The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Who and why before how

When I’m asked about whether I think a marketing campaign is good, I always ask:

Who was the audience and what action was the campaign seeking to effect?

These are good questions to ask yourself before you launch any marketing effort. Is it well targeted? Will it resonate with the audience in question? Is it consistent with your brand? Will it get people to act in the way you want?

In other words, you’d better know who and why you’re marketing before you jump to how to market something.

Some colleagues recently called my attention to two campaigns, and while they both have merits, I”m not sure they nailed the “who and why” before they leaped to the “how.”

Here’s the first, which was a PETA campaign that was eloquently blogged by CK. It’s a website trashing the Olsen twins for wearing fur, providing interactive, bloody dress-up games, and a faux Full house video, which unfortunately is nearly as boring and unwatchable as the show.

Dress Up The Trollsen Twins!

So does trashing these celebrities make sense as a marketing strategy? It really depends on what PETA is trying to do. If they are trying to please their base, yes. It’s a highly negative, on-the-attack, celebrity-shaming, attention-grabbing campaign that is completely aligned with PETA’s brand and followers. If it’s trying to get online media attention for PETA, it also makes sense because it’s blogworthy. If it’s trying to get the Olsens or other celebs to embrace PETA’s cause and/or get new people to support PETA by writing to the Olsens or giving money, I doubt this will work. Going that negative will just estrange the mainstream, which includes people who like Mary Kate and Ashley or, if they don’t, prefer to visit Perez than PETA for their Trollsen dose. Quite simply, the campaign encourages people to think of PETA as being “fringe,” which I think is far less scary than being influential. So if the “who” is new audiences and the “what” is eschewing fur, I don’t think it works.

On to a campaign that is the polar opposite of the Trollsens – it’s a feel-good spot sent to me by a reader from Italy. Daniele writes:

I’m working for a campaign called for the NGO Terre des Hommes Italia. It’s a fundraising campaign for Perù, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe to help kids of these countries. We made a viral video for this campaign where the protagonist is our mascot, a paper toy. The video is a spoof of Dove Onslaught.

(If you want to know what the Dove campaign is, I posted on there here.)

I thought the video was cute (especially if you’re familiar with the cultural reference of the Dove campaign) for an audience of potential supporters in Italy – provided they know the Dove campaign. But the “why” was unclear. What does the ad want you to do? It seems to ask you to rethink the concept of superhero, but it’s not clear what you’re supposed to do as a result, or how cutting out superheroes helps kids. I think the campaign is interesting but has a perplexing (perhaps even absent) call to action. So I asked Daniele what was the “why” of the campaign. She responded the purpose was to spread the word about their work and raise money. If that’s the “why” of the campaign, I think it could use some tweaking. Thoughts for Daniele?

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About This Blog
Caryn Stein hi res

Caryn Stein
Vice President, Communications and Content, Network for Good

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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