Agencies can tackle global issues by joining together for a good cause

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Why can't agencies join forces for a good cause?

Christmas is a particularly tough time for anyone on the streets. It’s cold, dark and wet. People who walk past are in a festive spirit and shops and homes are adorned with fairy lights – a constant reminder that you have nowhere to go. We all want this to change but we are under the impression that if charities cannot get rid of the issue, then there’s nothing else we can do.

During a discussion with a lot of agency folk who work with charities, either as clients or on a pro bono basis, the topic came up of whether agencies could come together and combine their skills to help them achieve their objectives. There was a silence as everyone thought about the prospect of sharing a client, and in conclusion the answer was a unanimous ‘no’. Ultimately, it would be down to the charities to make the first collaborative move.

But agencies are the ones with the creative flame and campaign experience. So, with the sources and contacts to go digging through, why not make the first move?

Think outside the brief

Last year, we at TLC put our heads together to see what we could do to support homeless people at Christmas. We decided to gather a collection of warm clothes and toiletries, then wrap up Christmas presents and hand them over to SCT, a charity dedicated to helping homeless people get back on their feet through rehabilitation workshops.

One of the major advantages agencies have when supporting charity is the fact we have close relationships with lots of different brands, often across a variety of sectors. In addition, agencies have real knowledge of each brand’s personality and interests, so it’s easy for us to think of client brands who might be interested in supporting a particular cause.

Having worked with cosmetics giant L’Oreal, we figured it would be interested in helping out with our Christmas gifts idea. After a few emails it told us it would be more than happy to donate a range of its products. What we didn’t anticipate was a generous six palettes of good stock it no longer sells.

One Friday afternoon we ‘elved it up’ in our boardroom wrapping up little bundles of nostalgia (remember Fructis?) and hopped in our Addison Lee shaped sleigh to SCT. The staff at the charity were overwhelmed with gratitude for the effort we had gone to. That difference was made with just one client, with a few shampoos and shower gels. There is so much more that could be achieved to help charity by using our resources.

Be the bigger agency

There is an untapped opportunity where agencies could do more. We have powerful connections with the world’s biggest brands who, for the mast part, have stock that for whatever reason they cannot sell. It doesn’t take much to just send an email and ask. At the very least they can decline, but in the knowledge that they are working with an agency with a conscience. At most, they could love your initiative and donate to your cause, leading to a closer relationship and more business together.

Do It Day is renowned for The Drum bringing agencies and charities together for 24 hours of pushing for a cause. It is a day that is hugely successful because it makes a staggering difference with innovative ideas, so why stop there?

If you want to join us, we’ll be enjoying a flat white, formulating a marketing plan and strategy for the SCT’s not-for-profit cafe Paper and Cup.

Emma Lloyd is PR and marketing manager at TLC Marketing UK.

This article was originally published in the charity issue of The Drum Network magazine series. You can purchase your copy here.

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