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07.14.11 - Hmmmmm…What Would Your Agency Do??

This recent article about an intriguing July scandal in England made me think. In the world of non-profit communications, PR and marketing there is never $$$, or…if there is $$$, it is never enough. See below from the July 11th edition of

Charities that advertised in the final issue of the News of the World are convinced the benefits of free advertising outweighed danger of association to a 'toxic' brand.

The final issue of the News of the World hit the streets on Sunday, after a week in which the newspaper was announced to be closing and that the final edition would offer free advertising to charities. The final edition doubled its usual print run to five million.

Charities that took the News of the World up on their offer included St Johns Ambulance, Pennies for Life and The Well Foundation.

The Children’s Heart Federation took out a full-page ad. Children’s Heart Federation Communications Manager Cecilia Yardley explained the move: ‘I think that because we are a charity that has no advertising budget, we can’t compete. We’re not endorsing the things that the News of the World has been doing, but we saw an opportunity to do something. It’s hard to present ourselves to the tabloid market.'

Speaking about the danger of association with an extremely controversial brand, Yardley said: ‘Clearly that was a concern and we thought about that carefully and we decided for our beneficiary group it was advantageous for them to reach a wider audience.’

St John Ambulance Director of Marketing, Communications and Fundraising Scott Jacobson said that the charity’s ad has already resulted in nearly 1,000 people texting in to request free first aid guides.

‘Knowing that one of them might one day use the information they receive to save a life suggests we used the right criteria in making this decision despite the unfortunate way the opportunity came about,’ added Jacobson.

Children’s health social enterprise Mend also advertised in the issue. Mend Director of Operations Tracey Bleakley said the free advertising was a ‘great opportunity to reach millions of families’.

‘As a social enterprise, we reinvest any profits back into the organization to further develop programs and services to help people to improve their health, fitness and self-esteem. We therefore don't have a budget for paid-for advertising and took advantage of the News of the World's free space and the chance to target our key audience of families.’

Commenting on the final edition of the newspaper, Third City co-founder Graz Belli said the last edition was a ‘sentimental, self-indulgent homage to its 168 years’.

‘Nonetheless, the charities that advertised will have benefited from Sunday’s doubled print run to five million - as well as boosting awareness of their causes there are the real returns from sales and many will have chosen to buy the last edition for this very reason. I did.’

W Communications founder Warren Johnson agreed that it was a success for the advertisers: ‘I suspect that the ad pages were given an unusual level of scrutiny and so any charity ads with the right message may well have gained from increased eyeballs.’

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