CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/CHARITY BRANDING - By handing BHWG a global brief, the WWF is raising the stakes

If you thought the ad market was cut-throat, try working in the

charity sector. In an environment where hundreds of charities compete

for cash, the strength of the brand is crucial.

That's why the UK arm of the World Wildlife Fund is investing a further

pounds 1 million to make sure it stays at the top of the conservation

charities sector. Two weeks ago it handed the direct marketing agency

BHWG Proximity a brief to roll out what is thought will be a global

branding campaign.

Aside from keeping up with consumers - the agency already handles the

organisation's direct marketing consumer fundraising account - the move

also heralds an increased focus on its famous Panda logo, with the

specific aim of targeting the big spenders: corporate donors.

The WWF's head of communications and marketing, Tania Reed, refuses to

confirm the agency's appointment or give details of any new strategy,

but admits that raising awareness among all potential donors is a

priority: 'When don't brands need more promotion?'

However, it is significant that of its pounds 22 million annual income,

45 per cent comes from members of the public and only 4 per cent comes

from the corporate world. It is, therefore, only logical that the WWF

should seek to promote its credentials as a global charity to global


Reed says that the WWF already actively targets companies, but also says

the competition is tough. 'Corporate funding is competitive and we have

very strict criteria about who we'll work with. We don't take money from

companies that are not actively choosing a green strategy,' she


BHWG is thought to have won the pitch against Circus and Leonardo

because it offered expertise on running campaigns for both the WWF brand

and individual projects involving high-profile species, the

organisation's source of 'sexy' hooks for fundraising.

Leonardo's chief executive, Steve Barton, says the WWF needs to keep

both corporate bosses and consumers in the street up to date with its

values and activities: 'It's essential to keep a brand vital. The

challenge comes in choosing the elements to focus on.

'Having a compelling brand makes it difficult for those corporate

funders to say no when you pitch them.'

Perhaps the charity's largest competitor in the UK is the RSPCA but,

with a clear market, it is readily understood by both consumers and

corporate funders.

'Consumers know what the RSPCA does - it has a very clear message.

Promoting a wider conservation message is difficult,' Kay Cooper, the

group communications director at the competitor charity the World

Society for the Protection of Animals, says.

The WSPA has just appointed Lion to develop a campaign specifically

targeted at corporate donors. 'The time has come for us to really drive

a promotion,' Cooper adds.

The WWF's previous campaigns have focused on specific projects, but that

market is becoming increasingly crowded. The WFF is jockeying for

donations alongside specialised charities such as Save the Rhino. SRI

has appointed its own agency, 23red, to help find sponsors for a series

of TV shows.

SRI's events manager, Neil Bridgeland, claims the charity can compete

for donors on a project basis and points to its attempted hi-jack of the

Flora London Marathon - SRI's costumes are now a familiar feature on TV

coverage. However, he adds that the WWF leads the pack.

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