CAMPAIGN CRAFT: FORUM - Are production companies being exploited by charity jobs?

JAMES BRADLEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CONCRETE

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

production companies.



For now, we’ve used up our goodwill and are unavailable for charity

work.





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

working life.



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

expectations.



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

no misunderstandings.



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.



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