Fighting Hunger with No Names

By: Guest | October 16, 2012 | 

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Today’s guest post is by Geoff Livingston

Given who reads Spin Sucks I decided to open the kimono and show the social strategy behind the #hungertohope campaign today for World Food Day, an ad hoc strategy that was built to address a critical weakness.

For a variety of time and legal reasons, we were not able to put a name and a story behind some of these beautiful photos of children who benefit from the Hunger to Hope effort.

We’ve all been there, and I’m not complaining.

Every seasoned marketer faces campaigns that don’t achieve text book ideals.

It’s still a powerful story. Fundraising to help children today, on World Food Day, is a great honor.

Razoo and Yum Brands! agreed to work together with the World Food Programme in late August, so this campaign came together very quickly.

As the lead social strategist in this situation, it’s my job to deploy the very best campaign possible. So here’s how we are fighting World Hunger today with no names. I hope you’ll join us in the #hungertohope campaign and take small acts that collectively will make a big statement.

Relying on the Photos Themselves

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We have lots of great statistics to tell the story, as well as Christina Aguilera’s general appeal, but when it comes to donations you need emotion. Something has to appeal to the donor to make them feel compelled to care enough to take financial action. That’s why you want stories.

We may not have been able to use beneficiary stories or names — the most effective way to fundraise using social media — but we do have six pictures.

These pictures show the face of the beneficiary, children throughout the world who can go to school on a full stomach thanks to kind people donating to the World Food Programme.

Wherever possible on our various media assets, we are showing the face of hope, the end result of fighting hunger. These photos were published on Instagram, and appeals are being sent out across Razoo, Yum!, WorldHungerRelief and my personal account throughout the day.

Ads Instead of Coverage

John Haydon conducted this interview

When the campaign was first architected, I had hoped for 20+ blog stories. A few friends and caring people such as Gini Dietrich, Beth Kanter, John Haydon, Shonali Burke, Allyson Kapin and others (which had not been published at the time of release) have come through.

But generally, no stories = no coverage. So instead we are showing the faces of the campaign through advertising in an attempt to flank social media sources and directly reach readers.

Today, the Hunger to Hope campaign is featured on Mashable, with a global takeover of the front page. We also have a flight on the BlogHer network, as well as a Wildfire campaign on Facebook.

Every single ad features the faces of these six children as depicted in the photos.

The Tweet Bomb

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One of my favorite tactics I’ve always wanted to deploy is the tweet bomb.

This morning, more than 150 bloggers banned together to kick World Food Day off with a tweet or three. A story may be too much, but a tweet is certainly doable. Collectively, we made a huge statement.

While the bomb may be over, the day is not done. If you want to Tweet for #hungertohope, grab a tweet here and drop one for these beautiful children!

Email and Conclusion

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In addition to the promotions, we reached out to our core Razoo and personal networks and directly asked for help today. Certainly, less sexy than the above tactics, but probably more powerful to generate dollars.

Why show you this campaign with such naked transparency?

If spin sucks, so does complaining about less than perfect situations. That’s everyday life. We all have jobs to do, and opportunities to succeed or fail no matter what cards are given to us.

To me, that’s professionalism.

When it’s a campaign like this, when children’s lives are on the line, much less their future, I feel like I owe it all parties involved to throw every good punch I can.

What do you think?

Geoff Livingston is an author, public speaker, and strategist who helps companies and nonprofits develop outstanding marketing programs. He brings people together, virtually and physically for business and change. He also co-authored Marketing in the Round with our own Gini Dietrich. You can follow him on Twitter and find him on LinkedIn.


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  • Geoff, kudos on adopting the strategy of sharing the message through various bloggers who have a lot more social influence and viral impact than most media outlets could ever have.

    • @joshchandler I just read your comment and saw that you wrote kudos too 🙂 must be the word of the day?

      • @kateupdates Isn’t it a great word though? Kudos for picking it! 🙂

        • @joshchandler  @kateupdates Isn’t Kudos a chocolate covered granola bar?

    • @joshchandler Ha, thanks.  Well, I’ll say this. The current approach is generating a lot of visibility and brand value. It’s not creating a ton of donations, and I think that’s because of the lack of emotional story, so critical for social.  But it could be a lot worse!

