Ad excel­lence: refresh­ing and instruc­tive vari­a­tions on an old theme

The ad below from Farm Africa is inter­est­ing in sev­er­al ways.

Written by
Andrew Papworth
May 18, 2014

For a start it uses a technique – most often used by loose inserts – of entwining the very act of reading it into the appeal. A regular user of the genre is Amnesty International with their inserts saying things such as, ‘Don’t throw this away’ and ‘…some people don’t want you to read this’.

Centrepoint have used a related idea with their teaser small ads of a homeless person followed by a large ad with a headline asking ‘Did you see John?’ – or whoever they feature. WaterAid recently ran an insert saying on its cover ’I’ve less than a minute to convince you to support Water Aid’.

This Farm Africa ad cleverly goes a step further by urging the readers to make sure they look at the other side of the page because they are about to cut out the coupon. Brilliant! What chutzpah! What’s more, they carry the idea right through into the body copy. Having set up the reasons they need the money, they say that mutilating your newspaper (by cutting the coupon) could feed the boy shown.

Farm Africa’s attention-getting trick is also neatly woven thoroughly into their appeal. Click image to enlarge.

But this attention-getting trick is also neatly woven thoroughly into their appeal. They state the need, make the case why a long-term solution is preferable to yet more emergency aid and give a well- reasoned example of how just £30 will plant an acre of land with drought-tolerant crops. Even the coupon carries the theme through with its big ‘YES’ followed by ‘I want to help Farm Africa cut out hunger by planting drought-tolerant seeds’. Sometimes such wordplay can annoy but this works.

Centrepoint’s teaser and large ad. Click image to enlarge.
View original image
Was it a mistake to put all their response eggs in the postal basket?

The only possible criticism of the ad is that it relies totally on the FREEPOST coupon for response – there’s no telephone number, no online giving and no text giving. If they decided to put all their eggs in the postal basket in order to stay true to the central idea, then surely they missed a trick. They could easily have said ‘However, if you don’t want to cut a hole in your newspaper, please feel free to donate by phone, text or online’.

A later ad was dedicated to giving by text. However, the strategy of segmenting ads by response method seems to me to be fundamentally flawed.

It’s not very often that a refreshingly new take on off-the-page fundraising comes along and to see one so well-conceived and well-executed from one of the less well-known charities should give food for thought to some of their much better-known competitors.

Three cheers!

About the author: Andrew Papworth

Andrew Papworth

After a long career in advertising agencies, Andrew Papworth has been freelancing as an advertising and communications planner for about two decades.

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