The Brief

The Brief

Help the Aged wanted the maximum amount of publicity for the launch of

its annual ’Heating or Eating’ campaign, which traditionally comprises a

door drop to ten million homes.

The campaign has been running for ten years but the charity wanted to

take greater ownership of the issue in an attempt to pull in at least

pounds 6m in donations.

Last winter, between December and March, 21,462 elderly people died

either as a direct or indirect result of the cold weather - despite the

winter being relatively mild. The year before the weather was harsher

and the increase on the national average was 38,000.

The Campaign

Help the Aged and Target Direct put their heads together and came up

with the idea of the ’mortuary slab’ picture. To gain further visual

impact, the charity decided to use posters for the first time.

Predictably, the more in-your-face medium caused controversy because of

the rather shocking nature of the image. This was further fuelled when

two national newspapers refused to carry the ads on the grounds of


However, the agency and charity were unrepentant. ’We needed to focus

people’s minds on the issue; this is about people dying,’ says Carol

Hobbs, senior account executive planner and buyer with Target


Media Business Direct was also looking to attract as much media

attention as possible without spending too much because the bulk of the

budget was put aside for direct marketing.

By projecting the image from a boat on the Thames onto the Houses of

Parliament, Media Business Direct believed it could arouse interest and

also make an effective political statement.

Using a boat allowed flexibility. It could move along the river,

projecting the image onto other landmarks such as the former County Hall

and the Oxo building.

The Result

Results were mixed. The image was not that clear on the Houses of

Parliament because lights on in the building distorted the image (see

picture). Yet the media loved the idea and immediately picked up on the

stunt. It received coverage on BBC, ITN and Channel Four news programmes

as well as The Big Breakfast. It was also picked up by the Australian

media, and received coverage in Japan too.

Following the stunt, calls began coming in offering support and

voluntary services. Though donations are currently only trickling in,

Maddy Clay, the charity’s direct marketing manager says the response is


Profile, page 22

Client: Help the Aged

Campaign: Heating or Eating

Agencies: Media Business Direct and Target Direct

Timescale: November 2-16

Budget: Part of a total pounds 900,000 budget


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