Aide et Action: press ads/thank you methodology

Exhibited by
Pierre-Bernard Le Bas.
Added
June 20, 2012
Medium of Communication
Press advertising
Target Audience
Individuals, corporations
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family, international relief / development
Country of Origin
France
Date of first appearance
1981

SOFII’s view

Aide et Action started a fundraising revolution in France when its simple, direct proposition press advertisements began appearing regularly in the French press asking members of the public to sponsor a child living in poverty overseas. The ads were based on ActionAid's prior successful experience in the UK so their success was perhaps not surprising, but where Aide et Action was spectacularly successful was in consistently securing advertising space from the French media at little or no cost. As a result, Aide et Action grew rapidly.

Summary / objectives

To launch a child sponsorship organisation in France, extensive free or 'pro bono' press space was negotiated through personal contact or using directories. In December, handwritten thank-you notes for the space (without any ask) were sent to 200 members of the press in India during a field visit by the NGO's CEO. In January, a couple of pictures from the field visit and a formal ask were sent to the same members of the press and resulted in another 50 immediate offers of free space. That 'major donor' approach resulted in more than 500 new child sponsors with a more than five-year lifetime value.

What's really significant here is the way that Aide et Action's CEO cultivated and encouraged press involvement and support, so that they were were only too willing to help with donations of free advertising space.

Background

This was a young French NGO, without any financial means to do direct mail or buy space, using a 'major donor relationship' approach with the press.

Influence / impact

Aide et Action recruited hundreds of new child sponsors at very little cost.

Costs

Very minor – 200 cards, duplication of pictures, stamps.

Results

Around 500 sponsors with a five-year lifetime value at 1200 French francs per year (about €180).

Merits

A simple idea for 'start-up NGOs' based on true donor relationship building. What's really significant here is the way that Aide et Action's CEO cultivated and encouraged press involvement and support, so that they were were only too willing to help with donations of free advertising space.

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Aide et Action were not only able to negotiate free space, they also frequently obtained useful editorial alongside their ads too.
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Aide et Action testing of off-the-page direct response advertisements.
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Split testing was always an important activity. As these results show, the response to different styles could vary considerably. It’s an old direct mail truism that you can’t test more than one thing at a time. The ads shown are testing different versions of the same advertisement. But in other situations Aide et Action also tested working with professionals, their name and their product, media, use of coupon and any other component that might influence their response.
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Press ad from Aide et Action’s campaigns in the 1980s.
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Press ad from Aide et Action’s campaigns in the 1980s.