"Start here" stenciled on the ground

Thursday Thinky: Profiling, Campaigning & Generational Giving

New month, new Thinky format!

As we start the month of March, we decided to better align the Thinky with Media Cause’s five forces for change: Branding, Marketing, Advocacy, Fundraising, and Technology. To make it even better, we also opened the Thinky creation to our broader team so that the campaigns being shared are selected from a Media Causer from each of these pillars.

This week, we tackle racial profiling, parenting, and consent through three creative campaigns. We wonder about International Women’s Day with Apple’s new marketing campaign. We take a deep dive on generational giving, and we take a closer look at the role of video in Bernie Sanders campaign.

Here we go!


Creative & Brand


Courageous Conversation Global Foundation  – Not a Gun’ Tackles the Epidemic of Unarmed Black Men Killed By Police (Muse by Clio)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): Racial profiling by law enforcement is real in many cities, and the stats around black men being more aggressively pursued are pretty harrowing. But beyond raising awareness of the situation, how do we actually go about addressing it? You could come at it in a few ways: 1) Speak to the community that’s being affected, and give them tools and knowledge to be more prepared to prevent or diffuse a situation before it escalates. 2) Speak to officials who are on the front line of perpetuating the bias, and give them the training to reframe their thinking, and check their actions, before things get out of hand. 3) Speak to both sides AND general public, and mount an advocacy campaign to put pressure on communities and law enforcement to work together to solve the problem, rather than blaming one side or the other.

This campaign from Goodby Silverstein & Partners takes the latter approach–and while I think the strategy is right on, for me, the video and website both miss the mark in terms of creating a story that’s powerful enough to draw outrage, clear enough to communicate the intended outcome, and compelling enough to motivate action. When you first watch the video and see the transition from a candy bar to a gun (if you haven’t watched yet, please do, or this won’t make much sense), it’s not immediately clear what point they’re trying to make. Is it that guns are as easy to come by as candy, no background check needed? We find out later, through supers on screen, what the crux of the messaging is. But the fact that they needed that text in order to cement the point only reinforces that the story didn’t tell the job well enough on its own. “Help everyone get home safe” also feels like a miss in terms of a rally cry. It’s coming from a place of trying to build relevance to everyone, which is admirable, but it feels far too “nice” and passive for this issue. Where’s the passion, the outrage?

Narrative flaws aside, I do appreciate that this spot has a clear CTA to sign a petition at notagun.org, which, once you get past the email signup at the top (again, I’m not compelled enough yet to sign-up…), does a decent job of walking visitors through the situation and stats. Where the overall CTA overall falls short though, in both the video and the website hero, is in providing more context around what the petition is for, or what the real outcome is that they’re trying to achieve. “Give police and communities the training they need to save lives” would be far more clear and compelling, as it is tied to a tangible action vs. a “join” kind of passive sentiment. This overall effort has a lot of potential, but all of the small executional flaws of the campaign to promote it add up to what likely will not be as successful a result as they hoped for.



Huggies – Parents Shaming vs Parents Faming (The Stable)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): If you’re a parent, this initiative to help breakthrough “parent shaming,” and that nagging feeling that we’re never doing a “good enough” job raising our kids, will definitely resonate. It makes perfect sense that it’s coming from Huggies, since diapers pretty much take over your life the moment you have a baby, and they have a very natural connection to inspiring comfort and confidence.

While the 30-second version of this campaign feels more like a case study to me than a story, the longer-form video reminds me a lot of the work Dove did in the early days of the Real Beauty campaign, contrasting how parents (specifically women) are much more critical of themselves than those around them are. Here, we see the internal monologues expressed outwardly about parents’ very real self-criticism, the impact of all the “perfect” social media photos that bombard us every day, and how all of that creates this unnecessary pressure to be perfect. And then comes the contrast–their kids, their spouses, and the people around them telling them how awesome they really are. It’s a tried and true approach, but it still manages to feel like exactly what every (new) parent needs to hear. One of the most interesting parts to me is that even though this is from a diaper brand, the sentiment really holds true for all parents, regardless of the age of their kids.

The only thing this is missing is a clear call to action for how parents can help change the narrative together. The social hashtag on the website is a start, but does leave this feeling more like a campaign than a long-term brand initiative to address a cultural issue. What else could Huggies have done to make this more than a lovely sentiment and conversation, and actually begin to change cultural norms?


Hands Away – Vivid posters remind us (again) what is not consent (The Stable)

From Ansley (Senior Designer): “This Is Not Consent” is an advocacy campaign in Paris that promotes consent culture. It uses typical fashion industry photography of women in “suggestive” poses (that are really just normal poses) contrasted with the words “THIS IS NOT CONSENT” to draw attention to the fact that women are so easily objectified and violated, and that sh*t ain’t cool. The ads use the sexualization of the advertising industry, that historically does such a good job turning us on and pulling us in, to instead push us away and highlight the objectification we are guilty of. Which feels weird and friction-y and is, as Amy, our SVP of Brand + Creative Strategy, would say, very “PR-able.”

That said, there’s something about the high-fashion style of the photography and the ads that rubs me a weird way. It feels un-relatable. Like any mainstream advertisement that we’re so used to seeing, the models are primarily white, all thin and gorgeous, in sexy clothing. A feminist campaign that utilizes the sexualization of skinny white women to make a point… it just feels easy, a little weak, and like it might still perpetuate stereotypes and standards that we’ve been fighting to eradicate. How could this ad have been made more real? I think the visceral reaction that I had initially could have been carried further if the ads felt more relatable and less stereotypical. The article mentions another campaign that took place in Brussels called “What Were You Wearing” that took a different, more documentarian approach to the same issue to show that sexual assault happens to women no matter how they present themselves on the street. That felt more jarring to me, and held a deeper weight. It’s a problem that affects all kinds of people, not just models.

