Category: News

Top ten charity campaigns of 2015

Well done to all those charities who have run bold campaigns in 2015. Not an easy year for the sector with many mergers still on the table, negative stories about about how charities operate in getting their vital funds, the debacle of the Kids Company closing and the Edelman Trust barometer showing trust in charities down 17%.

My top 10 charity campaigns this year are:

Greenpeace Awesome Again

It was good to see Greenpeace’s action in 2014 and mobilising millions to stop the Lego Shell partnership in 2015. Without Greenpeace, life would be much less interesting (and less organisations would be kept in check).

Je Suis Charlie

Not a charity but certainly a cause, I’m sure most would agree the Je Suis Charlie events were a critical response to the threat against the freedom of speech, inspired by the terrible attacks in France on 7th January 2015.

This Girl Can

I loved This Girl Can campaign developed by Sport England as a celebration of active women doing their thing no matter how well they do it or how they look.

Big Issue Baristas

A very innovative and entrepreneurial way to diversify the work homeless people can do, by training them to make and sell cappuccinos – with eight carts in London, I wish it all the best.

Amnesty’s Virtual Reality ‘Aleppo’ Street

It’s tough bringing home your message and this campaign does just that with specially created headsets. It aims to transport people to a Syrian street to show the destructive effects of barrel bombs.

St John’s Ambulance ‘Chokeables’

st johns

A brilliant idea, using regular ‘chokables’ as the main characters, with voice-overs from Johnny Vegas and David Mitchell, adding weight.

The Lord’s Prayer ad (Just Pray)


The Church of England planned to run the spot before showings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, opening on 18 December. As an aside, The Odeon, Cineworld and Vue refused to show The Lord’s Prayer ad . The spot launched the Church of England’s website, which encourages prayer and offers tutorials.

I Saw Your Willy / Share Aware

NSPCC’s great campaign encourages children to think about what they share online; with this campaign they have developed a partnership with 02.

Life-changing Learning


The Open University has captured the strength of mind, effort and reward that comes from studying a part-time degree – a nice brand builder.

Unicef Snapchat of Nigeria

Unicef recruited Snapchat artists to redraw the pictures made by some of the 800,000 children forced to flee their homes in Nigeria, as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the horrific impact of the Boko Haram crisis on Nigerian children.

These charity campaigns are all brave and ambitious – but more importantly speak to us in a straightforward language, and in my view, increase the perceived value of the charities’ role on the issues. I believe they have every chance of driving new supporters and partnerships.

Wishing you all a great Christmas and New Year.

Giles Robertson, Director of Green Banana Marketing Ltd and independent Marketing Consultant, Marketing Society Fellow, Board Member, Marine Conservation Society

Follow him on twitter @gogreenbanana and Linkedin or email at

Five questions to ask of your blockbuster charity film

It’s time to make that all defining film about your charity (or yourself?). The problem is, where do you start? Your content list runs to ten minutes and your main spokesperson sounds like Kevin Spacey at the end of his tether in American Beauty, which is not going to win you new support.

We’ve just made a great promo film about Green Banana Marketing with sister company, Five on a Bike. Four edits later and we were very happy with the results. That’s not bad for a 7-year-old company with dozens of client projects – we’ve seen some films go into double digit edits. Here are my six questions for you to consider, which helped keep me on track and to fewer edits:

Do you have an idea of what you want to say?

It’s great to consider what your key messages are right up front. The really hard job is being tough on what you’d like to show to which audience. Try and list the two or three take-outs you’d like to have from the film. For us, it was showing the value we could bring to people’s work through the story of our projects.Image from edit suite of Green Banana Marketing film

Are you are clear who it is for?

