Dean Russell: How refreshing! A campaign that is inclusive, modern and successful

The director of digital at Fleishman-Hillard explains why Save the Children's #blogadesh campaign hit the mark

Dean Russell
Dean Russell

For a sector that has a legacy of hard-hitting advertising campaigns that were successful but sometimes uncomfortable, I find it refreshing to observe the recent shift towards newer, more inclusive approaches to campaigning and fundraising.

Nowadays, of course, this approach invariably involves the web. And with social media being so pervasive, campaigns are beginning to show far more maturity in their approaches than just making people laugh or cry.

One of the best examples of this is last year's Save the Children #blogadesh campaign: three mothers visited Bangladesh, tweeting and blogging about their experiences to raise support for the campaign.

Its goal was to put pressure on the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to make child mortality and maternal health a priority at the September UN summit. Some 63,569 people signed the Save the Children petition and Clegg invited one of the bloggers to join him at the summit.

In addition, the UN launched a worldwide campaign to save 16 million mothers and children over the next five years. Clegg also vowed that the UK would double the number of women and children's lives saved - impressive by any standards.

The campaign wasn't ground-breaking in its concept, but it showed how powerful the blogging community is. It also illustrated the power that real-time human stories from the front line have in creating a connection with audiences, both online and offline. Save the Children's campaign worked because of the traditional rule of 'know thy audience'. The 'mummy blogger' community is huge in the UK, so engaging with it was clearly a smart move.

In this case, there were three clear contributing factors as well as the message itself. First, it was simple: they made it clear what support was required - sign a petition - and made it easy to do and share. Second, there was a clear end-date when something tangible was going to happen. In my mind, these are common in most really successful campaigns. And finally, the objectives were clear from the start, which kept the campaign focused; even though the goal was monumental, the messaging made it seem possible.

These kinds of campaign are the ones that define this sector. They bring audiences closer to the issues, show the passion of the organisation and are memorable.

Ultimately, it is through clever campaigns of this kind that the sector can feel assured that sometimes the impossible may not be so impossible after all.

Dean Russell is director of digital at Fleishman-Hillard


Save the Children campaigned to put pressure on world leaders at the UN summit in New York in September to deliver promises for mothers and children across the globe.

It took three well-known UK blogging mothers to Bangladesh to meet other mums and hear how they lost their children to illnesses such as malaria and pneumonia.

The three 'mummy bloggers' involved in #blogadesh reached 40,000 people through Twitter and their blogs on the first morning, before even boarding the plane. By the end, the campaign reached more than 10 million people and more than 100 people blogged in response.

A petition linked to the campaign, aiming to collect 100,000 signatures, gained the support of 63,569 people.

The charity's campaign gained media coverage with a total audience reach of 75 million, spanning television, radio and newspapers.

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