Andrew Marsden Marketing director HP Foods
Sometimes you find a campaign idea and execution that you wish you had
been a part of. One example is Oxfam’s pounds 2 per month direct appeal.
The great leap for this campaign is the client’s bravery in agreeing to
sell the benefits of their product rather than feature the problems they
are trying to address.
Traditional charity advertising concentrates on provoking guilt in the
donor about the cruelty and despair in which potential recipients find
themselves. Be it the suffering of animals or people, it illustrates
hopelessness. The problems seem vast and apparently unaffected by years
of effort. People appear impotent to change their situation.
After seeing this type of ad one often feels emotionally raped.
Physically stunned by man’s inhumanity, one is supposed to get out one’s
credit card and pledge. It works for some.
The Oxfam campaign differs. It sells hope. Hope that something can be
done. It sells these benefits both emotionally and intellectually. It
celebrates human dignity, and appeals to the Protestant work ethic in
all of us.
The premise is that ‘people in the Third World don’t want to live on
handouts’ but rather ‘they want the opportunity to work themselves out
The sell is that you can help Oxfam ‘do so much more’ by giving just
pounds 2 per month.
The appeal to logic is almost biblical. ‘Give a man a fish and he will
feed himself for a day, but give the means to catch fish and he will
feed himself and his family for a lifetime’ is a key example. The ads
use strong, clear, repetitive, logical messages.
The executions are beautifully shot. They reveal the emotions of
apparently real people in real environments. Rather than showing
hopelessness, emotion is toned down to show the positive, giving the
impression that all is not lost.
The campaign is mould-breaking. It shows the potential dignity, rather
than the indignity of humankind and allows the donor to believe they can
help. It aims to find long-term solutions, rather than short-term
This article was first published on Marketing