Guide Dogs shifts marketing strategy with 'people-first' campaign

Charity wants to promote its services beyond dogs.

Guide Dogs wants to be known for more than its canine services as it launches a "people-first" brand campaign. 

The charity has set a goal to increase the number of people with sight loss that it supports from 200,000 to 500,000 by 2023. The campaign, created by Karmarama, centres on its five-year "By my side" strategy, which aims to build empathy and understanding for the realities of life with little or no sight.

While the organisation’s services include sighted guiding, children and young people’s programmes, business training and technology, its research shows that it is primarily known for guide dogs. 

A TV ad, narrated by Dame Julie Walters, focuses on the relationship between a father and daughter. Alex Pepper, a former Met Police emergency call handler who lost his sight in 2016, plays the father of a girl who describes her football match as he stands pitchside with other parents. 

The campaign will run for six weeks and include radio, a celebrity-fronted podcast series, a research report, and digital and social content that tells real stories from the sight-loss community.

It was created by Zach Speight and Harriet Wiltshire, and directed by Max Fisher through Outsider. MC&C is the media agency.

Emma Foulds, director of marketing, digital and influencing at Guide Dogs, said: "This exciting campaign is our first that brings to life our ambitious ‘By my side’ strategy, with the aim to support 500,000 people with sight loss by 2023. A stronger brand helps to support income, improve awareness and increase consideration to support.

"Our research has shown that there’s a need to shift the conversation around sight loss away from sympathy towards empathy, and encouragingly it appears the public would like to join us on that journey."