Monday, May 10, 2010


Promoting a charity is a much more complex process than promoting a

product, service or brand. More so than a commercial business, a charity

has to be seen to be getting value for money for its advertising campaign,

otherwise it will be accused of wasting resources. However, like any other

organisation, charities have to promote awareness, of both themselves

and the causes they fight. They are often dealing with taboo areas of

society, circumstances that audiences don't really want to read about, and

the charities cannot be accused of glamourising their subjects. They must

not veer too far towards deglamourisation either charities

have come under fire for using excessive and negative stereotyping in their

advertising (especially in the representation of disabled people, or disaster

victims). Complaints flood in to the Advertising Standards Authority if it is

felt that an ad is too shocking, too controversial or too frightening.

Charities are also reliant on finding unique selling points that are bad, and

that are happening to other people a long way from the aspirational

hopes keyed into by other advertising. Nonetheless, charity advertising is an innovative and creative field. Charities and ad agencies work hard within the restrictions imposed upon them to create ads that will provoke discussion as well as donation.

THE 107m Americans who tuned in to watch the Super Bowl on February

7th did not see any advertisements for Pepsi. Instead of spending $20m

on a handful of 30second spots, the firm decided to give that amount

away. Under the slogan "Refresh Everything", the Pepsi Refresh campaign

asks the public to vote online for charities and community groups to

receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000. A few days before the

game its archrival, CocaCola, was also bitten by a charitable bug. It

promised to give $1 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America every time

someone watched its Super Bowl ads on its Facebook page, up to a

maximum of $250,000.

Pepsi Refresh is probably the most prominent example so far of "cause

marketing"—trying to win customers by ostentatiously doing good. Other

recent examples include Chase Community Giving, in which small charities

competed to win $5m in donations from JPMorgan Chase, and American

Express and NBC Universal's "Shine A Light" programme, which awarded a

grant of $100,000 to a small business chosen through its website.

Marketing people say consumers are increasingly trying to do good as they

spend. Research in 2008 by Cone, a brand consultancy, found that 79% of

consumers would switch to a brand associated with a good cause, up from

66% in 1993, and that 38% have bought a product associated with a

cause, compared with 20% in 1993. Rather than try to make products that

can be marketed as ethical in their own right, such as "fair trade" goods,

firms are increasingly trying to take an ordinary product and boost its

moral credentials with what one marketing guru calls "embedded

generosity". The fad for online competitions to award the handouts also

appeals to another trend, socalled "slacktivism", whereby people are

turning to the internet to give their consciences a boost without doing

anything more onerous than clicking a mouse a few times.

JPMorgan Chase claims its campaign was not marketing, but simply an

attempt to manage its existing corporate philanthropy more imaginatively. If so, its marketing staff are missing a trick, given that around 2m people signed up to vote

on Facebook, many of whom were not existing Chase customers. Moreover, the favourable headlines generated by Chase's $5m outlay contrasted strikingly with the

grudging reaction to Goldman Sachs's launch around the same time of a

$500m campaign to support small businesses. Although the public likes online popularity contests, they can have unintended consequences. Chase, for example, caused a fuss by excluding a prolife group and an outfit that wants to legalise cannabis from its competition. Moreover, many firms see virtue in tying themselves to a

particular cause. Ten firms, including Gap, Apple and most recently Nike,

have deals with (RED), a scheme fronted by Bono, a rock star, to raise

money to fight AIDS. It has raised $140m so far, despite fears that, as

Susan Smith Ellis, its boss, puts it, "it would be just a big launch on Oprah

then never heard of again." Equally, Pepsi's efforts to promote healthy

lifestyles while selling healthier products and CocaCola's

various initiatives to protect water supplies in developing countries are critical to the pair's future. Refreshing everything, in contrast, is a more nebulous goal.

Obituary: Sir Percy Cradock, ambassador to China

Sir Percy Cradock, ambassador to China, died on January 22nd, aged 86.

