Sophie Brannigan

Client Insight Manager

Relationships that work both ways!

4 December 2015

In a sector currently tarnished with cold calling scandals and facing what could be game changing reforms in fundraising regulation, charities were in need of a miracle story… cue one of the nation’s favourite brands, John Lewis.

What better way for charities to shine brightly again than to team up with trustworthy, national brands, on the biggest advertising stage of the year, to produce thought provoking Christmas ads to raise awareness of their cause.

Public Knowledge recently conducted research on behalf of a friendship society and it got us thinking… has the team up between John Lewis and Age UK, shining a spotlight on the issue of loneliness amongst older people, had a ‘halo’ effect on other elderly charities? And have these charities maximised their opportunities to make use of and measure this awareness?

With 88% of consumers more likely to buy from companies supporting activities to improve society (Better Business Journal), it’s unsurprising that too often we read about brands teaming up with charities, keen to build their corporate social responsibility, brand affinity and drive sales through associations with a good cause. So why shouldn’t this relationship work for charities too?

Within a week of the John Lewis ad airing, Age UK saw an increase in volunteer inquiries. The charity Independent Age saw 370 volunteers offering support the day after the ad was launched, compared to their daily average of 60.

The Age UK and Innocent Drinks Big Knit Project has raised £1.75 million over 12 years for the charity. Tackling social isolation, the project provides opportunities to knit with another, while engaging Innocent customers and raising brand love. Everyone’s a winner!

And these working relationships aren’t limited to charities dedicated to older people. Save the Children are always top of mind during this festive season due to the success of their Christmas Jumper campaign. This year they’ve teamed up with leading supermarket Sainsbury’s too.

Through the nostalgic tale of Mog the Cat, the charity aims to raise money to improve child literacy in the UK through sales of soft toys and Mog’s Christmas Calamity, the book written to support the campaign. Early sales figures (Kantar Worldpanel) suggest this relationship is working both ways! With toys selling out within 10 days of the commercial airing, Sainsbury’s aren’t fairing too badly either, sitting at the number two spot amongst UK retailers at the end of November.

With Save the Children amongst the first to ban telephone cold calls after being caught up in the recent scandal, a decision they openly said would cost them in the short term, they are a perfect example of how charities can emerge from the shadows of negative press. And how, by acting proactively, they can reap the benefits of teaming up with trusted, household names.

The big question is, are these immediate gains short lived and of the moment? Once those Christmas ads leave our screens and we go back to our busy lives, does the impact also fade? Or does the legacy of these partnerships live on, leaving a lasting gift for charities this Christmas?