How charity runs became the new marketing stunt

A few of us will run the 10km Race For Life, on the 10th of July to support the charity Cancer Research. I thought it would be a relevant occasion to discuss how charities manage to raise money via sporting events. Although it happens in a lot of cities, I will focus my interest on London, our city of predilection, where this is becoming such a trend that you even need a diary to keep up with all of the scheduled runs!

charities run

So, how come this bunch of smiling participants are ready to do so much for the cause? Including paying registration fee, running donation pages & mini campaigns on social media to raise money, and putting groups of friends together to participate in the race.

Through the organisation of races, charities manage to raise not only money, but awareness, visibility and greater credibility, like any other brand would seek. They manage to do so with two simple things:

First, by (e)-linking people to the cause before, during, and after the event. For instance, Race for Life sends (or bombards!) participants with emails about the up-coming race, how to train properly, how to raise money, or even how to eat healthy, up to 8 weeks in advance!

race for life tip training communication email

And this type of communication is how you make this event more than a simple race. You turn it into a personal goal by making participants commit to it 110%. You organise training runs in parks, register everyone and make sure the team has matching t-shirts for the D-day. As a participant, you basically ‘work’ for the charity without realising it!

Secondly, charities get people onboard by switching the focus away from what is such a difficult cause into a celebration of strength, bravery and courage: Cancer is a nasty thing, and fighting it is a great, complicated battle. So, of course, you do not expect people to be ‘down’ at these kind of events but the atmosphere gap is such that it brings positive spirit, unite people and bring them together.

The infamous Color Run, for instance, make it a point that no banner or poster you can see has the word ‘cancer’ written. Only positive words such as ‘the happiest 5k on the planet’ are mentioned. Only bright colours on t-shirts & faces, bright colours thrown up in the air for each kilometer ran, as a milestone of achievement. And a party at the finish line, with music, food, drinks and happy (tired) people.

Runs are an even greater communication operation as these moments of happiness are later shared all across social media by participants, as you would expect them to do (!)

color run charity

Responsible Advertising for 2016

The Advertising Association’s annual LEAD conference took place at the end of January with this year’s theme focusing on responsibility in advertising, or rather lack thereof. The summit brought together over 300 leaders across agencies, brands and media to debate this growing concern. In the words of Andy Duncan, President of the Advertising Association, responsible advertising is the industry’s “burning platform”.

Ethical advertising may seem mundane in comparison to the number of brand scandals that came to light in 2015; be it money laundering at Fifa, VW falsifying emissions, or child labour at Nestlé. But when research from the AA’s think tank, Credos, reports that 73% of the UK public view advertising as manipulative, strides obviously need to be taken to reverse the verdict. TDLY has therefore broken down this year’s conference into four trends that, as both marketers and consumers, we hope will materialise.

Diversity Driven

Conservative MP Caroline Oaks slammed the advertising industry for their stereotypical representation of women. Fellow MP, Hannah Bardell, reiterated Oak’s sentiment with her declaration that advertising in the UK conforms to a “male view of what is normal”. Protein World’s “Beach Body Ready” campaign was just one of the brands put on the chopping block for objectifying women through obvious body shaming. Gender diversity was not the only issue however, with Labour MP Chi Onwurah arguing that the advertising sector needs to better reflect the demographic make-up of the UK in terms of ethnicity, sexuality and disability. The problem here is that new legislation around body image and diversity is unlikely, and with the ASA being seen as more of an advisor than an enforcer, liberal behaviour is down to the brand. However, as progressive campaigns continue to emerge from the likes of Dove, Lynx and Listerine self-regulation may not be so farfetched.

Overcoming Obesity

With Prime Minister David Cameron refusing to rule out sugar tax, and the ever-constant Adland debate regarding advertising unhealthy foods, tackling childhood obesity was another topic up for discussion. Celebrity chef and activist Jamie Oliver was one of the leaders behind this brigade and gushed about how the advertising industry contains some of the “most incredible minds” who could potentially solve this public health crisis. The discerning Ribena brand, who positions itself as a “juice for kids”, was criticised within this conversation for using adult guidelines for the nutritional information section of their labels. In truth, we originally thought Oliver was just a promotional plug, does anyone remember the polluted salmon farm debacle of 2004? But, after his holistic input about communicating health and nutrition basics, moving away from simply flogging products and, somewhat controversially, incorporating subliminal messages he may actually be onto something.

Data Discretion

With great power comes great responsibility. Christopher Graham, UK’s Information Commissioner, stressed that today’s digital economy brings opportunities and risks for brands and that data can quickly turn from oil to asbestos. For example, research conducted by the ICO found that 57% of respondents would consider to stop using a company’s services after hearing news of a data breach while 20% said they would stop altogether. TalkTalk fell victim to such a statistic after a hacker attack stole private customer data in October 2015 which ultimately resulted in the telecommunications company losing almost 100,000 customers.