Showing what you do to a group of school kids is very different to presenting to the senior board at Santander. There may be similarities, but I imagine it’s two difference audiences with different needs. Businesses like to see your flair, the impacts of your work and what a likely partnership will deliver. And school kids are no different; they want to be inspired and see how things have changed because of your work. Sometimes explaining the basics of what you do, can be a great start. I remember in one presentation with my Marine Conservation Society trustee hat on, one speaker outlined all that they did related to marine biology, and at the end of the session, the first question was ‘what does a marine biologist do?” Oh dear. For us at Green Banana Marketing, we hoped to speak directly to Marketing Directors of development, fair trade, health, conservation and human rights charities.

What are you hoping as a result of the film?

Is your film a shortcut way of introducing what you do? Or is it an “ask” to show what more could be done with some extra resource? Two very different scenarios –again if this is done right, it can pay dividends. I know one corporate partner film, which allegedly paid for itself within the first six months for a development charity.

How is your brand featured?

Introducing the feel of your organisation throughout is a real art, whether it’s your logo on runners vests doing the Marathon, or campaigning pledges reaching their target, it helps to weave your brand into the story. And of course, do start and end your film with your brand and your mission and finish with a ‘view’ of your vision and your ask for the future.See how the storyboard for Salix / Department for Education compares to final film

Will you do an overview of all your work or slice through one area?

Images do speak a thousand words, but sometimes you forget, if images are not explained with a simple title e.g. “Fracking protest outside Chequers”, they can be abstract and rather off putting.  Start by writing down all the content you think should be in the film, it will end up being enough content for The Godfather part 1 and 2. But never mind, it’s a start.  It’s easier to explain a problem through a story; how your organisation was the hero who overcame the villain, the approach it took and the style of how it works. Telling your story through one person’s perspective always helps. You forget how complex your organisation is and people can really only take in a handful of messages at a time. Mario’s personal battle with cancer and the support he got from Macmillan Cancer Support hits me hard in this film and I get exactly what he went through, what the charity did for him – even within this small focus of their work. Do take the leap and make a film about your charity work – answer the hard questions first and you’ll save time as well as money on the editing floor. And of course, we could help make it very good for you.

Shortcuts Stand out from the crowd – need to know brand and marketing essentials


Your invitation to Green Banana Marketing’s next Shortcuts event
View this email in your browser

Shortcuts Series

Standout from the crowd – need to know brand and marketing essentials

Free Shortcuts seminar – Tuesday 10th September 2015 9 – 10am

Green Banana Marketing invite you to their free Charity Shortcuts seminar on Tuesday 10 September 2015 at 9am.

Charities need good marketing more than ever – with great pressures to gain new supporters (and more charities to standout from), building your appeal and what you stand for is essential.

Having a strong brand and marketing focus has never mattered more.

This innovative hours workshop will change the way you think about marketing and leave you bursting with ideas on how to build your brand personality, standout from the crowd and attract new supporters to your organisation.

Previous delegates said of the seminar; “very useful and inspiring – the fundamentals of marketing”

We would very much like to see you and a colleague at this Free Shortcuts seminar on Tuesday 10th September 2015 at 9am for one hour at the O2 Workshop, 229 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T7QG.

Places are limited to 20, so please do click here now to subscribe and book your free place.

‘Shortcuts’ seminars are intended to give you the most important information in the one-hour session. Drinks, cakes and a friendly networking session will follow the seminar. 

We look forward to seeing you there!

Kind regards,

Follow us on Twitter
Visit our website
Date: 10th September 2015Time:

9 – 10 am


02 Workshop

229 Tottenham Court Rd


Green Banana Marketing shortcut seminar




Happy Christmas from Green Banana Marketing

GBM Christmas card 2014

The optimism of action


It was back in 2005 that I launched the Marketing Society not-for-profit group – a small thought leadership group for charity marketing folk. The Marketing Society backed the new group and have been stellar supporters ever since of charity and cause related marketing. Little did I know then that the Society would honour me with a Fellowship all these years later. I have admired previous Fellows, and secretly each year at the ceremony, wondered how they managed to achieve their awards…

Receiving the award was a good moment to reflect on the charity sector and the work we’ve done. Above all else, the thing that stands out most is the real passion people in those organisations have for their causes and for making a difference. This, to coin the words of Greenpeace, has often meant “stopping wrongs”, which is not a bad thing to say about your day job!

