Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Abolish the Penny: a communications strategy for the WFP

I've had lots of people ask me about our Gold winning response to the 24hr brief in Cannes. Here is the transcript, enjoy.

Raising enough awareness and funds to feed 59 million people is no mean feat. In fact, with $500,000 it is near impossible.

A traditional media solution is a) not affordable and b) not the answer. We are operating in an extremely cluttered sector. One that has exponentially grown since the mid nineties so much so, that compassion fatigue has swept amongst our target audience.

As such, in driving awareness and funding, our real challenge is not to shout louder than our competitors but to breathe new life into a tired cause.

As sad as this is, compassion fatigue has led to a desentisation of the world hunger crisis. Whilst advertising with malnourished, sad, sub-Saharan children was once so shocking it drove people to change channels, it is now part and parcel of our media consumption.

The opportunity for us is to reframe our communications and make world hunger relevant to people in the developed world. We need to reframe our communications because people whose daily lives are being affected by the global financial crisis are going to be harder to appeal to than ever.

This leads to our key strategic insight that:
People (especially families) don’t have money to spare but everyone has spare change…. Spare change that they can’t even use.

We’re not talking about the 5 or 6 euro in your pocket, we’re talking about the jar of 1 cent coins you have on your kitchen bench.

Due to the widespread economic downturn, acute monetary awareness has become a pastime for many people. It has led to a diminished consumer confidence and as such a downturn in spending and a trend towards ‘nesting’.

People have gone back to basics and are looking after themselves first and foremost. They don’t have enough money to make large contributions to the greater good.

Further, coupled with rising inflation rates, there has been a devaluing of currency in most developed nations. Indeed, even prior the GFC, the smallest unit of currency in many nations was practically worthless.

The US hold onto their pennies, Australia still has five cent coins and the British are stowing away their pence – but what’s the point? You can’t actually buy anything with this money. In fact our youth have never known a life where they could spend their small change on anything. It goes to waste accumulating in jars and dishes around the world never to be used – until now.

We intend to create a movement to abolish the penny.

We will take something that is essentially useless scrap metal and turn it into something of real value. Food for the hungry.

Using the Fill the Cup creative concept we will rally excitement amongst schools and in turn communities to ‘fill a cup’ with their useless coins to benefit those who need it most.

Once again, we’re not talking about the 5 or 6 euro in your pocket, we’re talking about the jar of 1 cent coins you have on your kitchen bench. The ones that you can’t use for anything.

The strategy is simple – we actually want to abolish the lowest value coin in a currency. Rid people of the annoying copper collecting dust, alleviate retailers from hours of counting and give the coins a purpose in life, to feed the hungry.

Kids are best positioned to understand why we would abolish these coins. In their lifetime they’ve known no use for them. As such schools will act as the heartbeat of the campaign. They will be used as a point from which to disseminate information and the point at which we’ll collect the coins.

The strategy will span one year and will be single-minded about abolishing the penny to ‘fill a cup’. It will come to life across three phases (1. seeding, 2. spreading the word, 3. maintaining groundswell) allowing us to inject new news at each point so to generate awareness via PR and chatter. Our budget will be allocated primarily to the hard costs associated with the collection of money.


dubswine said...

I'm totally down with that.

Lauren C said...

Thanks dubswine. Lets hopw we can actually make it happen :)

Gavin Heaton said...

Good to read the step-by-step process ... makes for interesting reading!