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Game Changing: Nonprofits Go on the Offense

April 21st, 2013

leukemia-lymphoma-psaThrough IridiumGroup and now, OrgCentric, I’ve spent nearly 20 years leading efforts to create brands, increase awareness for mission-based organizations, and assist with creative ideas to fundraise.

Traditionally, my nonprofit partners and client-side managers have taken a passive, even humble, approach to their marketing efforts. In fact, many of our clients working in private philanthropy don’t even refer to their efforts as ‘marketing.’ Their world is one of ‘communications’ — of outreach, of educating target audiences about their goals and achievements. Historically, for organizations we have worked with such as MacArthur Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts and others, they often have no use for consumer marketing tactics to build an organizational brand. It can even be frowned on in certain cases.

Increasingly, cause-based nonprofits are leading the charge with more aggressive tactics, emulating their corporate counterparts in daring advertising campaigns. As reported by Stuart Elliott in The New York Times, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has launched a controversial campaign that boldly declares that a cure to cancer is very close.

In These Ads, ‘Someday’ Is More Than a Wish

ADWEEK: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society New Campaign

Aiming for pure shock value, the theme of the campaign, “Someday is today,” features consumers and headlines reading “Cancer Cured!” in newspapers and other media venues. The PSAs are extensive in reach, with applications in broadcast, print, and across multiple digital channels in six large markets.

Citing a need to be more proactive and less traditional, Lisa Stockmon, SVP of Marketing at LLS explained, “We wanted to be less sort of guilt. We wanted to be less trite. We want to be more part of, ‘You know what? The money that you invest in us…makes an impact and we have been able to change the face of cancer from the work that we do.’”

We’re seeing this approach in corporate advertising as well as the most progressive, action-minded nonprofits. It’s been called ‘disruptive,’ and it appears to be very effective in every instance. My personal view is that this type of approach can work very well to differentiate an organization and generate a level of engagement, but also, it seems increasingly necessary to break through the overwhelming amount of clutter across a dizzying assortment of media channels. The idea is a smart, show stopping punch — designed to arrest consumers’ attention even just briefly and create a memorable impression that deeply connects, that resonates.

This breakaway campaign will no doubt be very effective at building brand recognition and image for LLS, and in time I am certain that other public charities will follow with similar tactics and advertising campaigns. If you could see the desired outcome, the result of your gift, wouldn’t you be willing to chip into the cause?



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This entry was posted on Sunday, April 21st, 2013 at 10:30 am and is filed under Advertising, Brand Image, Marketing, Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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IridiumGroup Inc.

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