When the registry filled up with smoke, and he realised the building was

on fire, Percy Cradock knew it was time to leave. The date was August

22nd 1967. For months, both tension and noise had been gradually

increasing. Drums, gongs and loudspeakers blaring revolutionary songs

had made earplugs standard issue in the British Mission in Beijing. The

diplomatic round had gone on much as normal; but dinner with the Danish

chargé d'affaires, amid the gleam of silverware, had also featured scenes

outside the window of people being dragged out of buses and beaten in

the street. Now mobs of Red Guards were storming the mission as Mr

Cradock, then political counsellor, and the rest of the staff retreated. There

was only one thing for it. He raised his arms "in a generally reassuring

way" and cried, "We're coming out." Some would call it surrender. Mr Cradock knew, on the contrary, that it was the only realistic response. Confrontation would be useless. Besides, having made that concession, he went no further. He was asked by the

Guards, as they beat him round his back and shoulders, to cry "Long Live

Chairman Mao!" He refused, "and fortunately the demand was not

pressed." Forced to bow his head in the ritual kowtow, he kept trying to

raise it. He was asked afterwards why he could not make just one small

gesture of obeisance. He replied, with that opaque courtesy beloved of both Chinese

officials and Whitehall mandarins, that it could not be done. He was a figure who might have been at home in the Middle Kingdom, where professional scholarofficials, with the

equivalent of his double starred firsts in English and law from Cambridge, kept the vast realm ticking like clockwork. Like them he was low key but razorsharp, happy to let ministers have their say first, but with an impish glint in his eye, or a slow steepling of his fingers, that showed he had instantly grasped the danger, or the absurdity, of a situation.

His regret was that he could not always lead others to grasp it too; that

they could not learn to see things from the Chinese point of view. "Know

your enemy" was his motto, as well as the title of his book about a late

stint as chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. But for the British

governments he served from the 1960s to the 1990s, China was simply

unfathomable. Even he—on his scattered tours of duty in 1962, 196669,


(as ambassador) and secretly thereafter—found the changes

baffling. One decade uniformed crowds would be chanting to Mao as the

red sun shining in their hearts; the next, "louche young men in Tshirts"

proclaimed Deng Xiaoping's drive to open and modernise. In one dispatch,

in his literary way, he resorted to Auden to describe the fading of the

Cultural Revolution in 1968:

The vases crack, the ladies die,

The Oracles are wrong:

We suck our thumbs or sleep; the show

Is gamey and too long.

Beneath it all, however, he believed China preserved a selfsufficiency,

secrecy and superiority that would not change, and had not done since

Britain had been dismissed as "a handful of stones in the Western Ocean".

Giving up Hong Kong

His fascination was first sparked by reading Arthur Waley's translations

from the Chinese at school. He stayed intrigued after years of meetings

with Chinese leaders who smoked, spat or pickled themselves with maotai.

A Beijing autumn, calm and golden, with persimmons hanging like

lanterns in the trees, would enchant him. But the romance of China was

soon eclipsed by the struggle to live, as a freethinking

foreigner, within the communist system. China was, he confessed, an addiction with him. But it was also "an acquired taste, much of it bitter".

The toughest episode—though also, in his view, a triumph—came in 198384,

with the talks that arranged the return of Hong Kong to Chinese

sovereignty. Sir Percy, as he now was, eschewed a showdown. Britain

"had virtually no cards"; it was therefore essential to make a deal, while

pressing for whatever freedoms could be salvaged. Margaret Thatcher, still

fiery from the Falklands war, at first disagreed with him; Chris Patten, who

became governor of Hong Kong in 1992, pressed democracy a good deal

too much for Sir Percy, who knew it would unnecessarily upset the

Chinese. He accused him, in Prospect magazine, of a "fatal miscalculation".

This was uncharacteristic. Sir Percy usually made his points, and got his

way, stealthily and quietly. He would steal upstairs, when foreignpolicy

adviser at Number 10, to watch Wimbledon on television; he would travel

incognito to Beijing, once to negotiate the new Hong Kong airport, and

would be snapped pacing in the grounds of the Summer Palace, looking

much like George Smiley. But he was provoked into open war with Mr

Patten by his very hatred of confrontation. Dealing with China and its

arcana imperii was a matter for professionals, not politicians. And his

method was not surrender, though it might look as though he had put his

hands up, or made a cringing kowtow to the Chinese. It was just, as he

saw it, a nod in their direction, in a coolly realistic way.

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