Campaign: Deaf charity wins celeb support for auction - Voluntary Sector

Campaign: David Beckham Christie's Auction

Client: National Deaf Children's Society PR team IncrediBull Ideas

Timescale: June-November 2004

Budget: £15,000

Last June, artist Hugo Rittson-Thomas approached the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) with the idea of hosting a gala event to celebrate the charity's 60th anniversary and raise funds. Rittson-Thomas - deaf in one ear since birth - and the NDCS worked with IncrediBull Ideas to publicise its biggest-ever fundraising event.

Objectives

To generate awareness of NDCS in the media. To gain high-profile support and raise at least £100,000.

Strategy and Plan

To fuel media discussion and coverage while raising maximum funds, the team decided to hold a Christie's auction of art inspired by David Beckham.

Twenty-three renowned artists, including Tracey Emin, David Mach and Holly Johnson, were approached.

Meanwhile, a committee of celebrities and philanthropists - including singer Neil Tennant and 11th heir to the throne Viscount Linley - helped to drum up corporate sponsorship.

To build interest from the national news media and art and society magazines, the PR team provided images of the artworks and access to artists. However, to maintain an element of intrigue, Emin's contribution was kept under wraps until the media viewing on the day of the auction.

Beckham's PR adviser Simon Oliveira previewed the auction and provided NDCS with a signed shirt and quote from the England football captain.

Alternative picture opportunities were provided by the attendance of Posh and Becks lookalikes.

Measurement and Evaluation

The auction secured 12 items of broadcast coverage, including live reports from Christie's on BBC London News and Radio 5 Live. The event also featured on Wake Up To Wogan, LBC News, Capital FM, talkSPORT and BBC2's See Hear.

Hello!, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, the Daily Express, the Daily Sport, The Independent, The Guardian and Metro followed the auction, with all coverage mentioning NDCS.

Results

The event sold more than 300 tickets and NDCS raised over £140,000 on the night. The auction provided the charity with a number of high-profile supporters and potential corporate donors, whom it plans to involve in future events.

Independent reporter Jonathan Brown says the auction ticked all the right boxes for the media and looked at 'a cliched subject in a fresh and interesting light'.

He adds: 'The idea dressed up really nicely, making a good double-page spread, with great images and strong personalities.'

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