A redefined Marketing Society vision is also more hands-on and about making a difference in your work; “inspiring bolder leadership” including the work to support sustainability and good causes.

Charities have also taken a long hard look at their visions to meet the needs of today’s demanding supporters who want more transparency and greater action. Macmillan are about supporting and being there for the journey with cancer, Oxfam are about changing lives for the better – lifting people out of poverty. Charities have become more action oriented around fewer issues, which is a good thing. Passion and leadership doesn’t have to come from the global North.  Companies like Unilever with their 5 Levers for change and the Fairtrade Foundation, addressing sustainability and poverty, have found that people care as deeply about sustainability in emerging markets such as China and Brazil, and these countries now bring great leadership and inspiration to the table.

And organisations like Amnesty have relocated their resources to be closer to where human rights abuses are happening.  There is no point in standing on the edge of the issue. I remember Blake Lee-Harwood at one event, Greenpeace’s then Director of Campaigns, telling us how Greenpeace ‘practiced what they preached’. Still guided by the words of one of the early founders, Harald Zindler – “the optimism of the action is better than the pessimism of the thought”. Today all members of Greenpeace staff are expected to ‘stop a wrong’ or to try and ‘replace it with a right’. It is simplicity and passion at work. Take their fight against Lego partnering with Shell, who are battling to dig up the Artic, and you see the same approach at work. Seb Coe talked about his role in bringing the Olympic games to Africa, one of his stated dreams, at a Marketing Society hosted evening. His vision is to make health and sport a part of everyone’s life and normalise disability in sport. I hope that the Marketing Society continue to play a pivotal role in inspiring people to see optimism and opportunity in life changing action.

Is Apple’s response to workers conditions good enough?

So Apple have announced the biggest audit of the conditions of its supply chain factories of its kind.  They are the first phone manufacturer to sign up to the Fair Labour Association (FLA).  Staff working in Foxconn, the factory used by Apple in China, have had pay rises, in some cases trebling pay over three years to 1,800 – 2,400 yuan a month, which is about £180 to £240.  First reports are that the factories are nice and clean.  The full report is due out in March and we wait with interest to see all the details.  At least something is being done, so can I breathe a sigh of relief?

Well, scratch a little deeper and you’ll see that the FLA have been involved with, up to now, audits of garment factories.  This is a sector with the most appalling reputation in many developing countries.  A computer factory is always going to be cleaner, as computers have to be made in the most sterile environment or they won’t work.

Photo: Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images

ABC News’ Nightline TV programme in the US last night showed a documentary on the conditions of workers in an Apple factory.  The factory line is portrayed in its soulless and sterile state.  The workers are completely silent and the only voices are robotic.  The latest news is that Foxconn are considering investing millions in robotic automation.  I guess these robots won’t threaten to jump off the factory roofs, their legs won’t swell after standing for 14 hour shifts and they won’t be requiring social justice anytime soon.

How effective are the audits? The most publicised supplier up to now that has used FLA services is Nike, after a similar spate of bad publicity surrounding its workforce practice.   Their latest audit report reveals that there are still areas of health and safety and social security issues to be addressed.  So improvements take time.  Nike have a target of being fully compliant by 2013.

The supply chain of suffering extends to the Congo, where the highly toxic mineral, Coltan, core to the mobile phone industry, is mined often using child labour who die from disease, starvation and unsafe working conditions.

There are higher standards to aim for than the absence of cruelty and the meeting of basic human rights.   The ISO 26000 produced last year exhorts all businesses to show dignity and respect for their workers.  These things can’t be measured by a tickbox.

