We've moved to a new office, just around the corner. We are sharing it with our preferred web partners Apt and Naked. We managed to lug all the boxes round here in about three hours flat and now were fully installed!
If you're in the central Copenhagen area, do come by and have a cup of tea (especially if you're a green entrepreneur with a large sack of money and a happy-go-lucky disposition)
The Aid Agency
Kompagnistræde 10, 3. Sal
1208 Copenhagen K
New week, new year, new people. Person to be more precise. Christina Berg Johansen joins us here at The Aid Agency Global headquarters this week strengthening our strategic and analytical capacity. She joins after a period as a Corporate Fundraiser with Danish charity Folkekirkens Nødhjælp. Prior to this Christina worked as a Communications Consultant at Kofoeds Skole. She holds an Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Copenhagen Business School and MA in Film and Media from the University of Copenhagen, specialising in Value-Based Communication. Needless to say, she's a very nice person.
Nice to be back in the office after a nice little break. Looking forward to all the challenges that 2008 holds. Was about to write a long Queen-like speech about but realised just in time that I am in fact a little too busy and don't have time right now. Queen like speech to come later. Must get on with more pressing matters.
The message this year on World Aids Day is that HIV and Aids sufferers still have to contend with ignorance and prejudice every day if their lives. We brought this message to the streets of Copenhagen this afternoon with a special event. It's always great to work with people who care passionately about the work they do and the staff at Aids Fondet (The Danish Aids charity) really are committed to their cause. The girl in the bubble endured freezing temperatures and the odd drunk, who insisted on kicking the ball, to get across their important message. The event also managed to make national news, which is great for everyone involved.
This week sees the launch of our nationwide campaign from the Danish Road Safety Council intended to get Danish road users, primarily males between 25-49, to slow down.
The speed campaign follows a pitch earlier in the year for the business, which The Aid Agency won ahead of Uncle Grey, Robert/Boisen and Likeminded and Lowe.
The campaign includes a television commercial featuring a Police Accident Investigator who, with the help of computer animation, talks us through the reconstruction of a typical accident as it happens. During the fact packed film he explains the various factors, which could have contributed to the accident, finally pinpointing excessive speed as the decisive factor in the driver’s death.
“Research shows us that Danes find it acceptable to drive just a little over the speed limit. It’s often this small difference in speed that can be the difference between life and death in a crash. In fact most drivers do not perceive speed as important factor at all,” said Niels Heilberg of The Agency.
“We also know that this target group responds far better to facts than to emotionally based communication. Our job was to present a rational and persuasive argument.”
The 'TAKE OFF 10' campaign will also be backed up with regional activities including roadside posters and the placement of wrecked cars in urban centres across Denmark, where members of the public themselves are invited to step into the role of Accident Investigator and challenged to find the decisive factor in the crash.
The film was directed by Fredrik Calinggard through film production company Far From Hollywood. The event concept was a collaboration between PS Communication and The Aid Agency.
It's been a few weeks now since the last post here due to the summer holidays. We're all back now, apart from Niels, who is sailing around Mallorca as I type. Normal service will be resumed as soon as I've managed to read through the 34,467 messages and posts I have waiting for me.
I had a really pleasant meeting with a couple of bright young students last week and have just got around to posting about it.
Anyway, Kirstine and Jakob came to ask me a whole load of questions about our corporate blog. It was really interesting to reflect on some issues which I hadn't (up until that point) really had reason to think about for more than a split second.
Hey guys, if you're reading by the way, I'd love to hear/see the results of our session.
I told them that one of my biggest frustrations as a contributor to this blog is that I don't get nearly enough feedback from readers. I know there aren't millions of you out there but there is what I could describe as a 'steady trickle' of visitors. So as an added incentive to readers here and for a limited period only, (basically as long as I can be bothered) I will be offering every person who leaves a comment on this blog a very special reward.
You will be allowed to dip your virtual hand into the 'good stuff tombola' and pull out a random prize. This prize might very well be personalised and has a very good chance of also being completely pointless but hey, you'll never know unless you leave a comment.
Is what we do ethical? After the topic was raised on Danish TV the other night, I felt compelled to write this article for our industry newspaper Markedsføring. Here it is in English.