The new General Data Protection Act, which will come into force in mid-2018, adds a further monetary layer to data control whereby the ICO can fine companies found to be in breach at a rate of 4% of global turnover or up to €20million, whichever is greater. However, a brand can withstand financial repercussions but what is far more costly is the time and energy needed to rebuild customer confidence. Therefore, it is not about what you can do with data but what you should do.

Inspiring Integration

Responsible advertising cannot be marginalised. It cannot be looked at for only half an hour on a Friday afternoon. Nor, can it be just a façade to deceive the general public. Can a company’s reputation be turned on and off? Of course not, and thus neither should its efforts to maintain/ become a responsible enterprise.

Former BP chairman Lord John Browne was another panellist at this year’s LEAD summit and claimed that responsible advertising is worthwhile, only, when it reflects real attitudes within the company. Lord Browne contended that responsibility needs to be aligned throughout the entire business and enacted in all day-to-day activities. James Murphy, founder and CEO of adam&eveDDB, provided an agency point of view and insisted that responsible advertising is also dependent on selectiveness in terms of the clients an agency agrees to work with. Murphy provided an eye-opening anecdote from when he took on a civil defence client soon after the 7/7 London bombings but after receiving the first brief for a weapons system marketed to foreign states the agency quickly realised it had made a mistake. The learning point is that agencies are not duty-bound and should know where to draw the line. For the advertising industry to move forward in an ethical way a responsible agenda and narrative needs to be communicated in and out of the business.

What’s your opinion on advertising responsibility for 2016? Leave a comment below!


Leave the lights of Soho on.

Soho has always been my favourite bit of London. The true and dirty heart and soul of this fantastic and crazy metropolis. Two syllables to represent an entire world of art, music, temptation and creativity. As highlighted by comedian, writer, actor and activist Stephen Fry, “The square mile of Soho and its surrounds is the most creative in the world. In its way it is at least as important as the square mile in The City”

Unluckily, as it’s happened to many other areas of the city, this once-seedy central creative hub is disappearing, bowing to gentrification and exclusive high-rise developments. Pret a Mangers are replacing cabaret bars and tattoo parlours are vanishing, making way to luxury flats. The last club forced to close was Madame Jojo’s, arguably one of the most eccentric and decadent nightclubs of London.

Lights of Soho

The event spurred residents, politicians and celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Benedict Cumberbatch to embrace the #savesoho campaign, putting forward a petition to prevent this gritty and unique area to be ripped out in place for shiny apartments and tedious high-street shops.

Soho is also one of the major advertising centres in the world, accounting for more than 20% of London’s creative jobs (not bad for a mere square mile), and agencies are putting their skills to good use to raise awareness on the issue. NOW Advertising, one of the coolest, independent agencies in London launched a clever and effective campaign that mashes together Valentines Day and their love for Soho. By creating a series of vibrant and iconic postcards, NOW wants to be a creative voice to support the existing #savesoho campaign.

Save Soho Campaign NOW

Physical (and extremely cool) postcards were sent to different influencers, including celebrities and journalists. Packs were also dropped around various iconic locations of the district, including the Curzon Cinema, Soho Radio and pubs such as The Blue Posts and The Admiral Duncan.

Save Soho Campaign NOW

Images and GIFS are being shared on the social media channels of the agency, to expand the reach of the campaign and maximise the results.

Save Soho Campaign NOW Save Soho Campaign NOW






Often the simplest ideas are the best ideas, and NOW definitely hit the spot with this honest and effective message of love to the golden mile. Hopefully, more companies will follow; the creative industry must stay unite in the attempt of stopping this “lunar eclipse” over Soho, that is depriving London from the genius lifeblood that makes this city the greatest in the world.

Activize Initiative – A Career Resource for the 21st Century

While most of us at They Don’t Love You are postgraduate students looking desperately for jobs next year, we have not forgotten the
younger generations. If you are one of the people who thinks “life was tougher when I was your age” then this article is probably not for you (let me suggest you read the articles in the tech or retail sections). At TDLY, we (or at least I) believe that today’s children face a much heavier pressure to succeed than our parents and their parents before that.Therefore, if you are in your A-levels and you are worrying because you are not sure what interests you in life or because you did not get any ‘uni’ offers, there is still hope. Really, there is! This hope is the Activize Initiative: an entrepreneurial project undertaken by two British students, a platform that could inspire young people from diverse backgrounds to create world-changing ideas, but overall, an amazing career resource for the 21st century! Using ground-breaking interactive technology, Activize is building an incredible tool that exposes the social leader inherent within all young people, and provides practical, personalized advice for young people leaving education. I met with co-founder, Hugo Winn, to ask him a few questions and understand the ambition behind this very promising project.

How did it all start? Were you drunk at the pub when you came up with the idea like Mark Zuckerberg when he founded Facebook?

Hugo Winn: After school a lot of our friends went different ways, but a few have ended up doing a socially positive career. We noticed that kids are rarely told by their career services that entrepreneurship and innovation are a feasible option for a career. It seems a-lot of young people are leaving education at 16 or 18 facing overwhelmingly small odds of landing a traditional office-style job. Naturally, this is pretty depressing.

