Thanks to New York Times  writer Jane Levere, I was pointed to this print ad campaign from Action Against Hunger (AAH). The first ad features a line-up of paper dolls, with one figure much thinner than the others — but no clear call to action. The second ad features this pizza box with mini pizza inside (much less than you and I are used to eating), highlighting that the 3.5 million children under 5 worldwide who die from hunger on annual basis don’t have enough to eat. Readers are asked to visit AAH’s website (for what?) or text in a small donation.


Nancy Schwartz in Advertising | 5 comments
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5 Steps to a Potent Ad -- rid Gets Attention for Reducing Hospital InfectionTake a cue from this powerful ad
featured in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. The ad, run by the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (rid), urges Journal editorial page readers to take these 15 steps before hospital treatment (surgery is the focus).

Here’s why this ad packs such a punch:

  1. The value to the reader is clear, so readers are motivated to digest content — No one wants to get an infection while hospitalized; while everyone knows someone who has had that experience.
  2. The copy is written clearly, accessibly and succinctly, which is quite different from most medical information.
  3. The ad is formatted for quick and easy digestion, breaking a lot of information into 15 concrete steps, each of which is a manageable chunk (a great example of chunking).
  4. The ad is strategically placed on a page where readers are likely to linger more than on other pages; simply due to the depth of content. So they’re more likely to absorb ad content.
  5. rid is building its brand by urging readers to “tear this out and save life your life.” When they do, they save info on rid.

When you’re out on the deck sipping a cold martini on a hot summer’s eve, hospital infection isn’t top of mind. But then, unexpectedly, it may be. rid’s ad is a keeper for that moment.

P.S. Read this in-depth article on getting your pitch across in 30 seconds or less.

P.P.S. Here’s the full ad again.

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Nancy Schwartz in Advertising, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Social Marketing | 0 comments

More Bang for Your Nonprofit's Marketing Buck -- Bring Your Print Ads to E-News ReadersI was thrilled to receive an email
yesterday from Environmental Defense (ED), urging me to take a look at the print ad they’re running in Roll Call (the D.C.-based daily paper on congressional news) today.  When I clicked on the link provided, I got to a page that engaged me (I’m a donor) and made me feel that the organization is doing great work.  Now I’m ready to give more.

Here’s how ED succeeds in engaging two critical audiences (legislators and citizen supporters/advocates), for the price of a single ad. They:

  1. Place the ad for a specific audience (congressional representatives, senators and their staff members) — telling them that 50,000 ED supporters (most of whom receive their email) have signed the New Patriotism Declaration urging Congress to cap and cut global warming pollution.
  2. Piggyback on the ad campaign via outreach to Declaration signers and other supporters (demonstrating follow through, and competency) — showcasing the ad and explaining ED’s strategy.
  3. Continue the conversation with these supporters, who may not have been involved with ED since signing the Declaration, thanking them for their support and nurturing them as a loyal community rather than a group of individuals.
  4. Update this community on encouraging committee work and pending legislation on Capitol Hill,  paving the way for future requests for support — donation- and advocacy-wise.

Strong double play, Environmental Defense.

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Nancy Schwartz in Advertising, Email and E-Newsletters, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 0 comments

Update — How to Become a Big Give Contestent

I swear to you that just yesterday morning I was ruminating on how to get "Giving" into the mainstream (and yes, the extensive article on giving — What Should a Billionaire Give – and What Should You — in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine is a good start, but realistically reaches only a tiny segment of prospective donors), and realized that a giving reality show was the only way to go.

Reality shows are one of today’s common denominators. And when you want to popularize a concept or practice, common denominator is the way to go.

So you can imagine my surprise when I heard about Oprah’s plan to pay it forward — The Big Give.
The Big Give — the first philanthropy reality show (AND IT’S IN PRIMETIME) — will features 10 people  challenged to take the money and resources they are given and multiply them to come up with the most powerful, sensational, emotional and dramatic ways to give to others. Each week the group will face a "big catch" that will test their nerve, drive, ingenuity and passion. Throughout the episodes, the field will be narrowed through a unique method. The stakes will get higher and higher, with one person ultimately being chosen to have his/her wildest dream come true for making the biggest impact.

The eight-episode series will center on the drama, emotion and magic of making a difference in peoples’ lives. The concept mirrors a recent installment of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in which Oprah gave audience members gift cards worth $1,000 to use for a charitable cause.

Love it! Readers, I’ll be following The Big Give as it comes to life, and reporting back to you. Who’s better to popularize philanthropy than Oprah? The woman has the
charisma, and the market savvy, to do it, and to do it well.

Nancy Schwartz in Advertising, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Marketing News, Philanthropy, Television | 9 comments

My high school English teacher, Mrs. Hunter, despised double negatives. She insisted that anything nearing a double negative failed to communicate a writer’s meaning, and annoyed the heck out of the reader by requiring her to struggle to find that meaning. And when Mrs. Hunter despised something — in her most vocal, dramatic way — you remembered it forever.

Nothing proves her right more than the Ad Council‘s new Generous Nation campaign, heralded by the "Don’t almost give" tagline. Here’s why:

  • The campaign construct
    • Almost giving happens when good thought and intentions don’t turn into actions.
    • Don’t almost give. Give.
  • The problem
    • Huh?
    • Almost, in my book, nears "not" — and so the double negative classification. What are they talking about?

