ADCAN 2016: Meet the Charities

May 5, 2016 / Features

By Alex Reeves

A client’s-eye view of the award competition with a conscience.

We see a lot of charity campaigns on TV and probably even more at advertising award shows. With a strong ethical core, they’re often the most compelling pieces of storytelling the ad industry turns out. But there are 160,000 charities registered in England and Wales alone, so inevitably only the tip of that iceberg can access the power of TV advertising.

That’s one reason the ADCAN Awards exist. Supported by a collective of the ad industry’s top professionals, it’s a free-to-enter film competition offering up-and-coming talent good opportunities to do good work for good causes.

Filmmakers answer live charity briefs and are rewarded with industry contacts and workshops. Charities get free promotional films to help spread their messages and the partnering production companies get to see up-and-coming talent.

In previous years we’ve spoken to the founders and the winning filmmakers. With entries for ADCAN 2016 now open, we asked the charity partners for their perspective.


 

Nordoff Robbins

Nordoff Robbins is the UK’s leading music therapy charity. It is a world leader for the training of music therapists working in schools, care homes and hospitals nationwide. Music therapy is about using music in a supportive or restorative way, for people who are suffering from dementia, neurological disability, terminal illnesses and other mental or physical issues.

Brief: Bring to life the therapeutic power of music, so more people understand music therapy and want to donate to Nordoff Robbins. Think about ways to express this with visual concepts, editing and storytelling techniques.

What they want to say: Music helps people come alive.

The Beak Street Bugle: What is the value of advertising for Nordoff Robbins?
Mark Frodsham, Head of Marketing and Communications:
The charity sector is a crowded marketplace. Anything we can do to raise the profile of the work we do is of huge importance. So as a means of getting the word out about Nordoff Robbins, about music therapy and the impact it has on people’s lives, advertising is fantastic.

BSB: What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to advertising?
Mark:
We’re a very small charity with a small marketing resource. We’re very careful about how and where we spend our money. We work with agencies that support us on a pro bono basis. I’ve done that throughout my career at charities and agencies have been more than willing to help. Within the charity space part of the job is to reach out to people within the ad industry and just ask that question because there is a lot of goodwill.

BSB: What are the key benefits for your organisation for being part of ADCAN?
Mark:
For me it’s a complete win-win. You get emerging creative talents who get a good project to work on a response to brief. And for charities it’s a means of producing really great content that can be used to market the stuff they do. Some stuff in charity advertising works to a very specific formula and I’d like to hope that what comes out of this is really exciting.

The GirlHood

In a creative industry that still employs more men than women and pays men more than their female counterparts, The GirlHood are an organisation on a mission to help young women profit personally, socially and financially from their creativity. They seek out creatively talented females, aged 11-24, from diverse backgrounds, and introduce them to learning programmes, content and resources to help them develop as resilient females with their own creative voice.

Brief: Make a rally cry to girls to be creative and stay creative. Encourage them to make brave creative choices in their education and in their careers. Communicate that creativity has the power to effect positive change in their own lives and in the lives of others. Because when girls make culture, they change culture.

What they want to say: Your creativity can fuel your future, with The GirlHood.

BSB: What is the value of advertising for The GirlHood?
Kati Russell, Co-Founder:
I worked in advertising and spent the last four and a half years at D&AD, so I’ve seen it from different perspectives. I left advertising in 2009 because I didn’t like it, but I’ve come around on that. I now believe that it really can be a force for good and can be used to activate positive change. We would love to be able to do it more.

BSB: What kind of advertising or marketing would you most like to do if you had the chance?
Kati:
One line of advertising that we like is aimed at young people and particularly young women.

There is so little awareness of creativity as a career choice. Our mantra is we try and instil the value of creativity personally, socially and economically. And very often it’s seen as a hobby or a nice-to-do subject. But actually the creative industry contributes £77 billion to the UK economy. So there are jobs and it’s growing. And creativity is unlikely to be automated in terms, so there’s longevity there.

BSB: What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to advertising and getting exposure?
Kati:
It’s certainly different when you’re a tiny social enterprise there’s two of us. At the moment we’re only interacting on a one-to-one basis, but if we could interact on a one-to-many basis we could spread our message wider. I’m meeting all the time with the network that I’ve established but that’s just me. Advertising would give us a much wider opportunity and also that gravitas that you get. If you can put together an amazing piece of communication people will take you seriously.

BSB: What are the key benefits for your organisation for being part of ADCAN?
Kati:
As an industry we’re really good at communicating but not doing. We see a lot of discussions but the actual behaviour change doesn’t happen often. So that’s what was exciting about partnering with ADCAN.

Hopefully we’ll get a film that will excite and motivate the young girls it’s targeted at. It’s not about us; it’s about them. So something that can inspire them and have enough power behind it to help them make life choices to be more creative.

BSB: What do you hope to learn from your ADCAN experience?
Kati:
I’m super excited about the people behind it. I ran [D&AD] New Blood, and worked with similar cohorts for the last few years. They have the potential to have some of the most exciting ideas given the confidence because they’re unhindered by any of the realities you get once you get into the industry. You do forget as you get away from it. So that’s exciting.

