At last, some gen­uine­ly fresh think­ing in press adver­tis­ing from a charity

This ad works because of its per­son­al­i­sa­tion and humanisation.

Written by
Andrew Papworth
October 23, 2014

It’s so rarely that a charity fundraising advertisement appears in a newspaper or magazine that stops you in your tracks and makes you think: ‘Wow! That’s really original.’ To be honest most of them create a huge sense of déjà vu or, at best, a recognition of some more or less novel twist on a well-trodden path. Here I want to celebrate a real rarity: a fundaising ad that is not only conceptually innovative but is well-nigh perfectly executed, with great art direction, exemplary copywriting and a shrewd understanding of reader psychology.

Pretty much everything is special about this ad. To see it in all its glory please look at the ‘split’ version below.

What’s so special about this half-page mono newspaper ad from Sightsavers? Pretty well everything: from the main headline saying that they will make a blind man see at a specific time in a few days time, to the flashes and sub-head (or in this case a super-head) saying that the reader can watch the ‘miracle’ happen live via their website. It’s special because they have humanised the Malawian blind man in question and brought to life what regaining his sight will mean to him. It’s how they have positioned this particular operation as the first of a planned one million such cataract operations, which take only 20 minutes to perform and cost only £30 each, to the personalisation of the doctor who will cary out the operation and remove the patient’s bandages live online. In addtion they have flagged the UK aid scheme by which the government will double any donations and offered a free text reminder to make sure the reader won’t miss the online ‘miracle’.

The only slight let down is the sole ask of ‘£30 to make a blind person see’. It cries out for the addition of ‘£60 to make two…’, ‘£90 to make three’, or even “£10 per month to make four blind people per year see again’, or ‘think how many blind perople you could make see again by leaving us a gift in your will... Also it’s a great shame that the only way to donate is by the Freepost coupoon. Why not by phone, text, or online as well?

This ad works because of its personalisation and humanisation. Its direct addressing of the reader, its implication that a fairly modest donation can achieve a ‘miracle’ and that an example of such a ‘miracle’ can be seen live online. It works because of the overall arc of its argument from the specific to the general to the reader’s role and because of the way it thoroughly integrates the ad with the website and texting. Again: wow!

To make sure that you can read the great copy SOFII has split the ad in two.

You can visit the Sightsavers microsite here.

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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