Cause Related Marketing: NSPCC aims to convert abuse anger into cash - One of the largest charity fundraising campaigns ever run has been launched by the NSPCC to fight child cruelty. Ken Gofton reports on its strategy to hit the pounds 300m mark

By now, many of you will have seen the unsettling TV campaign for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), which shows childhood icons such as Rupert Bear, Action Man, Alan Shearer and the Spice Girls hiding their eyes to a soundtrack of screaming parents and whimpering children.

By now, many of you will have seen the unsettling TV campaign for

the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC),

which shows childhood icons such as Rupert Bear, Action Man, Alan

Shearer and the Spice Girls hiding their eyes to a soundtrack of

screaming parents and whimpering children.

The campaign is deliberately provocative and needs to be if the NSPCC is

to achieve its objective of raising pounds 300m, given or pledged, over

the next year - that’s six times as much as it normally collects. The

aim is no less than to change the nation’s culture. It’s out to end

child cruelty within a generation.

Last week, the searing ad from Saatchi & Saatchi burst on to the TV

screens, underpinned by 48-sheet posters on 3500 sites. This week sees

the launch of the follow-up activity. The Royal Mail is delivering a

letter about the NSPCC’s campaign to 23 million addresses - that’s every

household in the country.

New media has not been overlooked - the web site has been updated

( - and this weekend, the charity’s army of volunteers

will take on the mantle of field marketers, taking the message to the

public at 2000 sites in shopping centres and market squares.

With the possible exception of Oxford and Cambridge University appeals,

this is believed to be the UK’s biggest charity fundraising drive. As an

integrated campaign, it’s unmatched.

So what’s it all about? Is it just the NSPCC leaping in ahead of its

rivals, to cash in on the public’s goodwill in the run-up to the


Tim Hunter, the NSPCC’s head of direct donor marketing, and a former

marketing manager at Shelter, insists not.

Devotion to children

The Full Stop campaign is the culmination of several years’ work devoted

to defining its future role. It dates back to an independent national

commission of inquiry, backed by the NSPCC, which reported in 1995 that

’child abuse and neglect can almost always be prevented, provided the

will to do so is there’.

Taking the inquiry report as a starting point, the charity has developed

five ’vision programmes’ to tackle the problem head on. These are:

- setting up an investigative service to run in parallel with the


- promoting quality parenting;

- working with schools and teacher training colleges;

- developing ’children-friendly communities’;

- working for cultural and legislative change.

Delivering against these objectives is going to cost money. ’We are not

going to spend everything we raise at once, but obviously a lot will be

committed to establishing these services, and financing them until our

normal fundraising catches up,’ says Hunter. ’Raising all this money in

one go enables us to leap to a higher level more quickly than we could

hope for by taking incremental steps.’

There are risks, of course. Despite the popularity of the cause, there

is the chance that ’NSPCC fatigue’ might set in. There could be cries of

pain from other charities, which lose out to a burst of donor interest

in the NSPCC. And research has suggested that some of the charity’s

proposed actions, such as trying to raise standards of parenting, are

viewed by some with suspicion and resentment.

But with two years’ careful planning, the NSPCC is confident that it is

taking the right approach. It aims to raise more money than any charity

drive in history, yet in what may appear to be a bizarre strategy, the

idea of giving money is barely mentioned in most of the campaign’s


Saatchis’ ads are designed to shock and raise awareness, while the

follow-up doordrop, developed by WWAV Rapp Collins, is aimed at getting

hundreds of thousands of people to sign a pledge to work with the

charity to end child cruelty.

’We wanted this to be ground-breaking for charity TV,’ says Marian Rose,

the NSPCC’s head of marketing communications. ’DRTV appeals tend to be

formulaic, for the good reason that the established formula works very

well for fundraising. A campaign that is designed for awareness building

gives you more freedom.’

Not total freedom, though. Restrictions on what can be shown during peak

viewing hours mean that the ad relies heavily on the viewer’s

imagination, and is all the more powerful for that. Protracted

negotiations have been needed to get this emotional heart-puller past

the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre. A late cut of the film

earlier this month was ’99% there’, according to account manager Jill

Simpson: ’They’ve approved the script and the scenario, it’s now down to

agreeing the tone.’

