Red Cross: 'Crisis' ad is a compelling and potentially effective way of repositioning the charity

It's well accepted now that marketing in Britain's big charities is world-leading and every bit as prestigious as marketing in a huge retailer or FMCG company.

Red Cross: chilling and beautifully shot film is a tour de force of writing
Red Cross: chilling and beautifully shot film is a tour de force of writing

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The days of charity advertising being seen primarily as a vehicle for agencies to win creative awards are long gone.

So a new piece of work from the Red Cross needs to be subject to the same hard-nosed rigour we would apply to ads from Tesco or P&G.

In the new Red Cross ad, the charity’s cause is personified as a sinister young woman walking with a dog, talking about the various kinds of damage she will cause in the aftermath of a car accident or medical mishap.  It’s compelling and chilling, and for the brief (which I assume was something like make people see our charity begins at home, not abroad) is a potentially effective way of moving the charity off the foreign section of the TV news and into your back garden. 

It is a great piece of film, beautifully shot and a tour de force of writing.

But I have two nagging questions.

Firstly, after talking through her litany of threats, her punchline is "I am a crisis".  This troubles me.  I’m not sure that’s the quickest association with the Red Cross.  It’s a bit too abstract, and fails to give the ad the urgent punchline it needs.  It also feels like they’re trying to do two things at once (move their association from medical help to support in a ‘crisis’ and get people to see they do as much in the UK as they do abroad), and that always runs the risk of neither succeeding.

Secondly, I’m not really sure what I’m meant to do after seeing this.  The endframe (on screen for a full 3 seconds) has a tastefully art directed phone number and website in a font size normally reserved for terms and conditions (and the mystifyingly intricate url, as though none of the marketing team knows how Google works).  So I assume it’s not got any response targets associated with it.  I just hope that they have a strong DR campaign running in other media to make their investment worthwhile, as brand equity isn’t much use when someone’s choking on a sausage.

Brand strategy verdict: 7 out of 10

Brand strategy verdict?  Stunning, compelling film (already pushing half a million YouTube views).  Nagging doubts about effectiveness.

Adwatch (Oct 31) Top 20 recall: Red Cross
Latest Oct-24 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1= (–) Argos  CHI&Partners/
1= (–) eBay  Tribal DDB
3 (–) Littlewoods  St Luke's/Carat 38
4 -7 Plusnet  Karmarama/Maxus 37
5 (–) SCS Furniture  Martin Tait Redheads/
Martin Tait Redheads
6 (–) Red Cross  Leagas Delaney/
7 (–) Diet Coke  Wolkoff & Arnodin/
8 (–) WH Smith  DLKW Lowe/Carat 28
9= (–) Currys/PC World  M&C Saatchi/
Walker Media
9= (–) L'Oreal Excellence Crème  McCann Erickson/
11 (-) Harveys  HMDG/MediaVest 26
12 (9=) Santander  Havas Worldwide/
13= (-) Sainsbury's  AMV BBDO/PHD 24
13= ('34) Asda  Saatchi & Saatchi/
15 (-) Wickes  MWO/Carat 23
16 ('29) Tesco  The Red Brick Road/
17 (12=) Morrisons  DLKW Lowe/MEC 17
18 (-)  Contagious Content/
TCS Media
19 (12=) Dreams  Re:production/
20 (-) Maybelline (Superstay)  McCann-Erickson/
Zenith Optimedia

Webwatch (Oct 31) Top 20 recall: Red Cross
Latest Sep-26 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1 (–) Netflix  In-house/MEC 30
2 (–) British Gas  Waste Creative/
3= (–) Money Advice Service  DLKW Lowe/M4C 19
3= (2=) ING Direct  BMB/PHD 19
5= (–) Ladbrokes  SapientNitro/
Walker Media
5= (–) Tesco Personal Finance  In-house/
Arena Media
7= (–)  In-house/
7= (–) The Sun  In-house/M/Six 15
7= (–) Barclays  Dare/Maxus 15
10 (–)  In-house/In-house 14
11= (-) Boots (No.7)  Mother/OMD UK 13
11= (-) Orange  Publicis Chemistry/MEC 13
11= ('7) 3 mobile network  BPL/Mindshare 13
14 (-) Marks & Spencer  In-house/In-house 12
15= ('5) Google  BBH/Essence Digital 10
15= (-) YouView TV  Adam & Eve DDB/
17 ('9) Tesco  Harvest Digital/
Harvest Digital
18= (-) Blackberry  Vivaki Solutions/
Vivaki Solutions
18= (-) Felix  JPMH/Mindshare 8
18= (21=) American Express  Ogilvy One 8

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