Best practice from Trimedia UK.
World Vision, the international aid relief and development agency, is dedicated to improving the quality of life of the world’s poorest people. The child sponsorship initiative allows people in the UK to help provide food, clean water, education and healthcare to communities in developing countries across the world.
Trimedia was tasked with raising awareness of child sponsorship and increasing the number of sponsors specifically in London and the South East. Any PR activity needed to run alongside an advertising campaign featuring Archbishop Desmond Tutu. These advertisements appeared across the London Tube network and on television.
The activity needed to engage the media and the public simultaneously to encourage them to sponsor children in developing countries.
The PR strategy involved creating a high profile stunt in an iconic London location to encourage people to think about how disadvantaged children live in the developing world and how people could tangibly help improve their lives. The primary message was a ‘call to action’ - become a child sponsor.
To create further noise around the campaign, Trimedia searched for a goodwill ambassador to front the initiative and communicate key messages.
The idea behind the campaign involved using thousands of pairs of children’s shoes, placed in the shape of two giant footprints, with each shoe representing a child in need of sponsorship in a developing country.
A media audit among national picture desks helped to advise on the location of the stunt, and Trimedia booked London’s Trafalgar Square to coincide with the Desmond Tutu advertising push.
To produce the giant footprint template, a designer was commissioned who created a 10meter long foot template, complete with toes. On the day, the template was placed on the ground and drawn around with chalk before it was removed and shoes were placed within the outline.
Trimedia liaised with Clarks, the shoe manufacturer to secure more than 2,000 pairs of children’s shoes. After a visit to the site in Kendal to view the footwear, the shoes were delivered to a warehouse in Milton Keynes.
A practice run through was conducted at the World Vision offices in Milton Keynes to provide insight into the number of volunteers needed to help out on the day, and the length of time it would take to assemble shoes into the ‘giant footprint’.
Whilst organising the stunt, Trimedia created a list of potential celebrity ambassadors who were relevant to the World Vision brand. Trimedia contacted selected celebrities seeking their endorsement of the child sponsorship campaign, and secured ex-Spice Girl, Emma Bunton, to front the activity.
Emma agreed to be photographed wearing a World Vision t-shirt and holding a selection of the children’s shoes secured from Clarks. Emma also provided a quotation, which was included in a press release.
During the event, a ‘cherry picker’ crane was used to allow photographers enough height to see the two giant footprints from above, creating a powerful image. A PA photographer was hired to provide additional opportunity for coverage of the photograph on the wire, accessible by all media.
On launch day, all volunteers wore World Vision t-shirts and helped to hand out thousands of leaflets to passers-by. All volunteers were also briefed on child sponsorship and were able to talk in depth to passers by about the initiative.
Several volunteers were already child sponsors, and were willing to be interviewed by the media. This provided an additional pull for the media, and was especially relevant for the broadcast media that attended.
A variety of photographers and film crews turned up on the day and included London Lite, thelondonpaper, Evening Standard, Getty Images, British Satellite News and BBC London.
Coverage was also secured in The Independent, Heart 106.2, LBC, and Premier Christian as well as a selection of regional London newspapers.
Thousands of leaflets were distributed on the day, and despite bad weather, the event attracted widespread attention among the media and the public.
The number of child sponsors in London and the South East increased by 1,100 following the regional campaign and since the event, Emma Bunton has agreed to become a goodwill ambassador for World Vision.
World Vision is currently looking into running a press trip with Emma and a national newspaper supplement to Zambia. The country has several World Vision Area Development Programmes in place, where the charity is working to make a sustainable difference to the communities living there.
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