NSPCC shuns traditional DRTV approach

NSPCC is shunning the “sad images of children” charities often use in direct response ads in favour of a “more modern” approach it hopes will raise awareness of ways to spot and prevent child abuse.

NSPCC contrasts innocence of a newborn with tales of abuse.

The ad, created by Inferno, features newborn baby ‘Amy’ in a hospital crib accompanied by a voiceover of the girl describing what has happened to her. Amy states: “This is me before the shouting started”.

The imagery is designed to contrast the innocence of a newborn baby with the abuse suffered by the child later on.

Much of the organisation’s previous advertising has focused on what to do if people suspect child abuse, and how to help children who are the victims.

NSPCC wanted to modernise the way it appeals for donations as some of its most successful fundraising ads still airing on TV are between seven and 15 years old and becoming less effective as people are familiar with them.

Lisa Williams, NSPCC donor recruitment manager says: “This is the first ad thats trying to engage and get an emotional response from people without using the sad images of children that all charities use. The imagery is beautiful and the voiceover draws you in.”

“It’s not a soft issue that we deal with. Prevention is woven into everything we do but this ad makes it very clear. Nothing is as innocent and beautiful as a new born baby. It’s not a move away from ‘shock tactics’ although we don’t like that terminology, because it’s not an easy thing to talk about. Child abuse is shocking. The difference is it’s a more modern looking approach.”

The ad launches on Easter Monday (1 April) and is backed by a Brian Eno track.

Separately, NSPCC is running its first seasonal Easter appeal using outdoor and press ads asking people “to be a good egg at Easter” and donate £4 to help fund its Childline support service, as it looks for new opportunities to encourage fundraising.

Rosie Baker profile


Donations across the charity sector have fallen 20 per cent in the last year which means it’s even more vital for charities to find ways to encourage new supporters to donate or appeal to lapsed donors.

Tugging at the heartstrings and shock tactics are effective ways to appeal for donations and while that isn’t about to change, charities must be more imaginative in the way they get their message across.

NSPCC’s core message is the same today as it was when it was founded in 1884 and while NSPCC claims its donations have remained fairly stable, there is a need to refresh the way it talks about its cause because callous as it sounds even the most hard hitting and effective ad loses its edge over time.

The images in NSPCC’s Amy ad may not be shocking, but the contrast of the purity of a newborn and the base violence the child is subjected to offer a more subtle approach that makes audiences consider the implications. It is less banging heads, more reflective, and therein lies its power to drive donations.

93% of charities are experiencing a squeeze on fundraising. Source: Institute of Fundraising March 2013

20% – Donations to charity fell by 20% in real terms during 2011/12. Source: Charities Aid Foundation Nov 2012

£9.3bn – Estimated total donations to charity in 2011/12, down £1.7bn on 2010/11 Source: Charities Aid Foundation Nov 2012

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