Campaign: Voluntary Sector - ActionAid beats off those Monday blues

Campaign: The ActionAid Happy Bubble
Client: ActionAid
PR team: Golden Goose PR
Timescale: January 2011
Budget: £25,000

Golden Goose PR was asked to create a stunt to support the launch of ActionAid's wider 'What a Feeling!' advertising campaign and to support digital and social media work. The stunt needed to reach existing and potential supporters, and get people talking about ActionAid and its work.


- To engage with 5,000 potential new supporters through social media

- To help change people's perceptions of what it means to support ActionAid

- To boost Facebook and Twitter followers.


Activity began with a survey of 1,000 people by Opinion Matters on what made them feel happy.

The results showed that the 'best things in life are free', which provided a hook for the media story.

The location for the stunt itself was Finsbury Avenue Square, in the heart of the City of London, with a potential footfall of 220,000 on the day. Proximity to Liverpool Street station meant that ActionAid could reach people travelling to and from places outside of London, as well as City workers.

ActionAid and Golden Goose PR created the Happy Bubble, where those 'happy things in life that are free' were offered to passers-by.

The event ran on Blue Monday, 17 January, dubbed the most depressing day of the year, which offered a further hook for the media.

Those passing on the day were treated to free hugs, breakfast, smoothies from Innocent and cupcakes from Crumbs & Doilies.

Space Hoppers and Big Traks were donated to play with and a giant Lego sunflower was one of the focal points for photographs. Free massages and aura portraits were also given away, plus shelter from the relentless Blue Monday rain.

For social media engagement, ActionAid managed a live Twitter feed with pictures taken throughout the day.

The Happy Bubble was registered with GPRS tracking site Foursquare so people using Foursquare with their smartphones near the event were invited to come along for free cake and Mornflake porridge.

Facebook was also used to invite guests in advance. Local radio interviews were conducted live at the event.

The PR team contacted the headquarters of TUT, an independent social media movement based in Florida, which sends a daily 'feel good' email to hundreds of thousands of subscribers. TUT sent an email to all 7,000 of its London subscribers inviting them to the Happy Bubble.


Coverage included pieces in City AM, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, the Daily Express, Metro, The Guardian and i. The story was covered on websites including the Mail Online,, and


On 17 January, ActionAid had 4,447 visits to its website, a 104 per cent increase in visits on the previous Monday. On the same day, ActionAid had 2,565 active users on its Facebook page.


Nothing could revive a PRO's spirits more in the dark depths of winter than a timely reminder that the good old survey trick still delivers a respectable stack of coverage.

Ironically, the best things in life are rarely free for the communities ActionAid works with and campaigns for; more pressing issues than happiness are at hand, such as survival, protection and fulfilment.

But if a happy donor is key to breaking the cycle of poverty in the developing world, then the timing of this creative stunt was impeccable.

The overall campaign is a brave and innovative take on making a difference. It says it is OK to feel great about giving. But did these well-executed PR tactics miss a trick?

As a Liverpool Street commuter, I wonder if the overseas development message got lost, undermining ActionAid's desired happiness positioning.

A clearer, closer connection may have been achieved by bringing positive experiences of the developing world to an otherwise crushingly depressing daily commute. After all, there is a lot to be joyful about, thanks to organisations such as ActionAid.

Although limited in scope, the bubble concept lives well online and is sustained beyond the moment. Insight research will track the campaign's impact over time. What I love is the potential to engage audiences in a debate about the issue beyond a simple stunt. Helping someone in need makes us the happiest, it is claimed. But at what cost?

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