Campaign for Good: JWT London and Aspire want to tell you a story

Want to hear an uplifting story? JWT London will tell you three in a new campaign for Aspire, a U.K. charity dedicated to supporting victims of spinal cord injuries. In direct email marketing, Aspire’s campaign seeks partnerships using unique hand-illustrated stories from real people the charity has helped. The emails invite readers to scroll through illustrations sharing personal tales of injury, recovery and resilience. Read on for our Q&A with Planning Director, Claire Jackson, on their strategy and more.

Aspire supports men and women who have suffered devastating spinal cord injuries by providing them with wheelchairs. These specialized wheelchairs have a positive, and often very personal, impact on recipients’ lives. JWT London captured some of these real-life stories and delivered them straight to in-boxes of brand managers based in sports, automobiles and male grooming products.

Can you tell us more about the strategy behind contacting brands in specific categories (sports, auto, etc.)? 

The goal was to generate new strategic brand partnerships for Aspire, not just ask brands for donations. We needed to target brands that would have a natural fit with what Aspire stands for and potentially a meaningful role to play in the stories Aspire had to tell.

We also wanted to talk to brands whose own consumers would be more likely to empathize with people living with spinal cord injury. We prioritized brands looking to engage male, sports/adventure orientated consumers who were more likely to know of people with spinal cord injuries from years on the rugby pitch or taking part in extreme sports. This led us to the categories of sport, automotive and male grooming. We told the personal stories of real Aspire beneficiaries and tailored each of these to celebrate themes that would resonate with target brands such as overcoming the odds, living life to the fullest and building self-esteem.

Why did you decide to use a scrolling and hand-illustrated execution for these stories?
In telling our Aspire stories, we wanted to take the recipient on a journey. All too often, people receive emails they open but delete before they’ve even read past go. We needed to intrigue from the outset and entice our audiences to read on to the end.

Aspire’s stories were designed as one continuous illustration. The more you scroll, the more you learn and want to find out more.  No breaks in the story meant we never broke the audience’s attention or gave them the opportunity to leave. Each story was brought to life by a different illustrator and their individual styles make each story feel even more human and personal. We wanted to pull on our reader’s heart strings and remind them that these were real people, living with spinal cord injuries, and appealing to them for support.

What is “Campaigns for Good” and how did the other charities involved benefit?
“Campaigns for Good” is a new initiative launched in 2011 by JWT London in partnership with the Media Trust. The idea was to create new opportunities for JWT employees to volunteer some of their time and talent to small, mid-sized U.K. charities of their choice. With the help of Media Trust, we ran a competition inviting U.K. charities to apply for the opportunity to work with JWT on a pressing communications challenge.

The four charities short-listed were invited to JWT to meet a panel including Jeremy Bullmore of WPP and Gavin Sheppard of Media Trust, to discuss their challenge and garner some initial advice. Aspire was selected as the winner to work with JWT in developing their campaign and the three runners up were provided with a personalised package of support from Media Trust including access to communications support, resources and training.

How has the Aspire campaign done so far?
The client is very excited and is currently following up on responses from brands generated by the campaign. Meanwhile, the “Campaigns for Good” initiative launched last year by JWT London, in partnership with the Media Trust, is gathering traction as a model of “agency giving” among other WPP employees and beyond.  This follows hot on the heels of the recent launch of the U.K. government’s ‘Giving’ White Paper which encourages U.K. creative industries to find new ways of giving to the nation’s charities and causes.

Don’t forget to check out Andy, Luke and Sheike’s Aspire stories here.

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