Voluntary standards have been adopted by other sectors. The Equator Principles introduced by the banking sector has raised awareness of environmental and social issues amongst businesses.  The Courtauld Agreement has members from  the retail sector who agreed to reduce their packaging.  This has had the result of avoiding over 1.2 million tonnes of food and packaging going to landfill.  I would like to see a similar pact amongst those producing computers and phones to reduce the mining impacts.  Fairtrade reduced the chemicals used in coffee production by 80%.  Let’s call on Apple to do the same for the mining of minerals used in hi- tech industries.

Apple have chosen an evocative image for its brand, all shiny, smelling of New York bustle and American home baked pies. Now the challenge is for Apple to embody the qualities that it so successfully projects.

I, as an Apple user, want to know that my phone is made with the least environmental damage and by a happy workforce. I’d like my phone maker to appear in the top environmental and ethical companies. I want to know that some of their lovely profit is being ploughed back into the communities who produce their polished products. I’d like a Coltan free phone, can Apple lead the way on this? When I sit down with a Fairtrade coffee to make a call I want to know that I am making a positive difference to someone’s life with my phone as well as my coffee.  Is that too much to ask?

If you are asking how your company can be the most ethically responsible it can be, contact  Green Banana Marketing has worked with socially responsible brands like Fairtrade and understands that companies need to practice what they promote and lead by example.  Achieving high ethical and sustainable standards is a journey and Green Banana Marketing is producing step-by-step guides to help you get to your destination. Ask us how.

Giles Robertson is the founder of Green Banana Marketing Ltd and Chairman of the Marketing Society Charity Group.

Emerging countries innovating could be our sustainable key

You don’t often leave a day’s conference with a Trashion bag made from recycled packaging. This was part of ‘turning waste into style’, one of Unilever’s initiatives harnessing local Indonesian creativity and creating 25 fashion lines from waste packaging.

Unilever’s Keith Weed pledged at The Marketing Society’s Annual Conference to halve emissions from his 4,000 products (as diverse as Marmite and Dove soap) by 2020. Who can blame him for injecting some creativity into embedding sustainability – it is now core to Unilever’s business. The scale of the challenge is clear with 68% of emissions coming from product use.

Imagining tomorrow’s products is one of their approaches (think Comfort’s One Rinse detergent which needs less water to wash clothes) alongside working with the right ‘expert’ NGO partners to help them on their journey.

As the global population booms and we see a shift of power from G7 to E7 countries, Keith said it is important for companies to be transparent (as people are increasingly interested in companies) and to be honest with what is achievable (if the whole planet lived like we do in the West we would need an extra three planets to support us).
The International Airlines Group CEO, Willie Walsh claimed reducing emissions could be achieved through the use of biomass plants to create aviation fuel and by rationalising air traffic control into one system, allegedly saving 12% of CO.  Perhaps more leadership in driving such innovation through to a workable proposal is needed from Willie himself?

Emerging economies such as Indian, China and Brazil are also key to addressing global sustainability.  Dr Tim Lucas from Sao Paolo’s The Listening Agency talked about Brazil’s uniqueness  – on track to be the fifth largest economy. Brands are respected and a fierce class hierarchy exists which has driven many companies to have sub brands to co-exist in completely different parts of town.  Perhaps a shared approach to product sustainability and recycling could unify company approaches- something few brands have attempted.

Ajayan Gopinathan from The Philosophers Stone discussed Indian’s motivations and desires. The world’s third largest economy is clearly enjoying a boom. 32% of the population are under 15 years of age and kid’s parent pester power is king when it comes to certain brands. Young people think they can do anything, an energy brands could harness for the good of the people and the planet.

Brands new to this market need to touch people with narrative stories that fuse cultures in sensitive and real ways. Indians are people oriented and very proud of their country.  Over 865 million have mobile phones and there are 400 TV channels – many of them local.

