Face-off looms for charity ads

You can picture the scene now in boardrooms up and down the country. Marketers from non-governmental organisations wrestling with the newly approved Committee of Advertising Practice guidance liberating the opportunity to strike out and fight for donor pounds without any degree of apology when citing why their cause is more worthy than that of their competitor.

Head to head: Charity ads can now use comparative information

The continual flight of donation pounds in this sector is well documented, save for the punctuation of the Disasters Emergency Committee appeals as triggered by the recent unfortunate events in Haiti and Chile. So what are the implications morally and strategically for the sector?

Being able to get down to brass tacks with good old-fashioned comparative advertising seems long overdue in a sector less relevant to the tea-and-slippers romantic idea of “Dorothy Donor” as against the reality of today’s charity donor prospects, who are information savvy and better equipped to be evangelical within their peer group. For this audience a rational, easily digestible approach to making a value-based decision beyond the typical charity emotional imaginary has got to be a good thing. Likewise, being able to articulate exactly how my “one-off” donation will make a difference to the recipient is easily more compelling than what is currently the norm, where even administration costs are hidden and itself a paradox in thinking, as spending donor funds on such fripperies as advertising, especially of the big-budget kind, is sensitive to delicacy of execution, especially where newspaper journalists are concerned.

CAP presents new challenges. This is all about striking the right balance, although being dyed-in-the-wool customer acquisition experts, we favour the “go the edge of the line” approach, “and only then pull back”. Measurability will now more accurately reflect the success of rational messaging within the advertising communications. We believe this will be a significant factor in revamping media utilisation within the sector.

For a long time, we have all lamented the increasing ineffectiveness of press, but this could be about to change. Being fleet of foot with campaign optimisation without the ego will be the new paradigm. In fact, wasn’t that where NGO marketing started, albeit in less austere times? Will we see the gloves come off and the unthinkable rear its head? – competitor brand bidding on Google! Yikes, indeed. I don’t paint a new era of “cut-throat” marketing, merely the opportunity to reinvigorate donor acquisition.

“No hidden charges, 100% goes to the recipient. We’re better because we are leaner.” Sounds like a financial services advert? Don’t bet on it.
Who will break ranks first? Let the battle commence.

Colin Gillespie
Chief strategy officer
All Response Media

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