We’ve written about ambient cause marketing campaigns before, and we can’t get enough of the ones that are done well. Here are six more international campaigns that promote important causes in a creative and effective way. Like the others we’ve highlighted in this blog, these efforts have the added surprise factor that occurs when the viewer encounters a powerful message in an unexpected place.
1. Raising the Roof: Awareness for Canada’s Homeless Youth
How do you react when you see a homeless person on the street? If you avert your eyes and quickly walk away, you’re not alone. Raising the Roof, a Canadian organization dedicated to finding solutions to homelessness, teamed with advertising agency Leo Burnett to change this. This campaign confronts the uncomfortable truth that we’ll pay attention to a poster placed near the curb, but we’ll ignore a human being in the same spot. By reminding us how people sometimes dehumanize others for their own comfort, the campaign makes us consider how we can change this behavior to be more caring and compassionate toward the less fortunate.
2. Hot Wheels: Don’t Drink and Drive
When patrons entered The Little Door Pub in Mumbai on the night this campaign ran, they handed their car keys to a valet. When they were ready to leave, they got their keys back…with a little something attached. Each set of keys had been given a keychain accessorized with a trashed Hot Wheels toy car, along with the message “Even a small drink is enough.” The graphic depiction of the wrecked cars was enough to convince many drivers to call for a ride. And the buzz (from the campaign) lasted long afterwards.
3. Not Found: 404 Pages
All websites display 404 errors when a certain page can’t be found. One European charity asked, why not use that space to support a good cause? Based in Belgium, NotFound.org raises awareness of missing children. It offers website owners the opportunity to display something more significant than a simple 404 error on a missing page: an actual missing person. Sign-up is quick and simple. The service is currently only available in Belgium, however the organization is hoping to expand into other European countries, as well as Canada and the United States.
4. Singapore Cancer Society: Designated Smokers Area
Another graphic depiction of a serious health issue, this campaign from the Singapore Cancer Society is a true eye-opener. When smokers gather around an outdoor cigarette receptacle, it’s virtually impossible to ignore the ultimate consequences of their habit, outlined starkly on the ground beneath their feet.
5. City Harvest: Feed the People
A simple sign drove an emotional reaction that benefited New York City-based food rescue organization City Harvest. This campaign drives home the idea that many New Yorkers don’t hesitate to feed birds, but might not think about feeding their fellow humans. It’s a great example of how to take an existing message from a different group (city parks) and play off it with an equally important message.
6. Quit: Premature Ending
Another great anti-smoking campaign, this one from the UK. Reading a book and having it come to an abrupt, unsatisfying end is frustrating enough. Having the same thing happen to your life is much worse. The anti-smoking group Quit came up with a clever way to make this point by inserting a premature “last” page — featuring a message encouraging smokers to quit — into books sold in stores and e-books sold on Kindle. The campaign was wildly successful: Calls to the Quitline increased by 235 percent in the month after this campaign was launched.