DIRECT: Medecins Sans Frontieres hunts agency

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the international humanitarian aid charity, is hunting a direct marketing agency to spearhead its first mainstream DRTV activity.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the international humanitarian aid charity, is hunting a direct marketing agency to spearhead its first mainstream DRTV activity.

The organisation, which provides emergency medical assistance in more than 80 countries around the world, is seeking an agency to build a comprehensive through-the-line communications strategy.

Its only previous TV work has been by retained agency McCann-Erickson, to support emergency appeals.

It has now handed three agencies a brief to develop ideas for responsive TV ads to bring new regular givers into the fold. The budget for the work, which will be combined with extensive direct mail and potential radio activity, is believed to be about pounds 800,000.

MSF head of fundraising James Kliffen, who refused to name the agencies involved, said MSF is seeking to follow the examples of Oxfam and the NSPCC, which have both shown that charity DRTV activity can be successful.

'It is very difficult to make effective DRTV ads, but we need to embrace it as well as paper-based media,' he said.

He added that MSF's relationships with its existing DM agencies, Burnett Associates and Stretch The Horizon, would be maintained, but that the new pitch would look for fresh creative thinking.

MSF's fundraising activity, which began in the UK in 1997, is founded on long-term commitments from a base of monthly givers. Kliffen said the organisation's marketing strategy would now seek to extend that base, and convert occasional givers into regular donors by addressing the issue of lifetime value more closely.

'We have to add value to our relationship with donors rather than simply treat them as a fundraising resource,' he said. 'That involves more sustained and better targeted communications.'

He said the result of the pitch would be known within two weeks.


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