Streetbank

Streetbank is an online platform, based on the sharing economy - a common sense street-level idea, that rather than buying everything we ever need, we buy less and borrow more. It is super easy to do; sign up, offer what you have to share or search for what you want to borrow. Streetbank leads to new friendships, connected neighbourhoods and united communities.

Brief: Your film can have a big impact. If you can inspire enough people to join Streetbank, you’ll create stronger communities and in turn make the world a friendlier place. We’re not looking for a literal story of someone lending their neighbour a lawn mower. We need more interesting or surprising ways of showing Streetbank’s greater benefit.

What they want to say: Share things, make friends and build community.

BSB: What have your past experiences with advertising been like?
Sam Stephens, Chief Executive:
In terms of getting word out, we’re limited by the fact that we don’t have a budget. We are reliant on donations from our members and from the odd newsletter where we promote another sharing economy or green business and get some money through that. There is no advertising budget. There’s barely a social media budget. So we have to be really creative about how we get word out and primarily it’s through word of mouth and mobilising our members to tell their neighbours about us.

The second way is media interest that this idea of sharing with our neighbours is both old fashioned but also of the moment, so there’s been a bit of media interest and some PR.

BSB: What kind of advertising or marketing would you most like to do if you had the chance?
Sam:
The dream would be really geographically focused. When we get to a critical mass, which is two or three hundred members within a square mile, then StreetBank takes off and becomes really busy. That’s what really makes the difference, that density where people are posting things on a daily basis and others within a square mile are seeing it.

BSB: What are the key benefits for your organisation for being part of ADCAN?
Sam:
Because of the way we don’t have the money to do advertising or to create visual content very easily and it’s so much in our sharing economy ethos – the idea that there’s latent talent that’s not being used and this is putting it to good use. And to be beneficiaries of that is super cool.

BSB: What do you hope to learn from your ADCAN experience?
Sam:
The exciting thing is there is a brief and we’re going to see multiple approaches to it, whereas normally you only see one outcome. So to have multiple minds and a sort of crowdsourced approach is going to be fun.

I’m really grateful to the ADCAN team because I think what they’ve done is truly creative and a great way of nurturing talent but also finding a way of everyone benefiting. I’m enjoying the energy that’s being unlocked through their creativity.

CALM

CALM, or the Campaign Against Living Miserably, seeks to prevent male suicide, today’s leading cause of death amongst men aged under 45. Their goal is to let men know that masculinity doesn’t depend on being unwaveringly strong, unemotional and silent, an image that leads men with depression to avoid seeking help. Through broadening limited views of masculinity and offering support CALM encourages men to reach out and gain the help they need when life is difficult.

Brief: Make a film which disrupts these expectations of masculinity, makes men feel proud of who they really are and open to admitting when they are feeling down. Challenge the stereotypes that say a man can’t be a stay-at-home dad or talk to someone about their emotions and get help.

What they want to say: Men should embrace a broader view of masculinity and have the freedom to define themselves without censure.

BSB: What is the value of advertising for CALM?
Jane Powell, CEO:
I launched CALM ten years ago as a charity. I think its turnover that year was just over £12,000. Year on year we’ve blagged and used creative people to come up with our ads and some of have been magnificent to grow the campaign. This year our turnover was £1.2 million. So we’ve grown 100-fold in ten years and that has been on the basis of the creative industry’s efforts to showcase and raise the issue about male suicide. So for us advertising has been absolutely essential to our growth, promoting the change we want to promote and making sure people know that the helpline is out there.

BSB: What kind of advertising or marketing would you most like to do if you had the chance?
Jane:
Until now the space that we’ve had has been on billboards and magazines and stuff. If we could get onto TV that would be fantastic. But I think the key thing is to get people to look at what we’re expecting from guys in a way that wakes people up and makes them think again. What is this ‘strong and silent’ stereotype? What if we can crush that so nobody thinks that’s what they need to be anymore? That’s a battle of ideas in people’s minds and those images and words and that’s what the advertising industry can deliver.

BSB: What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to advertising and getting exposure?
Jane:
What we try and do as a charity and when we go to brief an agency is to communicate that message but also say you need to bin all your stereotypes about what you’re expecting calm as a “mental health charity” because it’s unhelpful.

A lot of effort is given over to change the way they think they should approach the issue.

I remember once an agency came back with some advertising and effectively what it did was show a guy curled up in a foetal position in a big field and you think ‘that is probably how it feels, probably a lot darker but’, but if you were going to advertise a weight-loss product, would you put somebody on the front who is hugely obese? It’s not where they’re trying to get to.

BSB: What are the key benefits for your organisation for being part of ADCAN?
Jane:
I think this offers an opportunity to take a more global view of the issue. We couldn’t afford to have a pot shot at the whole issue. We’re always focusing on a tight brief. On this occasion if we can allow people to look at what does it mean, what are the pressures? How do we show the world how difficult these expectations are? Stereotypes, injustices and inconsistencies are never visible until you’ve made a change. Until then you don’t see them and they’re not called into question.


Entries are now open for ADCAN 2016 until 28th July. Head to their website to find out how you can make a film for one of these charity briefs and possibly earn yourself a bright future career.

 


 

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