Behind the campaign: #SurrenderYourSay

The Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada #SurrenderYourSay campaign. Google Images

Everyone agrees that charities have a tough job ahead of them when marketing their cause: there is insane competition for the ears of donors, every charity appeal sounds worthy, and we are currently experiencing an economic downturn.

Yet, every season, we see great campaigns which leverage and transcend the medium in which they live. Recent smart campaigns include Unicef’s Pinterest page, which turns the site’s primary objective (to play with the covetous nature and first world desire to collect everything from experiences, to food, to insanely expensive items) on its head, by showing the desires of a child, Ami Musa, from Sierra Leone: shoes, an education, and grain.

What is truly interesting to note is that aside from getting hashtags for specific campaigns (the many appeals for the Red Cross recently come to mind), no charity campaign has owned Twitter, truly leveraging the platform on a functional level.

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This is why it was disappointing to see an amazing campaign on paper turn out to be a bit of a bust.

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A few weeks ago I began to see mentions of #SurrenderYourSay in my feed and began to investigate. The campaign, conceived by The Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada and Saatchi & Saatchi, had such promise: you allow TSFC to control your account for a week, and experience the unwanted outburts sufferers feel, in a public forum.

At first blush, it seemed like a great idea. On-brand, on-message, and imitates both the experience of a sufferer, and the unwanted embarassment that follows.

But after 48 hours, the hole in the plot became obvious: there was a lack of original content, and soon, users began disconnecting the campaign from their account.

Social is an unforgiving realm, with users who will sniff out the problems in a campaign faster than anyone in your agency or office ever will. This is why it is so important to keep asking “And? What happens next?” and having contingencies built into your campaign. If this campaign was selling breakfast cereal, who cares? (except for the company who paid for it.) But this is a charitable campaign which had the potential to be so much bigger, and be really talked about, which is the point of all charity appeals, after all: getting the message out about your cause, and making the most compelling case for donations.

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This really shouldn’t have been a miss for such a well-respected agency with talented writers, who no doubt tout their ability to create content. Social isn’t about getting more shelf space or getting a prominent end-cap in store. It’s about the amount a follower, pan, or participant is willing to hear from you in a given day. It’s your responsibility as an agency or Brand Manager to ensure that once the ears are open, you’re saying something worth listening to.

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