The Guilt Trip

February 26, 2013

Have you ever tried to ignore certain charity workers in Dublin city centre? Put the head down or turned up the volume on your iPod? I have and I still do. It’s not that I don’t have the time to stop and chat or hear about the wonderful things they’re doing, it’s because of how it makes me feel if I do stop. I feel terrible if I listen to their story and don’t donate money. I can’t afford it right now so if I stop, I eventually wind up walking away with my hands firmly stuck in my pockets. If I don’t stop, I still feel bad. A double-edged sword you might say.

I know these guys are out doing a job, probably not getting paid and are doing it to raise money for a very worthy cause. That’s not my issue. My issue is the guilt tripping. And it’s not just from the feet on the street.

The TV ads or “appeals” as they’re sometimes called, not only make me feel guilty about not forking over money, they make me feel uneasy. I’m well aware of what’s going on in impoverished, war-torn countries and I don’t need it thrust in my face. These ads are so sad, depressing and above all else, are all the same. You nearly wonder if your donations are doing anything at all. Where are they going? What are they being spent on and why are we seeing no change?

What’s interesting is it’s not only charities that employ this kind of creative in their ads. Heard about the new plans for cigarette packaging in Ireland? What about the TV ads from the RSA about speeding or drink driving? They’re incredibly negative and try to scare us into doing the opposite, plying us with the potential consequences of our actions. But they don’t work. If you’re like me, you will change the channel as soon as the ad comes on. I don’t want to see a car crash or a cancerous throat. Research has proven that these ads don’t work.

So why don’t they take a look at what the Aussies did in this safe driving campaign called “Slow Down and Enjoy the Ride”:

Since that campaign was run in 2010, speed related crashes are down 10% in Australia. The campaign also won the Grand Effie which is the most coveted advertising award in Australia.

Better yet and closer to home, take a look at what Cancer Research UK have done in their latest TV ad from December 2012:

Finally, here’s another great example of a safe driving campaign run in America. I heard about this one from a TED talk by Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Group

Drivers were originally shown how fast they were travelling, which they swiftly ignored. So the speed figure was done away with and replaced with either a sad face if you were over the speed limit or a happy face if you were under it. The result? The display cost 90% less than running a normal speed camera and prevented twice as many accidents. Nothing scary about this one; just a 🙂 or a :(.


(If you want to see the whole talk just click here and fast forward to 5:55 for the speed awareness campaign).

Do you know what’s remarkable about these ads? They’re not scary, they’re beautiful, positive and as a result, keep you engaged. I don’t want to switch off when I see them, I want to keep watching and I want to see them again. The positivity flowing from these ads is incredible, and, effective.

So from me to the charities and the Irish government alike, why can’t you learn from the successes of the past instead of replicating it’s failures? Your ads don’t work but I know a few that do. And hey, if you need a media agency to come up with a few ideas, I know a pretty good one of those too.

–          Mark






So, one of the big news stories last week was the resignation of Pope Benedict.  A move that has been heralded as one of the most radical and modern moves of the Catholic Church in years, a move that has sparked both speculation and criticism and a move that has us all talking.

If I am to be perfectly honest, the pope, what do I know of him, not a lot, however, I know more about him since his resignation that his ordination into the Catholic Church.  If I am to be cynical, I believe many Irish people will share this position with me. I took the time to have a look over the Irish search history of Pope Benedict – and low and behold, it seems we are only interested in when something big is happening, namely his ordination and resignation


I did however find out that the pope is active on Twitter. This intrigued me. You can tell quite a bit about someone, their interests, their guilty pleasures, their past times by who they follow on Twitter. For me, it’s brands, trends, music, entertainment, news and a whole load of funny people.  As for the Pope, here is his Twitter-life, he joined in December 2012, he has 1,564,068 followers, he follows only 8 people,  all of whom are his own account Tweeting in other languages! To date, he has sent 36 Tweets, his first reading “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless you all from my heart” and his latest Tweet, which has served to remind me that I still have my hand in the biscuit tin and have forgotten about Lent! “Lent is a favorable time in which to rediscover faith in God as the foundation of our lives and of the Church’s life”.

So, with my limited knowledge about the pope, what I can conclude is he is a modern type of guy, the pope’s surprise resignation has sent researchers scurrying through the text books for historical precedents- there are none. Coupled with his embracement of the world of social media at age 85- it seems Pope Benedict has had the last word.Image



Pancake Tuesday

February 12, 2013

Pancake Tuesday

So the Pope may have resigned yesterday but thankfully that hasn’t impeded on my favourite holiday of the Catholic calendar. Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday as it is more affectionately known is in full swing. Already trending on Twitter pancakes are top of mind today, and rightly so!

 Pancake Tuesday Trends on TwitterAnd it seems today isn’t the only day dedicated to celebrating pancakes. Brands are often seeking ways to associate themselves with different holidays and International House Of Pancakes is no different, (I’ll be first to admit that this is a natural fit). Launched on Pancake Tuesday in 2006 IHOP National Pancake Day is an initiative from the company to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and since then has raised over US$10 million. The idea is simple in return for a stack of buttermilk pancakes customers are asked to leave a small donation for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals© or other designated local charities. 


Finally to celebrate this great day here’s some fun facts about pancakes and pancake Tuesday; 

  • Traditionally the making of pancakes was in order to use up remaining stocks of ‘rich food’, i.e. eggs, flour and butter before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.
  • Today according to the Irish Egg Association some 15 million eggs will be used around the country in the making of pancakes, and 96% of us plan to enjoy at least one. 
  • The first recorded pancake race was in Olney, Buckinghamshire in England in 1445.
Onley Pancake Tuesday Race

Local housewives from Onley take part in the annual Pancake Race

  • It is customary in France to touch the handle of the frying pan and make a wish while the pancake is turned, holding a coin in one hand.
  • The current Guinness World Record for the most pancakes flipped in one minute is 117 – achieved by Aldo Zilli from Italy in February 2009.
  • The largest pancake ever made and flipped measured 15.01m wide, 2.5cm deep and weighed three tonnes.
  • The second side of a pancake only takes half the amount of time to cook as the first

Happy flipping!








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