Consent culture is a growing movement, and that’s amazing. It’s incredible that we’re at the point that these types of advertisements are put up in very public places. But I do hope that modern feminist advocacy campaigns can track towards breaking down stereotypes, rather than using them to their advantage.





Apple – Going “Beyond the Mac” for International Women’s Day (The Drum)

From Melvin (Account Director): As International Women’s Day is upon us (this coming Sunday), brands are gearing up and launching campaigns to celebrate gender equality and women.

For the occasion, Apple has decided to recycle their “Behind the Mac” campaign to highlight women who are making a difference in the world today and using a Mac to get there. They had run similar campaigns to celebrate musical artists in 2019 and everyday creators in 2018. On one hand, it is a bit disappointing that Apple would not come up with a different awareness campaign than what they’ve done in the past. Something more creative, more unique. On the other hand, in typical Apple fashion, the aesthetic, just like the soundtrack, is ***Flawless. In addition to the “Behind the Mac” series, Apple is launching a 360 activation campaign called “She Creates”. Throughout March, Apple Stores worldwide will host a series of over 5,000 Today at Apple sessions titled “She Creates” to highlight inspiring female creators using photography, design, technology, business, music and film to address tough topics, explore new perspectives and empower their communities. This effort will also bring special features to Apple TV, Apple Podcasts, the App Store, and Apple Watch.

It’s great to see Apple lead the way in trying to change the narrative around gender equality and doing so through different mediums. However, there’s one question that keeps popping up in my mind… What about the other 11 months of the year? To be fair, this is more a shot at the celebratory months and days than a shot at Apple. But brands, agencies, and really all of us, are complicit. It seems that for 30 days, we’re going to celebrate women, congratulate each other on that work, and meet again next March. It’s the same with Black History Month, and the list goes on. I would have loved to see Apple do that same campaign over a few months or even throughout the year, and it does not have to launch in March either. It leads to another question. Do we, as a society, need prompts like International Women’s Day and Black History Month to celebrate others?  I think we could do better than that. What do you think?





Qgiv Generational Giving Report Reveals Untapped Giving Tuesday Fundraising Potential (Yahoo! Finance)

From Nicola Leckie (Account Director): Leave it to the fundraising team to pick an article about data. Qgiv, a leading provider of online fundraising tools for nonprofits, just released their Generational Giving Report. The report examines what motivates different generations to give.

As the Greatest Generation’s numbers dwindle, the Baby Boomer generation has become the #1 source of revenue for charitable organizations. But the transfer of wealth from the Boomers to Gen X and Millennial donors has already begun, and despite being young, Gen Z is already impacting fundraising campaigns…or are they? As nonprofits, we tend to segment in the traditional direct mail way (by giving history only) or not segment at all. However, we believe in an audience-first strategy to ensure that the message and tactics fit the audience. How are you responding to different donor segments? Are you currently segmenting your list into donor personas or by generations? Are you selecting different media channels by segment? What are you doing to reach the right person at the right time with the right message?

Children’s Miracle Network is a stand-out with their strategy to reach Gen Z through the Peer-to-Peer Dance Marathons. How could they take that campaign and adapt it to older audiences? Check out the report for some ideas on adapting campaigns by generation and let us know if you’ve tested any of these ideas and if they worked.





Sanders Campaign – Online video network is key to Sanders’ Campaign Strategy (NPR)

From Clara (Senior Advocacy Account Strategist): Welcome to a presidential election year in the United States! 2016 showed us how important it is to be accessible to the public—and how accessibility *doesn’t* mean surrounding yourself with a squad of communications managers and spin-savvy PR specialists (*cough cough* to a certain 2016 candidate who brought the pantsuit … out again). You run and you learn, so since last year, we’ve seen candidates wooing to win voters through all types of social media and digital mobilizing strategies—the strategies and tactics ranging from the innovative to the old tried-and-true. Every campaign wants voters to see how “next door neighborly” they really are.

Senator Bernie Sanders has long had some complaints about his coverage in the media. And who would they be if they didn’t buck the establishment and open the doors wide to the public? The Berner campaign has used online videos and practically every social media platform out there (even Twitch!) to offer as much Bernie as anyone could want. They’re streaming LIVE at every rally, they’re responding and inviting input, they’re getting gifts, and they’re even producing their own show.

On the one hand, the money they’ve raised through their LIVE streams hasn’t necessarily done more than breaking even with the cost of production. But on the other hand, this fits right in with Bernie’s platform and passion, creating a truly democratic forum in the movement where anyone can participate and have their say. And, as behavioral science consistently shows us, people like to know they’re doing something with other people, and when we see another person’s behavior being rewarded, we want to get in on that ourselves (imagine watching those gifts rolling in LIVE!).

Overall, this online video organizing feels like the right move for their campaign: it’s about more than the money they bring in through their videos, and it’s about connection with the people. Will this get him the nomination? Maybe not. But it certainly is right in line with the campaign’s values, and it’s engaging people where they are—even voters who might not typically engage with traditional media (think: those gamers on Twitch). It’s certainly a strong reflection of the “Not Me. Us.” movement.


There’s so much more to talk about when it comes to effectiveness and measurement…but that’s a post for another day. Thanks for reading today’s Thinky. See you next week!

PS: If any of the above made your wheels spin, we’d love to hear your thoughts — get in touch with us!

Interested in getting this Thinky in your inbox every Thursday? Let us know!


Related Posts