Rose tracks the history of the ad back to the early, pre-development

research, when the charity encountered a ’huge amount of scepticism’ at

the idea of abolishing child cruelty. ’Abuse is universally condemned,

but people feel helpless,’ she adds. ’They don’t know what to do, and

they don’t think it goes on near them.

’Given these attitudes, I thought the brief to the agency was very

difficult and complicated. I didn’t see how they could do it. But the ad

really hits the spot. When the creative concept was tested, it was

understood immediately. People were very moved. Everyone who viewed the

focus groups felt the responses were the most powerful they had ever


The charity is being coy about what the advertising is costing, other

than the fact that it is a ’multi-million’ campaign. Although some

volunteer workers may query why so much is being spent on media, Hunter

says the main reason for not revealing the budget is that the charity

has had a lot of help in keeping the cost down. Microsoft, for instance,

is sponsoring the advertising and has donated pounds 1m.

’We have a very clear vision of what is needed to push the issue up

everyone’s agenda, and we’re trying to achieve that as cost-effectively

as possible,’ he adds. ’We’ve got some very good deals, and we’re not

paying anything like as much as we would if we were a Kellogg or a


Campaign provocation

Last week saw the 60-second version of the ad on air and it was dubbed

Outrage Week. The TV campaign is meant to provoke, to raise the question

’what can I do?’. The doordrop provides the answers - sign the pledge,

and volunteer your help as a campaigner, a fundraiser or a donor.

WWAV’s envelope picks up on the creative treatment of the TV ads,

repeating as a subdued background motif the image of nursery wallpaper,

with a teddy bear covering its eyes with its paws. ’Don’t close your

eyes to cruelty to children’ is the stern message. The slogan is also

carried through: ’Cruelty to children must stop. FULL STOP’. The

covering letter from NSPCC director Jim Harding says in passing, ’You

may have seen our recent television advertisement ...’

’I believe the two sides of the campaign really complement each other,’

says Maria Phillips, art director at WWAV. ’The message that came back

from testing the ad was that people felt very angry, but powerless to do

anything. We show them that there are things they can do.’

Saatchis and WWAV have been NSPCC agencies for around 15 years, but have

never been called upon to work so closely together. They have met

regularly and sat in on each other’s research sessions.

’We’ve had a very good relationship with Saatchis on this, even though

the timescales have sometimes been hairy,’ says WWAV chairman John


’There has been an awful lot of goodwill on both sides, whether it was

engendered by the client or the cause.’

Watson is credited by his staff with the idea of the pledge, although he

insists, more modestly, that ’the idea of an action device was already

being considered. I think I picked it up, and moulded it a little’. As

Phillips acknowledges, the word ’contract’ rather than ’pledge’ was

tested at an early stage, but met resistance, because it implies a

’legal binding’.

To drive the message home, the NSPCC is embarking on one of the largest

doordrops ever seen in the charitable sector. The government’s HIV

campaign is one of the few precedents for trying to hit every household

in the country. The Royal Mail has had to pull out the stops to

guarantee to deliver all the letters in one week, half the time it would

normally take.

Getting the packs ready has been entrusted to two mailing houses, WWAV

subsidiary The Production House, and SR Communications.

Nationwide blitz

The reason behind using an anonymous doordrop, rather than mailing named

individuals, is to mobilise everybody, says Hunter. However, the

downside to this approach is that existing supporters can be offended by

a letter from their favourite charity, which starts ’Dear


For that reason, 160,000 ’best donors’ were tipped off in advance about

the campaign. Almost a million others will have received personal

letters this week, just ahead of, or coinciding with, the doordrop. Part

of the long-term planning for this project has been a recruitment drive

over the past two years to swell the number of active supporters and

ensure the database is as accurate as possible.

Unlike the majority, who receive only the pledge document, existing

donors are being asked for financial support. But, WWAV group account

director Lucy Owen points out, care has been taken to avoid the

inoculation effect.

’It’s a common experience. People feel that if they have given money at

the launch, they’re let off the hook. We have had to stress that this

will be an ongoing need.’

Handling the responses is the other big issue. While the Saatchis’ ad is

seen as an awareness-building device, it carries a number for those who

want to react immediately. Broadsystem, one of the UK’s leading

telemarketing bureaus, will field the calls. It is anticipated that

initially calls will be straightforward, and suitable for handling on

automated equipment.

Response systems

The bulk of the responses are expected to come from the doordrop.

