When rebrands go wrong

(And how to avoid the pitfalls)

Save the Children commits to more global marketing following success of “If London were Syria” campaign

Save the Children is making a “concerted effort” to launch more global marketing campaigns this year following the success of its “If London were Syria” campaign, which has had almost 24 million views since being posted to YouTube a week ago (5 March).

Video: Save the Children’s “If London were Syria” campaign

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Sue Allchurch, marketing director at Save the Children, says the global outlook began this year and follows the launch of Save the Children International two years ago. She adds that with the charity’s increasing focus on digital channels it made sense to adopt a more global approach, particularly as an increasing number of people in markets such as Brazil become interested in Save the Children’s work.

“We now have a much higher commitment to do things globally. The work we do on the ground is co-ordinated globally, most of our channels are digital and so we have a more global outlook by default,” she says.

Allchurch says Save the Children originally aimed for the latest Syria campaign to get north of 10 million views on YouTube. She credits the success of the campaign with the fact that Syria is a well-known issue and that the campaign touched a lot of people “emotionally” and so they felt comfortable sharing it.

“We managed to cut through the statistics and facts and show that these are children like yours or mine. It made people realise that, forgetting about geography, politics, the arguments, what would it be like if this happened here,” she says.

She adds that the strategy now is to find more platforms that can help the brand use its content and tell stories. That includes a greater focus on social media and other marketing channels that can help its people on the ground directly communicate with the world, rather than have to channel their message through the marketing team.

“There is the opportunity now with more engaging sets of channels for more people to have their voice. We need to integrate our marketing with our programmes to bring to life the work we do,” she says.

While Save the Children is increasing its focus on digital channels, Allchurch highlights that this means a rise in the amount of time the marketing teams spend engaging with supporters, rather than a rise in actual ad spend. That comes as the charity looks to build up a ”significant” content publication strategy that it hopes will get users to emotionally connect with the work it does.

“This is a competitive sector, you have to have fantastic content that really resonates with people’s hearts and minds. We need better content, to be more consistent and to have really strong branded assets,” says Allchurch.

Save the Children also recently launched a separate campaign claiming to show a real-life birth on TV for the first time. While Allchurch admits to the distressing nature of the ad, she says it is not the charity’s intention to shock but instead to raise awareness, in this case of the fact that 1 million babies die on their first day and that this could be reduced by training midwives.

“It is a fine line but if something is simple to fix and blatantly wrong then it’s our role to bring that alive to people. Our strategy is not to be outrageous but to touch someone’s heart so they will join us,” she says.

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