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Ideas and technique to help you promote and image radio

The delicate mechanics of charity advertising

Two mechanics working on a car engine

Picture: Mechanics for Africa

Charity advertising can be some of the hardest to get right.

You need listeners to empathise with a good cause but nobody turns on the radio to wallow in pity or feel wretched.

Indeed, Advertising Standards Authority rules require that listeners must never sense that they “lack proper feeling or fail in a responsibility by not supporting a charity”.

When it’s charity in Africa there are further risks. Clich├ęs lurk in the bush, ready to pounce. Some of them rather wonderfully observed by the Norwegians in their Rusty Radiators campaign.

I’m writing this from Southern Africa where, time and again, I hear people tell me how Western charities through the media paint an unhelpfully bleak picture of their continent. People here say they’re not victims. They can make their own futures and they can tell their own stories, thank you very much.

So, against that complicated ethical, social and legal backdrop, here’s a radio ad campaign that avoids sensational suggestions of hopelessness while still drawing on some classic tropes of charity advertising that are proven to work with UK audiences.

Mechanics for Africa

Mechanics for Africa trains underprivileged young people in Zambia in motor vehicle mechanics. It aims to share a skill for life from which they can help others and build their own business.

This piece of creative in their fundraising campaign shares an authentic individual’s story, illustrated by her own voice within a narrative structure from voice actor William Vanderpuye.

The 60″ duration gives this spot time to breath and for you to be transported to the scene.

The campaign includes 15 different executions and will run over a whole year so there’s no need for any repeated hectoring on the call to action. Tonally perfect for the thoughtful environment of Premier Christian Radio where the campaign will air.

Judgement like this comes from experience so it’s not surprising to see the long-established radio strategist Howard Bareham and creative Matt Hopper behind this work.

Their new radio planning, creative and production agency Trisonic in London was commissioned by another radio veteran David Lucas, chairman of both Mechanics for Africa and the Lincs FM group.

David marks 40 years in commercial radio next year.