However, it will be possible to sign the pledge on the web site. WWAV

subsidiaries The Computing Group and The Production House will record

the responses, capture the data and send out fulfilment packs, according

to whether individuals are volunteering to be campaigners, fundraisers

or donors.

The charity is in uncharted waters. No one knows what the response

volumes will be, although ’best guesses’ have been made, and overflow

arrangements in place, in case they are exceeded. The Production House -

budgeting for 800,000 responses, with at least half requiring

information packs - has turned to its local council, Harringey, to find

storage space.

There is a further subtlety to all these fulfilment plans. ’We have an

existing 24-hour helpline, which is being beefed up because we recognise

that the campaign may stimulate calls to it,’ says Hunter. ’But we also

recognise that people may use every other means of communication. If

they are concerned about some local situation, they may scribble details

on their response form, or mention it when they phone the automated


We have had to put systems in place to watch for this at every


Some things will go wrong; it’s inevitable with a campaign of this


But apart from the fact that the NSPCC might have done better to put

more space between its appeal and Red Nose Day, it’s hard to find


The big question is whether the targets will be met, and specifically

the objective of raising an extra pounds 250m in donations this year, on

top of the pounds 50m it would normally expect. But everyone at the

charity is confident.

WWAV chairman John Watson explains: ’The scale of this appeal is


I have never seen anything like it. It takes time to get your mind round

it. However, if you isolate small pieces and ask yourself if you can be

confident of raising so much here, and so much there, the answer is yes,

and in the end it tots up to pounds 250m.’


Early March: Start of PR campaign through Shandwick Welbeck. Continues

through to Easter, when public address systems at airports and railways

stations will be used to broadcast reminders

March 9: ’Early warning’ letter to 160,000 ’best donors’, alerting them

to campaign and seeking their support

March 15: Updated web site goes live. You can sign the NSPCC pledge


March 16: Three-week TV and poster campaign begins, through Saatchi &

Saatchi. TV campaign aims for 600 TVRs, 85% coverage at 7.1

opportunities to see. Sixty-second ads in first week followed by 30- and

ten-second versions, with a change in the voiceover message. 48-sheet

posters on 3500 sites designed to deliver 55% coverage with 21

opportunities to see.

Some 4000 sites for 6-sheet posters will also be used. Broadsystem

handles phone responses

March 22: Personalised letters to just under one million existing


Royal Mail starts delivery of doordrop letter and pledge document,

developed by WWAV Rapp Collins, to 23 million homes. Press ads also

appear, offering an alternative vehicle for signing the pledge. The

Computing Group and The Production House stand by to handle


March 27-28: Call-to-action weekend, with volunteers manning 2000


Follow-up actions - too numerous to list in detail, with many still in

the planning stage. They include actions by the NSPCC’s corporate

partners (see panel), and a possible direct mail campaign from WWAV to

encourage regular giving.


When the NSPCC says it plans to raise an extra pounds 250m - donated and

pledged - in the next 12 months, the ’pledged’ is a nod toward its links

with industry. Business is seen as providing a fifth of the total, but

the cash will come in over three or four years.

The charity has a corporate development board, headed by Microsoft

chairman David Svendsen. It has been charged with encouraging companies

in all industries to sign a corporate version of the pledge of support.

A toolkit to demonstrate how companies can help has been produced, and

there are opportunities for sponsorship deals and cause-related

marketing packages.

Microsoft illustrates how close, long-term relationships can develop.

From its point of view, the commercial logic is sound. Although most may

see it primarily as a developer of business software, it has an

increasing focus on children and the family, through everything from the

educational toy, Barney the dinosaur, to software for schools, the

internet, and the growth in home computing.

As well as sponsoring the current advertising, Microsoft is holding its

own fundraising day, and laying down a challenge to the IT industry to

get behind the cause. It is also planning an online collection tin, an

online charity auction, and a pledge button on its community affairs web

site. An internet-based child counselling line is also being


’Microsoft has worked alongside the NSPCC for five years now, and we see

our support of the Full Stop campaign as a natural development,’ says

Shaun Orpen, Microsoft’s marketing services director.

’Child welfare affects everyone, and so does technology. By helping the

NSPCC to use technology to achieve its goals, we are clearly

demonstrating its relevant and positive influence.’

Contact Nancy Wildfeir, head of corporate fundraising on 0171 825 2638.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers