The blog of Jeffrey Himmel

  • Jeffrey Himmel

The American Cancer Society’s Winning Creative Advertising to Reach Holiday Donors

During this holiday season, when not-for-profits are vying for every donor dollar, good creative advertising is key. That’s why the American Cancer Society stands apart from the competition for best advertising during the month of November 2017.

American Cancer Society connected emotionally with its stakeholders, grabbed attention with singular focus, and repeated the message over and over again, so that it was top of mind with potential donors. 

What do the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, have in common? They all address chronic diseases. But what do they do? The missions of the Leukemia Research Foundation, the Glaucoma Research Foundation and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation seem pretty clear. They are involved in leukemia, glaucoma and breast cancer research, respectively. Do the ACS, ADA and AHA similarly conduct research in their respective areas of chronic disease? How about the Robin Hood Foundation? Or the Make-a-Wish Foundation? Why do certain organizational missions seem more clear and stand out, while others do not? It is not that one organization’s mission is more or less important than another.

The answer lies in these Top 3 branding principles.

1.  Clear brand identity--The foundation for all good brand-building is establishing a clear brand identity. Unfortunately, many lack a single-minded vision of their brand’s identity. And the brand is allowed to drift. Their products and services are indistinguishable, their marketing and their brands become invisible. And their messaging can also be so abstract. Yet they have great stories to tell, yet they don’t just tell it. So they become invisible, drift and become indistinguishable. The rules for not-for-profits are the same as they are for the “for profits”. Nonprofits have to see themselves as brands, because competing for the hearts and souls of donors is as competitive as P&G or Colgate competing for consumer market share. The rules are the same. Brand identity depends upon a consistent clear positioning that has depth and texture that is neither ambiguous nor general so that it does not inadvertently send conflicting or confusing messages to the target audience, and that are unique and meaningful. Advertising must contain a motivational lever and stopping power! It must make itself stand out by the way it promotes itself.

2.  Frequency, frequency, frequency--They tell their story non-stop, 52 weeks/year, because that is the way to stay top of mind. Frequency of advertising messages is the Holy Grail, which means telling your story, and telling it over and over again. American Cancer Society checks that box as well, easily getting up to 10 times per month against its target audience.

3.  Messaging that strikes a responsive, emotional chord--Messaging need to be meaningful to your target audience, --whether they be consumers, donors or volunteers, believable, build personality, convey only one selling point, quickly and simply, and talk to their audience in a single-minded way. They must grab your attention quickly and contain an emotional bullet - that’s good creative advertising. They must offer a meaningful promise of believable benefit, and then, repeat their key benefit several times, so that they are memorable. And they must grab attention right up front! Because you only have only 2-3 seconds to bond with your viewer or listener. Otherwise, they’re gone!

The donor, like the consumer, is interested in only one thing,

This means striking a responsive chord with consumers and talking to their needs and wants. Most messaging doesn’t. 

Our consumers hear the commercial and they say:

That’s the definition of creative advertising. They tell it like it is…they see things from the other person’s point of view and talk in their terms. That’s how you develop personality for your brand, that’s how you connect.

Congratulations, American Cancer Society!

Send Us a Message

© 2017 The Himmel Group