"It's an interesting dilemma and one our industry has struggled with since it’s inception, although not with any notable or lasting conviction it has to be said. Any of us watching DR2’s Deadline program the other night will have had their conscience pricked yet again.
As man’s effect on the environment seems now proven beyond doubt is it reasonable to point some of the blame at an industry that is essentially the motor driving consumerism? In contributing to this problem aren’t we morally obliged to address the issue?
During the Deadline discussion which could only skim the surface of such a complex issue, both Fredrik Priesler and Søren Favli, who were representing the advertising industry, didn’t seemed to offer any kind of moral guidance for us on the subject, preferring instead to site the consumers own responsibility in the advertising equation as justification for their actions. The old ‘consumers are intelligent enough to make decisions for themselves’ argument was rolled out yet again. It’s an argument that shifts responsibility and avoids key issues. In doing so, they also missed the point.
American agency J. Walter Thompson once had this to say on the subject. "Advertising is a non-moral force, like electricity, which not only illuminates but electrocutes. Its worth to civilization depends upon how it is used." This is very true and it also raises an interesting flip side to the debate. What about the enormous potential advertising has to create positive change? We all know the power of an insightful piece of communication. Good advertising can change opinion; win hearts and minds. Surely then, what we need to ask ourselves are two simple questions?
What do we choose to communicate and how do we communicate it?
The ‘what’ we chose to communicate seems on the surface the easiest to tackle. Obviously, encouraging people to buy more gas guzzling cars or consumer goods made by children working in sweat shops would be pretty high on the list of things not to do if you want to sleep well at night. But if we start off down that path, were does it lead? Should we be screening the clients we work with, much in the same way some banks do? After all, it’s not just about the end product. What about their partners and their partner’s partners? As an industry, we need to think more about the new client relationships we enter and how we might change existing relationships for the better.
It’s also at this point that we hit another fork in the road. When does the way a business conducts itself become acceptable? This too is a very blurred line. For example, McDonald’s recently switched all their coffee to fair trade. The cynic would see this as a clever ploy to buy themselves some credibility, riding the green consumer wave as it were. A more optimistic view is that, in making this decision McDonald’s are genuinely committed to positive change. By taking this small step in the right direction and making it a success, which it surely will be, it will inspire others to make similar decisions, creating a snowball effect.
Some figures that might be worth mentioning at this point, for those of you who aren’t solely influenced by the moral argument. According to the Co-Operative Bank’s ‘Ethical Consumerism Report 2005’, the UK market for ethical goods was worth £24.7bn in 2004 and is growing at 15% per year, suggesting it will soon top £30bn.
So getting back to our role in all of this. Shouldn’t we be raising this debate with our clients? Couldn’t we provide them with the inspiration or argumentation needed to make these kind of decisions? Far to often we are reactionary. We feed off the scraps that are thrown our way. It is time we took a leadership role again.
Now for the trickier part of the dilemma. How do we communicate? The issue hear is how we choose to engage people.
The waters of the North Atlantic used to be brimming with fish. In certain areas these once fertile waters are no longer as they were thanks largely to modern fishing techniques such as ‘bottom trawling’ which involves strip mining the ocean floor with destructive dragnets. Not surprisingly, the fish disappeared.
In the same way our industry has been ‘bottom trawling’ for customers. Have you ever wondered how a football supporter is supposed to feel when forty-seven beer logo’s suddenly pop-up around the edge of a football pitch while he’s trying to watch the game? At best this can only be mildly irritating. Add to that the fact that they are paying for the privilege and it starts to become disrespectful. Søren Farvli was right on one thing. Consumers are savvy. They can see the need to off-set the marketing cost with a ‘premium’ price tag. They know how this game works.
People are being bombarded with selling messages every day of their lives and guess what? They’re disappearing too. Thanks to the advent of hard disc recorders and spam filters they switching off in their millions.
But again, this shift in attitude represents a huge opportunity for us as an industry to do what we do best. Innovate. The very same people who are avoiding advertising messages are gathering in communities around the brands that treat them with respect value their opinion. So let’s listen. Let’s add real value were it is needed. Collaborating with people to create a brand experience they actually want also gives us the chance to put ourselves back into that leadership role. Oh, and by the way, it’s more ethical too."