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NCDL promotional leaflets

Within the world of advertising, salesmen employ many different methods to persuade their readers to part with their money. These methods are more prominent in adverts put forward by the various charities and voluntary organisations. Adverts and promotional documents developed by charities differ from that of other organisations in that they have little to offer in the way of physical merchandising. They do not offer a service to the reader, nor do they provide entertainment or amusement. And yet, still they request us to fund and sponsor their activities. They ask for money, and yet it seems they offer little or nothing in return.

For these reasons, such commercials and adverts fashioned by these organisations make very interesting subjects for study. Those employed to produce the aforementioned medial documents – across an assortment of mediums; television and radio; newspapers and magazines; the web; billboards and other similar publications; – must devise a variety of ways in which to promote their charity – that both appeals to the reader, and generates money.

Each charitable organisation uses many similar and many different methods to succeed. Two prime examples of this are the door-to-door leaflets both provided by the charities The NCDL, and ActionAid. We

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will give each one a brief description before continuing. NCDL (National Canine Defence League): This is a charitable organisation which endeavours to provide homes for dogs. It does this by offering the reader a chance to “sponsor a dog,” letting the reader focus upon one dog, and viewing its progress throughout the year via an assortment of updates. We will look at the advantages of such a promotion in a short while. It has over 18 homes dotted around the country, and although local to the UK, it is fairly successful.

ActionAid: This is a more international charity. Its purpose is to offer third-world countries money and support, and to encourage them to construct a future for themselves. It allows the reader to assist them in this quest, by requesting a monthly donation, or if this is deemed too much, a one-off contribution of a previously specified amount. Once again, the advantages and disadvantages of such and offer will be discussed later on.

Main Body: Just from this brief analysis, you can see that both these organisations use different methods to produce more or less the same thing; money. Why this is, is determined by many factors, some of which are… We will begin by looking at the heading of each advert. Both adverts give us a picture to start of with, alongside a bold title. However, with the first advert, for the NCDL, we are given a rather cute, photogenic picture of a dog, head slightly on its side and wide eyes staring up towards the viewer. The expression on the dogs face is arguably sad, although it can also be interpreted as friendly, or happy.

This lightens the tone of the advert, giving us an insight to the nature of the intended audience. A lighter, happier advert veers to perhaps a younger audience. This said, the appearance of the dog may also tug at the heartstrings of many, young or old, and either way is a somewhat attractive feature. The rhetorical question placed above it – “How much do you love me?” – can also be interpreted in several ways. First and foremost, it is obviously the dog talking; giving the dog the qualities of a human being and ‘personifying’ it in a way which gives it a unique character as would such a human individual. This is an effort to make us care as much about the dog(s) as we do our fellow homo sapiens. We find it easier to care about a character than to care about any old dog off the street.

Furthermore, the advert continues in this style, anthropomorphizing the dog to a larger extent. It tells us that – “For just one pound a week” – we can sponsor an abandoned dog like the one above. In contrast, the ActionAid ad uses much deeper techniques. It too combines both a photo and a rhetorical question. It’s image though, depicts a small child, crying, and asks the question – “What if we all sponsored a child?” This is much more thought provoking, and suggests the charity is aiming for an older audience, due to the more aggressive feelings it incites; guilt, pity, sorrow.

Throughout the next paragraph, the NCDL advert quite cleverly gives out information on its organisation, by adding bits onto the end, or in between, its sentences. This allows it to continue with its loose style, and the first-person perspective, and still provides the reader with information – though older readers may desire more than is given. The language used is basic, the text is large and bold, and throughout the advert the point is made about how little money it is to pay.

This is our largest clue as to the audience; the price is well within the boundaries of most children, and most children will be able to understand the advert. In effect, the simple design of the whole advert, from the heading, to the form at the bottom, is very simple. On the contrary, the form at the foot of the ActionAid ad is rather complicated, and is not the most appealing to younger viewers. It’s text is small, and it uses a more complex vocabulary and sentence structure.

It states exactly what you will get in return for your sponsorship, and what your money will do. It reassures you as to where your money is going, and tries to dissipate any doubts you might have about the charity – these are the fears of older customers, proof once again that this ad is trying for a more mature audience. The NCDL, however, tries to sway it’s readers with incentives, such as certificates, updates, and the apparent promise of “unconditional love from your new friend.” This is effective in its own way, as you will see.


Both adverts are effected by the factors discussed before. The NCDL needs only a relatively small amount of money for it’s purpose, and so it’s target audience is younger than that of other charities. It’s cause will also appeal more to those of a younger age. ActionAid needs a greater amount of income to support itself, and so is forced to target an older audience. It’s audience is reflected in its more elaborate use of language, and the use of emotive words and phrases. To win over its readers, it must play upon their feelings, make them feel guilty for not donating, something which also only works on an older audience.

On the other hand, the NCDL uses incentives to gain supporters, once again suggesting a younger audience. It offers the reader certificates and similar merchandising for their money, although it still uses some of the techniques of the abovementioned ActionAid advert. Neither of these methods are right or wrong. The NCDL tries to mislead the reader into thinking that he or she are not donating money, but instead buying overpriced certificates on their chosen dog, and novel birthday greetings from their desired canine. ActionAid belligerently attacks the reader with guilt and shame, forcing the reader to donate money merely for piece of mind.

Put this bluntly, each sounds rather malicious and aggressive, but then again, for charities, advertising is a complex business, whereby the commercial designer is requested to advertise the sale of something that does not exist. Both adverts are trying to sell to the reader feeling and emotions, a hard task by anyone’s standards. This is why charitable adverts make for an interesting study, and why their techniques are so appealing for comparison.

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