However you classify it, I think this is just a weak campaign. The Ad Council is striving to engage donors and volunteers despite the lack of a current crisis. They are right on target on acknowledging the difficulty of keeping folks active during this down time in an unbelievably crisis-packed few years, and in wanting to engage novice donors and volunteers who were stirred by recent crises to pitch in. But there’s got to be a more powerful way to do so.

When I see that message, "don’t almost give" — I don’t even get it. It takes me several minutes, plus a review of the campaign website to place the phrase in a meaningful context. It’s only when I spend several minutes to review a few of the campaign TV ads that I get it. And that’s much far too much time and effort to expect from target audiences.

Frankly, I’m surprised. The Ad Council has a tremendous record of success in the impact it generates via its public-service oriented ad campaigns. And why not, since the folks who donate their creative skills to campaign development are the best and the brightest in the ad industry.

But they’ve missed the mark with this latest campaign. Television, print, radio and Internet ads launched this week. I’ll be interested in seeing  what results.

But the Ad Council does triumph with some of the engaging features incorporated into the campaign website, including the voiceover that runs during a very effective black-and-white slideshow of opportunities to help. I’m moved by these photos, and the simple verbs than are projected on these images — feed, prevent, help, support…  Maybe sometimes less is more?

Another effective component is that audiences can easily take action immediately, through the site, to:

  • Get involved with charities that align with their interests
  • Find local volunteering opportunities via zip code search
  • Donate to more than one million charities.

Almost there, but not quite, Ad Council. Remember that your campaigns will have the greatest impact if they are concrete, clear and generate an immediate emotional reaction. Don’t almost make it easy for your audiences. Make it easy.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this campaign. Just make a comment below.

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Nancy Schwartz in Advertising, Case Studies, Don'ts, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Taglines | 6 comments

"After 14 Months, South Orange-Maplewood School Staff Are Still Working Without a Contract."

That’s the giant-sized headline of the ad placed by the district teachers union in the local paper. Pretty good, right? In most cases, and there’s no exception here in Maplewood, public sentiment is all for getting teachers back in school and under contract. So there’s no better message to get out there than this one — showing that the teachers’ priority is the students, even if that means working without a contract.

"For the first time in our history, school staff are going back to school for the 2nd year with no resolution," reads the ad copy. Even better, the union reiterates this message in its new tagline, "No contract – still working – always caring."

Could the teachers be any more noble? Good move, South Orange-Maplewood Education Association. But then you lost me with your punchline: "Why can’t the Board of Education settle the contract?"

Come now. We all now it takes two to tango, and two to settle a contract. Thr tagline made me pause, and doubt. And, while processing this jarring message, I realized that the association had lost  credibility in my eyes, seriously undermining the impact of its campaign.

Word to the wise — make sure you have objective readers (not your spouse or colleagues) review messages before you release them. Nothing is more important than audience feedback, even at this late stage in the process.

Had the union deleted or revised its excessive claim, the ad would have motivated community support.  Every citizen would have respected the teachers. Instead, it has generated nothing but skepticism for this citizen.

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Nancy Schwartz in Advertising, Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Taglines | 0 comments

I was shocked to find a smokefree-in-restaurants ad when thumbing through the most recent issue of Restaurant News (my husband hopes to be a restaurateur in his next life). The ad, placed by the TobaccoScam project (funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), features a DC restaurant owner who explains that when he went smokefree, after his jazz performers insisted on it, business increased, rather than decreased as he had feared.

TobaccoScam targets restaurant owners who are so frequently manipulated by the tobacco industry to view smokefree environments as less profitable (warning that going smokefree will cause business to drop, while trying to sell owners on costly, ineffective ventilation systems). This striking series of ads (this one is the 20th) in the restaurant media was launched in 2002. Each black-and-white ad (the color scheme conveys seriousness) attests powerfully to the fact that "big tobacco is lying again." The ads are radically different, in look and content, than every other ad in these publications. And, in a situation like this one, nothing speaks as strongly to the positive outcomes of going smokefree than testimonials from fellow restaurateurs. Way to go TobaccoScam.

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Nancy Schwartz in Advertising, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 0 comments

Frustrated New Orleans residents have taken matters into their own hands, putting up $10,000 for a full-page ad in Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, to plea for stronger levees. As reported by The New York Times, the ad will run Thursday as members of Congress are about to return home for the holidays.

The "Message from Homeless New Orleanians" also reminds legislators that life is not back to normal in New Orleans where many areas remain without electricity or running water. The ad reads "since the breakdown of the New Orleans flood protection system on August 29, 2005, we have lived like refugees in our own country," reads the ad. The residents of Lakeview and other displaced New Orleans communities are sending you this holiday wish in one voice — ‘We want to go home.’ "

The $10,000 ad fee was collected online from Lakeview residents shortly after an October meeting where a common purpose was forged, and strategies defined. Residents have continued to be frustrated by continued delay in rebuilding in New Orleans and lack of responsiveness among legislators in Washington. This strongly-worded ad delivers the message that they feel will get them back home most quickly. Let’s hope it works.

Meanwhile, this is an interesting technique to keep in mind for advocacy initiatives.

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Nancy Schwartz in Advertising, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 0 comments

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