Concretely, what is the Activize project?Activize logo

HW: We wanted to highlight those remarkable kids who had overcome obstacles and done something different for themselves and their communities. So we decided to create a hub for radical ideas, stories and leaders aged 25 and under. We’re also building an interactive tool for young people to discover their natural leadership skills and how they can exploit them.

What is the message your brand tries to convey to the younger generation?

HW: We’re building an amazing team of young creative people who are helping with Activize’s branding and marketing. We are trying to create a brand that says ‘these are serious issues being raised by serious people’, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it and create something different and unique.

It seems you have a strong team of advisers, how important are these advisers?

HW: We have brought together an incredible community of leading educators, experts and entrepreneurs committed to social change in the next generation. We wanted the advisory board to be as comprehensive and diverse as possible,so that’s why we’ve got folks from academia, business and education, working together to make something awesome. Our advisors have collectively got over a century in changing young people’s lives, so we think this is a massive asset for the project.

The Activize website will be fully operational and available to young people leaving school this summer, have you contacted schools to get a better visibility and awareness for students who may be in difficulty choosing their path?

HW: We have teamed up with The Duke of Edinburgh International Award, which is incredibly exciting. They are going to help get our resources into about 60 schools across Europe. Additionally, we’ve had another 60 schools signing up on our website (a paper long-form format of our interactive quiz) and are teaming up with international universities to engage t
heir students in social leadership. From madrasa’s in Pakistan to Australian high schools, it’s been really inspiring to receive such a great up-lift of our vision.

Can you give us a few names of the leaders you are targeting at the moment? Or is it classified information…?

HW: Unfortunately it’s top secret at the moment. But, I can tell you we will be featuring a rapper who raps poetry, a collection of radical young politicians, a disabled rights’ campaigner and a jewellery entrepreneur. Watch this space…

Activize also relies on social media as a communication channel; do you get a lot of engagement from these networks?

HW: We are already getting an amazing response. Getting positive comments from people like Sir Ken Robinson, and the UN Youth Secretary on twitter is really motivating.

We needed a way of engaging young people in diverse and sometimes controversial conversations. Social media is an obvious choice in this respect. We will be posting videos, images and articles from our Young Leaders in the coming months.
UN Secretary-General Envoy of Youth

Do you have specific objectives you would like to achieve on social media?

HW: We’re still hashing out the ins and outs of our social strategy at the moment. What I can say is that an integrated approach to social will be at the heart of our structure. We want our social channels to become hubs of challenging ideas and initiatives between a global audience of young people, and each channel will help deliver this mission in different ways. We are working hard and can’t wait to share some of this stuff with everyone.

Finally, what would say to a fifteen year-old girl passionate about painting whose parents too often told her that a career in art would take her nowhere? (This is not about me, I’m asking for a friend…)

HW: I would say, make the case to your parents why your passions make sense to pursue. Your parents were probably born in a time when jobs were ranked on ‘reliability’ rather than ‘fulfillness’. Building a career out of something you’re passionate about not only makes personal sense, but financial sense as-well. Simply put, if you are genuinely passionate about something you are more likely to do a good job on it. Money and everything else will follow suit. That’s what I believe. Make the case for this to your parents; we have a duty to change the mind-set not only of our generation but the generation before us as-well.

Wise words from a wise man indeed. Go visit: and show your support on Twitter and Facebook.

Is Impossible, possible?

Lily Cole, British model and actress, is now an entrepreneur. She has created a non-profit social media network called Impossible. You simply tell people your wish and wait for someone to grant it. In return you get a thank you.

The idea behind Impossible is that doing something nice for someone will make you and him happy. Think about it… Smiles are contagious. You cannot deny that when a complete stranger passes by you and smiles, this makes you happy and you will likely smile back. You might think, but why did he smile? It may just be a selfless act of kindness. “Impossible” follows the same principle. You do something nice for someone and you expect nothing in return. The truth is that you get joy in return, joy knowing that you have helped someone.

Is this “Impossible”? Or are there really people out there who will do something kind for you without expecting anything in return? Apparently there are.

This is the mission of Lily Cole's new social media network: Impossible


The Impossible network idea stems from the fact that we are all social creatures and that being a part of a generous and kind community makes us happy. It is about exchanging gifts. It is a very interesting approach to social media. Lily Cole says that this is a personal project that makes her happy and wants to spread this happiness. In future, products may be sold on the platform. Monitoring tools are used to report inappropriate content. The idea is to keep the platform “pure”.

Today information privacy is becoming increasingly important to consumers and a challenge for businesses. Another issue is businesses flooding social media networks with advertising. Lily Cole recognises these issues and “Impossible” moves away from this.

Looking through a more critical lens, will this platform remain pure? If it becomes popular will firms start using it to their advantage? Will people’s intentions remain non-money related or will greed interfere? Will this network be adopted and become popular? Time will tell.

Why not try Impossible out here. Who knows, maybe it’s contagious.