Stupid Batman is a registered trademark — not fundraising

Stupid ads

Award bait. It’s one of the most common causes of stupid nonprofit ads.

It works like this: Ad agencies pride themselves about their “creativity.” But their clients rarely let them be as “creative” as they want to be. (Those annoying clients have this dumb need to actually get some kind of measurable results from their advertising dollars. The nerve!)

So how can they show off their true creativity?

Create really, really “creative” ads for clients that don’t care about the actual effectiveness of those ads. Partly because they aren’t sophisticated enough to know effective from ineffective, but mainly because they aren’t paying for the work anyway. They’re just pleased to end up with something cool they can show their friends.

And the agency gets “creative” that has a good chance of winning an award!

Like this spot for War Child:

(Or view it here on YouTube.)

The whole thing leads up to this punchline: For some children, fantasy is the only way to escape reality.

That may be true. But it has no bearing on anything. No action a viewer might take. It’s just a clever way of making a point … apropos of nothing.

The real achievement of this spot is not the message or the impact it might have on the real world. It’s two towering achievements:

  1. It legally uses the Batman character.
  2. It legally uses a pop tune that you’ve actually heard before.

Congrats.

But why?

Effective fundraising is always and only about showing potential donors an action they can take. It’s concrete, not abstract. It’s action, not just ideas. It makes people say What can I do? not How did you do that?

Your job as a fundraiser is to empower donors to change the world. Not to help ad agencies win awards.

(Thanks to alert colleague Stephen Butler for the tip.)

More Stupid Nonprofit Ads.


Comments

2 responses to “Stupid Batman is a registered trademark — not fundraising”

  1. jcrilly5@gmail.com Avatar
    jcrilly5@gmail.com

    I am always the dissenting voice that no one hears, but we’ll try again. It is irresponsible to assume that we can judge the effectiveness of this film or this organization (The War Child helped over 380,000 kids in 2016 alone) because we think using Batman is silly.
    If something is creative why is it deemed ineffective and blamed on an agency winning awards? BTW, we don’t even enter award programs and this is becoming more of a trend with agencies.
    Is it possible that this film is a part of the organizations overall marketing and promotional plan? It’s not like their entire promotional plan is based on this single element. It’s one element. One piece. And it’s incredibly powerful. They may have used traditional direct mail to donors and many other tried and true tactics along with this film.
    Don’t assume they have failed because they you don’t like one of their tactics and don’t assume the tactic failed because it didn’t have a formal ask or it’s abstract.

  2. jcrilly5@gmail.com Avatar
    jcrilly5@gmail.com

    I am always the dissenting voice that no one hears, but we’ll try again. It is irresponsible to assume that we can judge the effectiveness of this film or this organization (The War Child helped over 380,000 kids in 2016 alone) because we think using Batman is silly.
    If something is creative why is it deemed ineffective and blamed on an agency winning awards? BTW, we don’t even enter award programs and this is becoming more of a trend with agencies.
    Is it possible that this film is a part of the organizations overall marketing and promotional plan? It’s not like their entire promotional plan is based on this single element. It’s one element. One piece. And it’s incredibly powerful. They may have used traditional direct mail to donors and many other tried and true tactics along with this film.
    Don’t assume they have failed because they you don’t like one of their tactics and don’t assume the tactic failed because it didn’t have a formal ask or it’s abstract.

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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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