Chapter 18 Pampers Silent Night Raises $40 Million for Charity
There is nothing especially novel about companies adding a philanthropic dimension to their operations, as aptly demonstrated by Pampers’ campaign which pledged 1 tetanus vaccine for third-world children per pack of diapers purchased.
Unlike most Christmas ads, however, this campaign did away with all the traditional sparkle and exuberance of the season, with the only reference being in the softly hummed song ‘silent night.’
The ad shows a number of sleeping babies from around the world before simply informing the viewer of the company’s charitable program.
The advertisement operates on a number of emotional levels.
The song is a metaphoric word-play, referencing the season while also conjuring the idea of a baby staying dry and sleeping through the night.
The images are exclusively of young babies which, much like cute animals, have a propensity to capture attention and evoke emotion, especially that of mothers.
Finally, the vaccine offer implicitly raises the notion of sick and dying children around the world, tapping into the audience’s sympathy and inviting them to get involved in the cause and purchase Pampers’ product.
As the ad’s creator, Tris Gates-Bonarius, explains, people often want to look away from “types of ads that show children in a sad way,” even if they then feel guilty for their reaction. Conversely, the Pampers campaign attempts to appeal to emotions of sympathy much more subtly to motivate customers without driving them away.
The campaign proceeded to be a resounding success, and by 2008 over 40 million vaccines had been funded.
It then proceeded to diverge in two different directions.
A new ad championing the philanthropy again showed a number of mothers and children from around the world and explained the cause. Meanwhile, the sleeping babies ad has been re-run as a Christmas campaign but without the philanthropic element. Crucially, the messages of charity and silent nights in each ad have been retained from the first version; Pampers has successfully split a single campaign into two, separately maintaining Christmas and charity themes.
Holiday Marketing Takeaway
Make philanthropy a part of the customer experience to give consumers another reason to visit your store — and feel good about themselves in the process.
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