The right to play

Friday, April 3rd, 2020
Three weeks ago we were at Unicef. It was a day after Open had trialled working from home. It seems like a year ago. We talked about whether schools would close and whether there would be a lockdown. What this would mean for children?
 
We talked about what life would be like in ‘lockdown’ Britain and what Unicef could do to help children and their families. 
 
Over the next couple of days our teams talked and came up with some great ideas. Many of them were linked to offering free screen time content, because that is what we thought would be needed…
 
At this time a very good decision was made. WaitDon’t React. Respond.
 
Then the UK went into lockdown and life changed for us all. 
 
Attention turned to our families, neighbours and friends. Those close to us who need our care and support, those who we have never met ‘locked in’ – frightened and alone, and those who are putting their lives at risk everyday keeping the NHS, emergency services and our infrastructure going.
 
At Open we got busy developing emergency appeals for charities and the NHS whose frontline services were struggling to keep up with demand, and Unicef moved swiftly into their rapid response protocols. 
 
Meanwhile a very small team of Unicef and Open staff continued to think about an offer for young children and their families. Unicef sent out a short survey asking parents about their first few days of lockdown.  
 
And this is what they told us. 
 
“We don’t need more screen content. We certainly don’t need more educational resources and activities. We don’t all have screens, we don’t all have bandwidth that can handle everyone on line. We need ideas that kids can do away from screens, that are fun and quick to organise. That gives them time to relax and play and us time to get on with life and work.” 
 
And Unicef responded.
 
“Don’t worry, this is on us. Everyday, all round the world we help children in crisis, often without screens or internet. This is what we do. We make sure that children have the space, the resources and the right to play. We have great activities that we will send to you. We are here for children in crisis”.
 
 
Yesterday they were joined by friends at The Kite Factory to do a very rapid sprint that brought that idea to life. And today it goes live.
 
Not bad for a couple of weeks in lockdown…. 

Campaign Planning IRL

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

Late last year, the NSPCC asked us to pitch for an irresistible job – a through the line, fully integrated, highly responsive campaign to help reposition them in the hearts and minds of the public. 

Not such a tall order, we thought, given that they pretty much invented this stuff. Twenty years after Full Stop launched, it’s still displayed on the altar of campaign success to be gazed upon with awe and envy.

But we knew right away we couldn’t just do the same thing again. We needed a campaign with relevance for a new generation of parents who are raising kids in a changed world of smartphones and social media. 

Thankfully, when Childhood changed,  the NSPCC changed too. 74% of Childline counselling services now take place online rather than over the phone. We quickly realised this was the story we needed to tell, and we were delighted to be appointed by NSPCC to tell it.

Thus was born KIDS_IRL. If you’ve not seen it, take a look at the response film.

At the heart of the creative is the idea that what we see online isn’t always the full story. Behind the emojis and filters, too many children are still suffering. And some of them are taking their own lives, in real life. In fact, the NSPCC speaks to 60 children every day who are having suicidal thoughts and feelings. 

We had an important, relevant story to tell – but we still needed to know where to tell it, and who to tell it to. Working closely with NSPCC’s brand, press and fundraising teams, we developed a campaign strategy and plan and a full audience persona. All our insight told us that this audience want choice in how to help, so we created a campaign with a range of ways to engage. You can give today, give each month, you can badge yourself or simply find out more. 

So much of what makes integrated campaigns work goes on behind the scenes – engaging with senior stakeholders, the rapid turnaround of new creative, the detail of journey planning and the agile project management that holds it all together. 

It’s the ultimate project for collaboration.  It’s not enough to integrate your media. A team who know and trust each other is essential to success. The NSPCC team have been a dream to work with. Quick, flexible, consistent, the best kind of challenging and ready to be bold. 

I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved together. An insight-led campaign with creative cut through. An honest telling of the story of childhood in 2020.

Amy Hutchings

Strategy Director

 


Is Your Checkout Burning Money?

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

If you don’t want to read the next few paragraphs and suffer any more ham-fisted memes then here’s the headline. Asking people for loads of data that they don’t feel like giving you (at least not yet) is annoying for them and probably destroys a ton of value in our sector. And we’ve got evidence.

I can’t post the actual numbers publicly because they’re not mine to share in that way. But if anyone wants to catch up for coffee, we can show you  graphs that demonstrate pretty conclusively that focusing on taking people’s money rather than generating a whole bunch of contact details results in the following:

  • Slightly higher levels of conversion to Regular Giving
  • Slightly higher value regular gifts
  • MUCH higher numbers of one-off cash gifts
  • MUCH higher value cash gifts

As a consequence, we obviously collected fewer postal addresses relative to the number of donations. But we got everyone’s email and, fascinatingly, over half of the people who gave cash using our super-frictionless checkout agreed to store their card details in case they wanted to give again.

In short, our client raised a lot more money by simply letting people donate when they hit the donation page – rather than insisting they first do things that bore and annoy them. And the majority of those people expressed some indication that they’d give again.

Now before anyone who’s known Open for a while calls me out on this, I’m well aware that this is a bit of a U-turn for us. We used to be big advocates of getting as much data as we could because, as Direct Marketers, it’s how we do our job. It’s how we turn impulsive acts of generosity into lasting engagement with the causes we work with, right?

But the fact is that not everyone wants to engage – perhaps because they’ve not particularly enjoyed being ‘stewarded’ in the past.

More to the point, if we’re going to inspire people to give again then we’re probably best off i) trying to do so in the same channel they came to us in and ii) making the experience really, really easy.

I’m not advocating giving up on Relationship Fundraising and turning giving into the kind of thoughtless button-pushing with which we summon cabs, food, movies and pretty much everything else we buy online. But based on what we’ve seen in recent months, it might be a good idea to give people what they want and see where we can take it from there…

James