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Last night, PBS presented the 3rd season finale episode of the period British drama Downton Abbey. Admittedly, I’ve been a fan ever since season one’s first episode and have followed both the series and its surprising impact on social media. With approximately 8 million viewers who watch on television each week and another 2.7 million streaming on the web, Downton has breathed new life into the financial future of PBS’ Masterpiece and created cultural buzz on many social media channels. This season alone the show’s ratings were 2nd only to the Super Bowl and Twitter traffic exploded following the unexpected ending last night (and in December when the show aired in the UK).
SPOILER ALERT: Major plot point to be revealed immediately.
An article in AdWeek earlier this month by David Griner noted that the influx of viewers has turned PBS’ Masterpiece into sponsorship gold. So why in the world did PBS find it necessary to roll out its tired old fundraising formula immediately following the griping finale? Viewers were still processing the images of the death of one of their favorite characters. Tweets were describing tears and shock and disbelief. But before viewers could even catch their breath, they were being beaten down by the relentless PBS-style pitch for support (e.g. for your gift of $120 you get…):
Fundraising premiums (also called contribution incentives) are a mainstay of PBS fundraising. Who hasn’t sat through one of their semi-annual fund drives and their infomercial style of fundraising through incentives (e.g. limited-time opportunity). Don’t get me wrong, I love that PBS is financially supported by the viewers that watch – and I expect them to ask us, frequently! But last night’s fundraising blitz made me wonder if perhaps they need to rethink their format or, at least, when and how they use it.
On the one hand, I can absolutely appreciate their desire to ride the wave of Downton’s popularity and convert all those brand new viewers to first-time donors. On the other hand, couldn’t the appeal been handled in a different way that actually engaged viewers (i.e. a brief, tasteful video featuring one of the cast; thanking viewers for watching and urging their support – rather than 30 minutes of non-stop premium pitch) and appealed to a broad demographic of their non-donor viewers.
Increasingly, surveys are showing that donors do not want to receive premium gifts of any kind. And younger individuals would be far more likely to respond to a different fundraising format, especially one that was authentically engaging and incorporated social media. I’ll be interested to see the result of last night’s fundraising effort. Did they strategy strengthen their brand and grow their donor base? Did donors stay tuned or tune out? We’ll follow up as data becomes available.
Until then, we’ll do our best to keep the topic of philanthropy current and relevant! In the words of Dame Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess of Grantham: “Oh good, let’s talk about money!”
On the eve of the next presidential debate, I learned of a new Obama campaign ad narrated by Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman. Since its weekend debut it has been viewed nearly 400,000 times on YouTube. Many pundits are citing this as what may be the campaign’s most striking TV ad this season.
The evocotive ad, called “Challenges” focuses on the President’s accomplishments rather than attacking his opponent, Mitt Romney. With the election three weeks away, many analysts are wondering about the timing of the ad’s positive tone. Others note that the constant barrage of negative political ads up until this point carries the risk of turning off voters. What do you think?
J.D. Power & Associates 2011 US Retail Bank New Account Study reveals that retail banking consumers are shopping for- and switching banks at an increasing rate.
The study, which examines the bank shopping and selection process, as well as customer satisfaction with the account initiation and on-boarding processes, finds that 8.7% of customers in 2011 indicate they switched their primary banking institution during the past year to a new provider, whereas just 7.7% said the same in 2010. On average, customers in 2011 say they considered 1.9 banks while shopping — up from an average of 1.6 banks in 2010.
Apparently banks that perform well in acquiring new customers — Chase, PNC and SunTrust, for example — tend to be aggressive in their advertising and promotions.
One Big Take Away
The study offers several important insights. One such take away was that customers who choose to stay with their current primary bank for additional products are most driven by positive past experience and perceptions that their bank is more focused on customers than on profits,” said Rockwell Clancy, VP/financial services at J.D. Power & Associates. “Clearly, banks that are not providing a noticeably better experience are more likely to lose the business of indifferent customers who are more easily lured by the next attractive promotional offer to come along.”
Read more about the 2011 US Retail Bank New Account Study.
MediaPost Publications reported today that commuters traveling through Washington D.C. and Atlanta train stations will encounter oversized barbells, digital cameras, high-heeled shoes and tricycles on their way to work.
MasterCard and SunTrust Bank are behind the initiative, which touts the benefits of using a MasterCard-branded Check Card from SunTrust. Cardholders can log on to a Web site to receive 20% to 30% off various online purchases.
“Overwhelming” is the campaign’s theme, which explains the massive props outside train stations. Most displays feature scannable QR codes that deliver consumers to a microsite that offers an “Overwhelming Offer” of the day.
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