A better kind of charity case.

16 Dec

When the Rena ran aground, the nation was outraged. The imagery was disturbingly familiar. Suddenly one of New Zealand’s quintessential summer holiday spots (especially if you’re sixteen, drunk, and keen to lose your virginity), looked a lot like the gone-but-not-forgotten Gulf of Mexico spill.

Greenpeace volunteers were amongst the first to respond with clean-up assistance. Of course, if you want to be honest about it, events like this one are vital to Greenpeace operations. Something close to home, that people can’t ignore, with powerful pictures to drive the problem home – it’s during times like these that Greenpeace is able to properly fundraise. This is the great New Zealand ‘Ambulance At The Bottom Of The Cliff’ Syndrome in action.

(Although may it be noted that accosting people on street corners with a clipboard or bucket is probably not the best way to raise funds either. (My high school girlfriend once taught me that the best way to get past the street collectors without the awkward tension is to tell them you’re already a member. Actual membership optional.))

Anyway, I am not here to judge Greenpeace as an organisation. I am here to judge the campaign Mojo was inspired to create. Lachlan McPherson is one of advertising’s good guys. If there’s a decent social cause that could use his help, he’ll be the first one on it. This is good news for ‘bad things’ as he’s also a smart guy and a great writer.

One effect of an oil spill is a lot of cute animals die. If YouTube has taught us anything, it’s that cute animals are the second most important thing on earth, after extended compilations of accidental personal injury.

So the team at Mojo took the deceased penguins, still coated in the oil that had killed them, and rolled them against street posters to make their point. They then convinced Radiohead to provide a classic track and made a beautiful piece of TV. It all comes together to form one of the most beautiful charity campaigns New Zealand has ever seen.

The disturbing thing is that while this campaign fully captured my heart and imagination, I am still left with this strange feeling of resent for the Greenpeace brand. I should love this brand, but so much of my experience of the brand stems from those awkward street-corner sign-up attempts. What do you do when your fundraising process is hurting your marketing efforts?

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