This is a guest blog by Joe Farina of advertising agency Concentric.
At Concentric, as at every other ad agency, our energy is focused primarily on making our clients and their products look better. And when it comes to agency self-promotion, we look for ways to differentiate ourselves from a sea of other agencies that have similar capabilities. To open up this process, Concentric gave all our employees an opportunity to contribute ideas that not only helped promote the agency, but also helped someone in need.
As a company devoted to creating positive health experiences, and with a wide range of employee skills, we set out to determine how we could best make a difference. The only mandate from management was that it helped fix a problem in the complicated world of global healthcare. The project had to accomplish many things at once: assist a charity without seeming too self-promotional; demonstrate our skill in identifying problems within the overall health experience; and show how a minor repair to a healthcare system can create exponential gains.
Our first effort was simply to substitute our usual holiday videos, cards, and gifts for clients with a financial donation in their name to The Water Project. The positive response and overall good feeling we received from clients drove us to find out what else we could do. We used the power of Google to find a charity that was working to repair a broken cog in the global healthcare machine. After researching several worthy charities, we decided on the purchase of an ambulance for the village of Rimbi in Zimbabwe that was being sponsored through the Tekeshe Foundation.
The ambulance, which had served a population of 10,000 over a wide area, had been in a serious accident. We felt that a new ambulance would have a much greater impact than a donation of medicine or supplies would have. By repairing this break in the supply chain, we could directly improve the health experience of thousands.
Now we needed to get the word out.
The major hurdle in using social media for charity is exposure. Without a celebrity endorsement, how do you get the exposure you need? Without exposure, how do you get the funds you need?
Funding, in turn, presents its own challenges. How do you collect donations without forcing people to sign up for anything or offer their credit card information online? How do you prevent your audience from thinking your charity is not just another spam email or hidden corporate promotion?
How did Concentric meet these challenges?
The solution came from within. So great was our commitment to the campaign idea that we at Concentric decided to fund the program ourselves using our promotional budget. Members of the team promised to deliver print ads, a micro-site, and a strong social media presence that would promote both the charity and our involvement with it. If the company was committed to improving health experiences, it would buy the ambulance in exchange for a level of public exposure previous media outlets hadn’t provided. Concentric also agreed to fund future charities if the program was a success.
The attention span of audiences has dwindled as they have been bombarded with visual stimulation. Concentric needed our audience to absorb the story and participate in under a minute. Simplicity is therefore the key to the program’s success: a site with a bold, straightforward design and print ads that don’t force the audience to do any extra work. For every tweet or Facebook share the site received, Concentric would donate one dollar toward the cause.
So our worthy recipients don’t have to wait for their health fix, we donate the full amount upfront. Then, once we get the corresponding number of shares, likes, etc, we move onto another health experience that needs fixing… and so on. The more engagement we generate, the more experiences we can fix.
With Concentric funding the initial program, there was no need to have people sign up for anything or enter credit card information. One click kept the story spreading. Personalized tweets and posts helped our employees spread the word virally. We contacted friends, family, and any blog, newspaper, or individual we thought could help (thanks, Zoe!). To date, the site has had 1655 visits from 45 countries and 40 U.S. states, with 50 percent of the traffic coming from mobile devices and the other 50 percent from social media resources. The success of the program has inspired us to keep searching for health complications that we can fix using this model.
You can help us create a positive health experience. Share our story at thehealthfix.org