Cordaid: making the rich feel guilty in charity advertising

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One of the toughest categories to work on is advertising for charitable causes. Some creatives see it as an opportunity to win metals. I recall an incident when I was based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We were planning to release a campaign to gather support for acid-burn victims over there. Acid throwing used to be a common thing, usually perpetuated by a jilted lover on an unsuspecting girl. The effect on the victim was devastating both physically and mentally. Anyway, I had come to brief a creative team in Mumbai, with the proposition, ‘It could happen to you’. The attempt was to pitch it to the middle & upper income groups, urging the parents to send in their contribution to the fund. The creative team was totally excited about the project – but lost focus on getting the contributions. They were only interested in getting the ad out, that too in India, as soon as possible. Reason: the likely shock value of the visuals of victims and the  possibility of winning an award. Next thing I know, I heard of an ad being released in an obscure publication in India, with just a gruesome picture of an acid burn victim. The purpose of the ad was totally meaningless.

And then there is this campaign for Cordaid. This won a Silver at Cannes 2007. The attempt is to get the guilt-factor going among the rich, who think nothing of spending $50 on a handbag but never think of sending a fraction of that to charity.




Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Amstelveen

Does the ‘mock supermodel’ take away from the seriousness of the subject? Or does it increase the irony? I think the latter. It may induce the guilt factor among the rich and motivate them to contribute through an easy action of sending a text message.


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