled and unsure of itself, confidence is infectious.
Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke, marketing director, Return
The media is awash with the trauma of the world and we’ve become desensitised to harrowing images; they rarely instigate action any more. But it’s patronising to say that Brits need the entertainment pay-off in order to be charitable, as proven by the rise of charitable micro-funding such as lendwithcare.org.
As an industry, we now have access to more data than ever before, and the tools and capabilities to drive audience-first marketing strategies. Relevancy is key – when you can personalise, localise and target users based on their interests and behaviour, you communicate with them in their voice and inspire them to engage. Multiple micro-campaigns that make people feel that they are part of a small group that could make a big impact will be more successful than a mass media campaign where donors feel dissociated from the end cause.
This article was originally published in the charity issue of The Drum Network magazine series. You can purchase your copy here.
Content by The Drum Network member:
We are the UK's fastest growing, independent, full service agency, helping businesses grow through marketing performance. We have successfully united traditional creative with our digital heritage to provide brands with a full funnel service, using a strategy we call Total Performance. Our services span Programmatic, PPC, Paid Social, Technical & Content SEO, UX, Analytics, CRO, Creative and Strategy.
We are the #1 Agency to Work For in the UK in 2022 according to Best Companies and have consistently been named in their top 10 Companies to Work For over the last five years. We believe in radical transparency with our team, sharing profits with them along the way, and knowing that if we put our people first, they will do the finest work of their careers for you.
We are trusted by new market entrants and global brands alike, with londstanding partnerships with Kimberly-Clark™, Dropbox, The Telegraph, ZenAuto, HomeServe and USN.
Our strength is evidenced by our compound annual growth rate of +35% for the past six years, our track record of long-term client retention, our industry leading staff retention and the awards our client campaigns win.
Some online marketing agencies are all style and no substance. Others are so geeky they forget your customers are only human.
We’re relentlessly improving our digital specialisms to provide maximum return on investment, whatever it takes. ROI may be an over-used term, but we’ll never tire of it, because it’s what matters most.
Our approach to digital marketing is made up of the perfect blend of technology, insight and creativity.
Our technology is like no other, with dedicated, proprietary tools that support the creation of digital strategies in organic and biddable media, content and social media. This allows us to remove the guesswork and conjecture in digital marketing, and plot your pathway to success.
We use this data, as well as our leading digital insight and the expertise of our partners in the IPG Mediabrands Group, to devise remarkable creative campaigns, engaging content and intelligent paid activity that are focused on increasing your brand visibility, growing your audiences and delivering results.
We have adopted this approach in more than 20 international markets for some of the world’s biggest brands, including GlaxoSmithKline, Hilton and Hertz, delivering award winning campaigns that have delivered significant returns on investment.
If you'd like to find out how we can help you grow your revenue from digital, get in touch.
0113 391 2929
Lick Creative is a multiple award-winning shopper marketing agency. We provide the full spectrum of in store marketing solutions designed to help retailers and brands engage shoppers, improve customer experience and ultimately catalyse sales. With our unparalleled experience, insights and analysis we help clients to connect with shoppers at every touch point in their shopper journey.
Part of the Delta Group (Europe’s largest provider of print and digital POS), Lick has offices in London, Leeds, Dublin, LA, Amsterdam and Warsaw. As such we provide a complete end-to-end service, allying creative and strategic planning expertise with muscular production capabilities (over 350,000 sq. feet). We are also curators of a leading Innovations Laboratory - showcasing emerging shopper engagement technologies.
ChapterFind out more
We are the influence agency for brands in sport, health and technology.
We build campaigns that have a real impact on how people think and behave, using a combination of creative PR campaigns, social influencers and strategic communications.
We create stories, content and experiences that generate valuable earned media, harnessing the power of third party endorsement to influence brand perceptions.
We identify the right social influencers and find authentic ways to get them engaging with brands, creating and sharing content that gets people talking.
We work with clients on communications strategy and stakeholder engagement, finding the right way to get their message across and influence the people who matter most.
Born in 2016, we specialise in sport, health and technology, working with brands, sponsors and rights-holders.
We combine the flexibility and hunger of a young agency with the scale and support that comes with being part of the Hanover Group, an international consultancy with offices in London, Brussels, Dublin and Dubai.
Smart thinking that moves people.
TLC Marketing UK
TLC – A rewarding company
We live by a simple philosophy – create campaigns that are rewarding for our clients, not only in terms of business but also in the experience of working with us.
These campaigns are of course rewarding for customers, who get to enjoy experiences and services they really value, at a fraction of the true cost - and for our partners who benefit from new customers and increased exposure.
So wherever in the world you meet TLC - in the boardroom, on the supermarket shelves or at the end of a phone, we aim to make it an especially rewarding experience.
Return was born in September 2008 with one simple aim: to maximise our clients' return on digital.
The digital world has seen extraordinary changes since then but one thing has stayed the same. Our passion for return. Everyone who works here, everything we do, is with one goal in mind, to leverage a greater return on investment for our clients.
From a one-man band we’ve grown to an award-winning, market-leading agency with a team of some of the brightest digital minds in Europe. But that’s enough about us, what’s more important is what we can do for you…
Propeller delivers a joined-up approach to PR, Content and Business Development.
Our clients all have stories to tell.
Our role is to shape and put those stories in front of the right people, and we do.
The work we do builds credibility and awareness for our clients and enhances their positioning for action and growth.
We've been illuminating content marketing, since 2009. Matching innovative content with a targeted audience of value is our mission.
Our promise, as it always has been, is to stay ahead of the market and to lead and not follow the crowd. This is how we deliver the game changing results our clients know and love us for.
Ayima provides specialist Digital Marketing solutions to some of the world’s biggest brands.
Recognised in the industry for our unique tools and technology, we’ve got one mission in mind - to help your brand achieve real, measurable results. Our passionate group of industry experts don’t just innovate, they deliver.
We offer specialised solutions from SEO and paid media, to creative, development and content. Get more from your digital marketing - more awareness, more engagements, and ultimately more conversions.
Let us deliver a strategy to suit your needs.