Innovation in gifting, with Unicef’s Lucy Sandford!

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018
Paddington's Parcels thank you cards. innovation in gifting.

We took a minute to chat to Lucy Sandford, Direct Marketing Manager of eCommerce at Unicef UK, to get the inside scoop on innovation in gifting and how a new partnership with Paddington Bear will deliver inspired gifts to children all over the world!

So, why Paddington Bear? How did the partnership come about?

Well, Paddington was officially given his new role as Unicef’s Champion for Children in 2017 when his PR agency approached us to partner with them on the Paddington 2 movie.

For us, this was an amazing opportunity. He’s such a well-known and beloved character and we really wanted to tap into that warm feeling and nostalgia.

Plus, Paddington just makes sense as a Unicef ambassador. His kindness, tolerance and perseverance in the face of adversity (and marmalade-related mishaps), make him the perfect champion for children!

So we put our heads together at Unicef and came up with an exciting way to activate the partnership for fundraising.

What was your ideation process? You already had the Paddington Bear partnership, and you wanted to incentivise sales through the online shop?

We’re really lucky to have an in-house innovation team at Unicef UK, which is where the idea of Paddington’s Parcels was born. We also worked with our Creative Content Team and the Paddington team to develop the beautiful assets.

We started by exploring fundraising products for families. Unicef is a children’s charity, but we don’t have many products in our portfolio that are specifically geared towards families. It’s challenging to mobilise this cash and time poor audience, especially at Christmas, so we knew we’d need to come up with something truly special!

We took inspiration from the shoebox appeal that many of us remembered from when we were school kids. We wanted to bring the tangibility of filling a shoebox for a child into the digital era.

Unicef has a great deal of experience with virtual giving (our Inspired Gifts range) – albeit with a different proposition and target market. So we used that as a starting point for an MVP (minimum viable product) approach and created Paddington’s Parcels in about two months!

This is a great digital-first campaign! How does it fit in with your retail strategy? Will we see more of Paddington?

Over the past few months, we have really focussed on turning Trading at Unicef into a digital first, e-commerce programme. We have big plans for growth and, without a high street presence, we’re really pursuing online opportunities.

And, yes. Paddington’s Parcels in 2018 was an MVP, so keep an eye out for next Christmas and an even bigger experience! Who knows, maybe we can even make it work year-round.

And what about the wider organisation – how did you get buy-in from fundraising, innovation and everyone else at Unicef UK?

Fortunately for us, everyone loves Paddington, and once we created some adorable videos and visuals, it wasn’t a difficult sell!

And here at Unicef UK, we have KPIs on testing new products and a “fail fast” culture so it was easy to take people along on the journey. There is no such thing as failure. You either succeed or you learn!

But most importantly… how’s it going? When do we get to see all the exciting results?

It’s going well! For a new fundraising product in its first year, we are seeing very promising results. Plus, we have lots of plans for the future of Paddington’s Parcels to make it even bigger and better – so watch this space!

We’ve also been really pleased to see the comments on social media. People have responded really well to the product, which isn’t always the case when you put new fundraising ideas out there!


Go check out Paddington’s Parcels and grab a thank you card for a child in your life! (Or, you know… yourself). 

Get in quick – it’s only live until Christmas Day!

Open works with Unicef UK across their fundraising programmes, helping to raise millions of pounds a year for children in danger. We absolutely LOVE this new take on incentivising virtual gifts with the much-loved bear.

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