JAMES BRADLEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CONCRETE
’I watch many directors’ reels and have noticed an increase in the
number of charity ads which hardly see the light of day’
Charity projects are and have been an interesting area. From a business
perspective, charity projects offer a greater opportunity to create
emotionally charged and impactful work using generally negative imagery
which FMCG clients would run a mile from.
From a humane point of view, I have been involved in projects where I’ve
been moved by the goodwill of the production staff, crew and suppliers
who have offered their services for free, and where the prime motivation
is not the walk to the podium.
The reason I think that we need to be more responsible is that there is
an increasing abundance of charity scripts which reside in the bottom
drawers of agency creative teams. I watch many directors’ reels and have
noticed an increase in the number of charity ads which hardly see the
light of day because they are underfunded.
Sometimes I wonder if our energies would be better deployed in a
fund-raising activity such as a charity walk, which might be a more
effective alternative in the raising of much needed funds.
So my advice is to first ask for a media schedule and spend. Secondly,
if you have not heard of the charity, run a check on its credentials
through the Charity Commission.
LAURA GREGORY, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, GREAT GUNS
’How many production companies have proudly turned in a job for no
money, only to see their work unappreciated and forgotten?’
Three years ago a script for Greenpeace arrived on my desk. It was a
great idea. We wanted to make a terrific film of it. The creatives were
looking for a features director to bring a PR edge to the project.
After four months of phone calls, Roger Corman agreed to give five days
of his time. Steve Chivers came on board to light, John Smith to edit
and Peter Gabriel to write the music. We cast a hundred children and the
actor, Meera Kumar.
The end result was an impressive and hard-hitting interpretation of the
script. We waited eagerly for the launch. And waited. We received a
T-shirt and a thank-you note from Greenpeace. We waited some more.
That was the last we heard. Client and agency were custodians of a
pounds 250,000 film, at a cost to them of pounds 12,000.
It was reviewed in The Guardian and on Film 96, a first. It won critical
acclaim but was never aired. How many production companies have proudly
turned in a job for no money, only to see their work unappreciated and
forgotten? Who does this benefit? Surely not the good causes or the
For now, we’ve used up our goodwill and are unavailable for charity
PAUL SHEARER, dEPUTY CREATIVE DIRECTOR, EURO RSCG WNEK GOSPER
’With charities becoming business-like, it is incumbent upon us to treat
them with a business attitude’
There was a time when charity ads were a fast-track for young teams to
shoot to stardom. The rules were that there were no rules. Ads were
written to shock even the likes of Gary Glitter. Put plainly and simply,
this was the mutt’s testicles for creatives: a release from everyday
Unfortunately there was one drawback. The only way you could run them
was in Prestatyn at dark o’clock in the morning. For a long time juries
have known this, and now this work receives groans rather than gongs at
most awards. Also, sadly and quite rightly, production companies have
become wise to the ’you make it, we’ll get it to run (cross our hearts
and hope to die)’ approach from creatives.
The process of making a charity commercial should be no different from
making a conventional one. With charities becoming more business-like,
it is incumbent upon us to treat them with a business attitude. In other
words, we should plan a campaign, write it, get it passed by the
Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre, sell it, book some media and
hopefully collect our award. The idea of those involved revealing all
their cards beforehand offers us a chance to make everyone a winner
Even those less fortunate than ourselves.
PAUL GAUNTLETT, DIRECTOR OF EXTERNAL RELATIONS, THE SAMARITANS
’Cause-related marketing has benefits for all. A company that works with
a charity is seen as a contributor towards society’
A production company needs to enter an arrangement with a charity or
agency with its eyes open. If it feels it is being taken for a ride, the
blame is partly its own. It should find out in advance the extent to
which the work is going to be used, to avoid a mismatch of
The Samaritans is fortunate in having a strong relationship with its
agency and media buyer. They are responsible for sourcing a production
company and they embark on this in a very transparent way so there are
Charities have a limited budget and so are dependent on goodwill to be
able to produce costly advertising. We are very grateful for the time,
skills and energy people devote to such an important cause.
Yet cause-related marketing has benefits for all involved. A company
that works with a charity is seen by the public as a contributor towards
society and not just a hard-nosed organisation. It gives them a
much-needed softer edge.
We are also told that many people in advertising clamour to get involved
in charity work. One reason is that it’s different compared with their
usual activities and it gives them a sense of achievement. It’s a
worthwhile project and highly motivational.