      • @geoffliving Well, I think you are getting it spot on so far. 🙂

  • Kudos to you and your team for adapting. That’s just the industry we’re in. I’ve been a part of many campaigns, often involving charities, that didn’t allow as much time as we’d hoped for to promote. Red tape, slow response time, changes in strategy … it happens all too often.
    It can be really challenging to roll with the punches and, in the words of Tim Gunn, ‘Make it work.’ I empathize and appreciate your honesty. Wishing your team and this wonderful campaign the best …
    Tweeting now!

    • @kateupdates Yup, we all have this happen, and you do what you must, and you do it well.  I think the social PR has been outstanding. Very happy with that part of the effort.

  • ifdyperez

    This is awesome!

    • @ifdyperez I think Ifdy wanted a higher comment ratio.

      • ifdyperez

        @geoffliving Comment # 9

    • @ifdyperez 🙂

    • @ifdyperez Ifdy, you are seriously on a roll today!

      • @ginidietrich  @ifdyperez so wait…Ifdy is awesome?

      • ifdyperez

        @ginidietrich LOL! I can’t help it. These ideas come to me, and I have to put them into action! (Comment #28)

  • belllindsay

    Great work all around guys, I hope the campaign is a success for you! 🙂

    • @belllindsay You are awesome, Lindsay.  Thank you for coordinating on behalf of team AD.

      • belllindsay

        @geoffliving T’was my pleasure my friend. 🙂

  • magriebler

    Hi Geoff. I just made a donation to #hungertohope and I’d like to tell you why.
    1. I learned about the campaign from people I trust in social media, starting with @KenMueller’s blog this morning.
    2. I’ve developed direct marketing campaigns to raise money for hunger and poverty alleviation and I have strong opinions on the right and wrong way to do them. First, I liked the tone of your content: warm, factual but never sensational and — most important — hopeful. Second, I loved the images you chose. I despise photos that depict children as victims. The kids on the razoo page glow with beauty; the images radiate respect. Thank you for that.
    3. I’ve been watching crowdfunding campaigns with interest and was delighted to jump into this one. When we pair the power of community with the ease and security of platforms like Razoo the potential to make a difference is enormous. And it’s not always about the amount of money that’s raised. Sometimes it’s as simple as creating awareness about our neighbors here and around the world living every day with hunger. We don’t always know how many impressions it takes until someone reaches for their wallet, but it’s worth the effort.
    Thanks for providing the backstory to the campaign in this post. It’s one of the best ways to learn.

    • @magriebler  Thank you on so many levels. Having done a few of these now, I really think the purpose of fundraising for causes is to not show the problem, but let  people feel like 1) they can contribute  to a solution 2) feel good about helping out and 3) amplify that good feeling with their friends, making it special for them, and perhaps empowering them to be change agents.  It’s what makes giving work for all of us.And you are right about the awareness. One of the best studies on the topic came out of Georgetown, and showed that by liking, RTing, and sharing these types of campaigns, we’re twice as likely to vote, give or advocate for a cause. I think it becomes really important for community building when you look at it like that.

  • Hey pen pal! First, thank you for opening the kimono here for us. You’re right – things never go according to plan. I remember doing a huge event (the biggest one of the year for the client). We had every national media coming to cover it. And that was the day President Bush declared war. So that was fun. We ended up shooting b-roll and the media who had committed to being there ran a story later, but it just wasn’t the same.

    • @ginidietrich Oh man, that just sounds awful!  The best made plans, right?  Wow, next time we travel, we’ll exchange war stories. I have a NY Times Netanyahu story from hell! Mossad included.

      • @geoffliving Oh I can’t wait to hear this!

  • rdopping

    Your honesty is a great example of the power of positive social awareness. I am glad that your campaign was a success. Cheers, Geoff!

  • What a great campaign! I worked as a street outreach counselor for for 3 years in LA. It is amazing we waste so much here in the US and refuse to feed and house every child. I also think your targeting is dead on because our government is very stingy with international aid. In 2007 last year I have info for we ranked below 30th in the world for percent of GDP going to Aide. It was I think 0.13 % of GDP and Denmark was giving 1% But personally the people of the US donate a ridiculous amount more per person to charity.
    Sadly my head was in the sand that this was happening yesterday 8(

    • @HowieG Thanks, Howie.  Yeah, it’s interesting how much stronger our nonprofit culture is in the U.S.  Did you know that 10% of the U.S. economy and jobs come from 501c3s?

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