More effective than a guilt trip: Charitable advertising that makes you smile

What has aid ever done for anyone? Save the Children.

There are some topics that aren’t funny and never will be. Poverty and disease are two of those things. When creating advertising campaigns charities have a requirement to highlight the gravity of the situation. This is serious stuff, and how do you get people to understand and consequently donate to your campaign if not by relentlessly hitting them with the facts and the inescapably poor prognosis?

The newest ad from Save the Children’s aid campaign may have found just the way. In the guise of an ‘anti-aid’ campaign, they provide the best defence for aid and charitable giving that I have ever seen, completed with some Monty Python-esque, tongue-in-cheek humour.

That is very important. While, you cannot ever make the subject funny, nor perhaps should you, the way in which people respond to advertising is ultimately the most important thing. People can be fairly adept at desensitising themselves to the shocking visuals and facts in charity advertising, and once they have done that it’s much less likely they will donate. Charities can either respond to this by making campaigns even more heartwrenching and bleak, or trying a different approach. After all, look at the response the Kony 2012 social media campaign had last year. Shame it turned out to be based on very little fact and a good deal of controversy, but the creators tapped into something –the elusive zeitgeist of a global social community– that so many charities would love to do. Save the Children’s approach may not work for every charitable advertising campaign, but it is definitely worth taking note.

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