Children’s Promise is a joint venture between the New Millennium
Experience Company and Marks and Spencer. Under the initiative everyone
in the UK was invited to donate their last hour’s earnings of the last
millennium, either individually or through their company’s payroll.
Children’s Promise was presented to M&S by NMEC as an idea with a strong
community element.M&S pledged to cover all operating costs and donated
pounds 1 million to start the fund. An alliance was formed with seven
children’s charities: Barnardo’s, BBC Children in Need, The Children’s
Society, ChildLine, Comic Relief, NCH Action for Children and the
M&S regularly invests pounds 10 million in community projects and felt
that marking the new millennium iwith a new project would position the
company as forward-thinking. The main aim was to increase people’s
awareness of children’s needs and rights through an alliance of
M&S also aimed to encourage those who were not working to donate.
Strategy and Plan
It was decided that groups should be established to maximise
A management structure was set up to drive and implement an integrated
fundraising and communications strategy. A steering group, comprised of
one senior representative from each charity, NMEC and M&S was
established and five working groups were set up to support the campaign
in different areas: communications, fund-raising, volunteering, child
services and finance. A web site at www.childrens-promise.co. uk. was
also set up to provide information.
The strategy was broken down into key phases, and from December 1998 to
January 1999 focused on initial employer awareness. The advertising was
launched on 1 December 1998 and regional radio interviews were generated
by the PR team.
From January to March 1999, key trade press were targeted to drive
employer sign-ups using examples of early supporter companies and photo
All sectors were covered and payroll managers were targeted via specific
publications and trade shows.
From October to December 1999, the PR campaign revolved around
celebrities giving an hour of time to encourage the public to give an
Every regional paper was given tailored articles about the need in their
area, the local celebrities and companies involved. A major regional
radio interview programme was initiated which included senior charity
Measurement and Evaluation
Full measurement and evaluation will not be complete until the campaign
has announced the final total raised, as companies and individuals can
still donate money.
Coverage appeared in all regional newspapers, key trade press and on
regional radio stations. Television interviews focused on endorsements
from supporting celebrities such as Michael Parkinson on Breakfast With
Frost and Brenda Blethyn on GMTV.
The final amount of funds raised will not be known until well into 2000,
but pounds 14.5 million has been generated so far. According to M&S,
national awareness of Children’s Promise now stands at 55 per cent. The
campaign has signed up 4,500 companies, representing over eight million
employees, with more than half of those companies being new to payroll
Client: Marks and Spencer and the New Millennium Experience Company
PR Team: In-house, Countrywide Porter Novelli (Phase One and Scotland),
Freud Communications (Phase two), Anderson Kenny (Northern Ireland)
Campaign: Children’s Promise: The Millennium Final Hour Appeal
Timescale: Launched June 1998 - ongoing
Budget: Sponsored as part of M&S’ pounds 12 million investment in the