03/05/16

Free your social conscience

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The latest Persil #DirtIsGood campaign shows just how powerful brands can be when they align themselves with the right cause, says Lou Garrod.

“Daily outdoors time is probably the most important part of my day,” says an inmate of Wabash Maximum Security Prison in Indiana, USA in the latest Persil TV ad.

“To walk out that door and feel the sun on your face, it’s everything to me,” says another.

Each inmate is allowed at least two hours outside ‘yard time’ every day. But what has this got to do with Persil?

Entitled Free the Kids, this clever and highly emotive ad is part of the brand’s #DirtIsGood campaign. It uses the bleak images of the prison – a place where no parent would ever want their child to be – to drive home the socially conscious message that, on average, children only go outside for one hour a day, less than high security convicts. The disturbing statistic comes from research of more than 12,000 parents of children aged between five and 12 in 10 countries.

When asked how the prisoners would feel if their yard time was reduced to just an hour a day, one replies: “It would be torture.” There is widespread astonishment that this is all the average child spends outside.

It’s hard to imagine how the team managed to film the ad for this, not because it needed millions spent on special effects, but because it is probably not high on any producer’s location list.

The press advertisement shifts the campaign into the home, yet remains powerful with its stark statistic, simply communicated.

It’s hard to believe that any parent would not feel at least little uncomfortable on seeing this campaign. I for one had a reality check: “Oh god! My children spent less time outside last weekend than a prisoner.”

I didn’t just feel guilty, I felt sick. I didn’t feel a sense of negativity towards the brand for this sentiment, I felt empowered.

Brands that deliver relevant socially conscious messages in the right way gain a real edge. These are the generous brands; the ones that are not using a channel to merely entice a transaction. Pampers Parenting Institute and the Lego Foundation are other sound examples.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to execute the experiential arm of  a similar campaign for Pampers. Pampers partnered with Britax and ROSPA to challenge parents to check that their children’s car seats were correctly fitted. Research revealed 70% were not. Results of live checks during our nationwide roadshow concurred. It was a powerful message from the off, even more so in the live environment when face-to-face with a parent who has been driving their child around in an unsafe car seat.

Taking a socially conscious approach like this requires careful thought and planning, to ensure it does not appear gratuitous and that brands are simply cashing in. Done in the right way, however, this trend is aligned with the demands of consumers, who increasingly want their brands to make a positive impact on society and the environment.

Lou Garrod is Deputy Managing Director at Sense.

This article appeared on marketing insight web channel Cream Global.

For more marketing insight, click here to download our book Real World Ideas: A Guide To Modern Experiential Marketing.

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