Brand cops mandate stupid Haiti ad

Stupid ads

File this one under “Brand Cops Out of Control.” That’s the best explanation I can come up with.

This winner from Oxfam UK was uncovered by BlueFrog Creative, in a post that takes it and another Haiti print ad to task: Fundraiser’s Friday quiz question: the answer(s).

Oxfamnohope

BlueFrog noted the problematic positioning of the coupon edges: not easy for donors to clip, and thus less effective. So I’ll comment on some other problems:


  • The headline is glib, clever, and abstract. It depends on the reader completing the mind-puzzle and applying it to the situation at hand. That’s two assumptions you simply can’t make, yet the whole thing hinges on both.
  • The whole thing is virtually unreadable, with a dark background behind the type.
  • The copy reads like an intern’s first draft. It starts: “Hope. When something like Haiti happens it goes.” Something like Haiti?
  • Worse, the copy is about almost nothing. Like so many fundraisers, it attempts to put everything under one banner, and that banner is hope. Which is a wonderful thing, but it’s not specific.

Why would you create an ad like this? Well, it seems to have the fingerprints of brand cops all over it. The focus on cleverness over specificity. The unreadable graphic standards. The “look at me” messaging. Brand-obsessed folks do that.

What makes this monstrosity of an ad so discouraging is that there were indications that Oxfam had recently returned to the land of sensible fundraising.

More Stupid Nonprofit Ads.


Comments

4 responses to “Brand cops mandate stupid Haiti ad”

  1. You are absolutely right about this ad. It’s a mess. Confusion is not strategy for success. When messages are simple and easy the odds are 70% greater for success. 5th grade level wins! There is no specific message declaring an overt benefit. So why should I care? Oxfam is starving….. for a good marketing team.

  2. You are absolutely right about this ad. It’s a mess. Confusion is not strategy for success. When messages are simple and easy the odds are 70% greater for success. 5th grade level wins! There is no specific message declaring an overt benefit. So why should I care? Oxfam is starving….. for a good marketing team.

  3. Hi Jeff
    I’m not so sure I would point the finger at out of control brand cops for this mess. Quite possible it was, but there are two other possible scenarios.
    1: It was crap development by the fundraisers and the brand cop (or other relevant party) failed to pick it up. We think that it’s always other people that ruin our work. Fundraisers are quite capable of ruining it themselves.
    2: After Haiti the charity got a call from an agency offering to do work for free. And that was the determining factor in deciding to engage then (rather than are they any good..) Because it was for free, the charity managed to lose control of the creative process and the agency, being an agency doing free work thought it had the right to ape on the charity’s brand.
    Excellent blog, by the way.

  4. Hi Jeff
    I’m not so sure I would point the finger at out of control brand cops for this mess. Quite possible it was, but there are two other possible scenarios.
    1: It was crap development by the fundraisers and the brand cop (or other relevant party) failed to pick it up. We think that it’s always other people that ruin our work. Fundraisers are quite capable of ruining it themselves.
    2: After Haiti the charity got a call from an agency offering to do work for free. And that was the determining factor in deciding to engage then (rather than are they any good..) Because it was for free, the charity managed to lose control of the creative process and the agency, being an agency doing free work thought it had the right to ape on the charity’s brand.
    Excellent blog, by the way.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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