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Cause Advertising: Lessons From Noah Ark’s Boko Halal Campaign


Advertise (1)ACCORDING to advertising innovator and iconoclast, Howard Luck Gossage, “advertising justifies its existence when used in the public interest — it is much too powerful a tool to use solely for commercial purposes.”

This assertion by a guru fondly referred to as “The Socrates of San Francisco,” during the “Mad Men” era, is unanimously agreed upon by advertising experts.

Despite several criticism of advertising as an obnoxious approach deployed by companies to invade our everyday lives and force their products down our throats, it can never be denied that advertisement is arguably an indispensable tool that can never be wished away because of its enormous merits.

A well-made advertisement is designed to arrest your attention and to remain in our memory long after we have left it behind. That is exactly what most social causes need. This is important for advocacy, raising public support and affecting meaningful changes. Just like with commercial advertisements, having just the facts is not enough. They are important, but the ad must also appeal to the observer’s emotions.

Some of these ads with lasting impact include “Unhate” campaign crafted by Italian advertising agency, Fabrica; “Each Minute Counts” by German-based Scholz & Friends; and “What Goes Around Comes Around” of Big Ant International, New York, USA.

Unlike commercial advertising, cause advertising is considered to be undertaken in the interest of a group or the public, and typically does not promote a product or service. Funding for cause advertising can be through non-profit organisations, by corporations or private advocacy groups.

Cause advertising may still be relatively new in Nigeria but Noah’s Ark, an innovative advertising agency based in Lagos, has been fronting a cause advertising and advocacy campaign tagged ‘Boko Halal’ (education is good) since the Chibok girls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorists via simple and harmless ads.

With new theme #PutYourselfinTheirShoes, the agency allows individuals to empathise with the girls and their families by uploading their faces behind a veil with a mobile image-resizing app designed by the initiator.

In this year’s campaign, Noah’s Ark is putting faces of popular figures like President Muhammadu Buhari, his Chadian and Cameroonian counterparts, Idris Derby and Paul Biya, respectively, behind a pudah or veil made by a mobile image-resizing app in an attempt to deepen the campaign.

Group Managing Director of the agency, Lanre Adisa said the firm has taken it upon itself to help charities to champion social causes just to do well for their environments. He added that the decision to approach the Chibok girls issue through an advertising campaign was borne out of the concern for the girls and their parents who, for over a year, have been in great agony.

On whether the objective of the campaign would not be misconstrued, Adisa said the campaign is basically not about any political leader but rather a call for support for the Chibok girls.

His words: “The first thing is that it is not about whoever is in power because whoever goes out there and says I want to lead Nigeria or lead a company, irrespective of who was there before him or what happened before such leader came into office, has to take that responsibility.

The campaign is about Nigeria. It is not about former president Goodluck Jonathan or President Muhammadu Buhari; it is a non-partisan thing.

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