The Way We Live, Sunday 21 November 2010: Hooking Up with Charity

I had an interesting conversation about advertising recently with a copywriter pal.


“I hate ads!” I said to her.


My pal begged to differ.  “No you just hate the bad ones. If a TV commercial is clever or funny – you love it. We all do. Tell me you don’t love ‘Barbara from the Bank’”


Okay, I do kinda love Barbara from the Bank and her “I’m in a meeting” schtick.  And I never get sick of watching the Old Spice now-I’m-on-a-horse guy.  And now that I think about it I was always rather fond of that yoghurt commercial where the woman sitting on a park bench had calories delivered “straight to her thighs”. And twenty years ago I was pretty obsessed with the Nescafe TV commercial romance. Remember Roy? Remember the blonde woman? Remember Rebecca the daughter who was a musician? And the pan pipes?  It was a mini soap opera played out over several years.


But there’s another ad that grabbed my attention this year – another bank ad interestingly enough. The ad wasn’t about bank queues or interest rates or longer opening hours or how the banks are ripping us off so that many of us are considering entering our toddlers in Little Miss Pine Rivers to earn some prize money (maybe that’s just me). Instead, it was a short, simple ad about how a certain bank offered its staff paid leave for volunteering in the community. And that simple, low-budget ad had me thinking differently about a bank I would never have thought twice about.


Increasingly businesses of all sizes are stepping up and demonstrating a real commitment to their local communities and the environment. Of course there are tangible public relations benefits if the behaviour is genuine and consistent. (Are you listening banks?). But there are also huge staff benefits to having a social conscience. Staff develop a sense of pride in the company. And there’s better bonding amongst employees.  (You see, when someone from Accounts is made to do two hours of free “gold coin donation” Christmas gift-wrapping with someone from Marketing – the Great Photocopier Feud of 2007 is eventually forgotten.)


So let’s say your company would like to help out a cause but you’re cash-strapped.  According to Social Money Solution’s Tara Castle it’s not all about donating money.


“Sure, cash is king for most charities but often charities needs are not always in financial terms.  Charities can really benefit from corporates donating their expertise and resources or even volunteering and mentoring.  Sometimes these kinds of donations can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars without a cent changing hands.”


So the question is, what is your company really doing to help the community?  A donation tin on your front reception counter doesn’t cut it. Why not head to or www.socialmarketingsolutions for some ideas.


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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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