At Work: Communications - Medium and message

Indira Das-Gupta

Charity communications agency Provokateur used a spoof letter to highlight environmental issues.

A spoof advert for Airport Watch and Enough's Enough that sends up the aviation industry has proved a runaway success. Charity communications agency Provokateur created a newspaper and internet campaign featuring the imaginary character Sir Montgomery Cecil, president of Spurt. The ads parody the worst excesses of the world of aviation, portraying it as a money-grabbing industry with no regard for the environment.

Cecil tells readers: "Aviation is good for the environment and, anyway, nobody wants to hear about climate change, flooding or people dying in Africa."

The ads, which ran for four days in The Guardian, The Times, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, did not include the charities' names, but instead directed readers to a website. "The website, which was created specifically for the campaign, revealed the truth," says Joshua Blackburn, head of strategy at Provokateur.

The website had 17,000 hits in only three days and 1,000 people emailed the Department of Transport as a result.

"It was a ballsy approach and deliberately provocative," says Blackburn.

"Too many charity ads are predictable, probably because people who work for charities are so passionate about the cause that they think the issue will sell itself. But that's not how people necessarily engage with issues - that's why we created a campaign that would get people talking."

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