We’ve learnt from our work in emerging markets like China and Brazil that people care deeply about sustainability.  Companies who tailor their approach supported with on the ground projects making a real difference, stand to be part of the country’s fabric for the next decade.

Poles apart – the slippery art of media climate scepticism

Launching at my client the British Council, the report was never going to be a ‘one size fits all’ in this ambitious report looking at climate scepticism in the world’s media (well big chunks of it including Brazil, China, France, India, the UK and the USA).

The economic downturn has been a diversion away from media reporting on climate change. The related issue about the lack of any media reporting on climate change was noted and that when it is reported, Climate scepticism seems to make for a better headline.

The world is a much tougher place for anything to do with the environment or climate change – not just with news coverage, but for funding and advocacy work.  Many organisations have moved CSR and sustainability to be part of product innovation (looking at supply chain and procurement). The focus is now on hard sales. All this is an important backdrop for the British media (and its increasingly negative reporting).

The launch by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (executive summary can be downloaded here) examined 3,000 articles from two newspapers in each country. It was really the tip of the media iceberg without looking at broadcast media and the direct roles of world leaders such as Obama, Sarkosy and Cameron.

The Anglo Saxon media are the most climate sceptic (The Express had the most at 50%) followed by the US, who are twice as wedded to fossil fuels.

In contract the French media have a deep-rooted trust of scientists and therefore do not question as much (the facts speak for themselves with their 80% reliance on nuclear).

It is also interesting that China’s media tend not to question the science but to focus on what can be done to deal with climate change.  Maybe there’s something to learn from them?

One wonders where newsrooms editors can go with climate change – the discourse seems to have been locked out while Rome burns.

Future of fishing: last chance to save fish stocks

In my capacity as Trustee of the Marine Conservation Society I attended the coalition of the UK’s leading environmental and conservation organisations, including WWF, Greenpeace, RSPB, Marine Conservation Society (MCS), ClientEarth, nef (new economics foundation), and OCEAN2012, response to the UK Government and the publication of the reform proposals. The coalition delivered their joint objectives for the Common Fisheries Policy to key decision-makers at the Zoological Society of London last night. The UK fisheries minister, Richard Benyon MP delivered the government’s response. Fisheries campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who led the FishFight campaign, responded in relation to discards.

  • The current proposal fails to:
  • Put the environment first for people’s sake
  • Provide tools to reduce capacity in line with the available resources
  • Make access to resources conditional on social and environmental criteria

The NGOs asked the UK Government to ensure a Common Fisheries Policy that delivers rather than undermines. On behalf of the NGO coalition, Ian Campbell added: “A reformed Common Fisheries Policy must establish a new way to distribute access to fish. Sustainability criteria should be used to rank access to resources, favouring those who employ methods which have the least impact on marine habitats and non-target species, are most selective, most fuel-efficient, and those who can demonstrate strong legal compliance and operate within and contribute to coastal communities.”

The groups said despite some positive measures, such as the commitment to stock recovery by 2015, there were too many shortcomings that if not addressed by Ministers and MEPs, could undermine any chance of meaningful reform. A reformed CFP must:

  • Put the environment first to make sure that fish stocks, the marine environment and fisheries can thrive
  • Set legally binding sustainable fishing levels that cannot be exceeded by law-makers or fishers
  • Eliminate discards
  • Deliver transparent decision-making and reporting processes to measure performance
  • Properly address the issue of overcapacity in the European fleet

Reacting to the Commission’s announcement, UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon MP said that his number one priority was eliminating discards and ensuring that the Marine Act overcame the many silos that are associated with fisheries policy and to deliver a reform of the ‘broken’ Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Debbie Crockard, Fisheries Policy Officer of the Marine Conservation Society said:

“It is outrageous that we are paying for sound scientific advice to be conducted by world experts, only for it to be disregarded as the baseline for stock management. Scientific advice must be considered the most important driver for sustainable fisheries management.”

The Marine Conservation Society’s new Good Fish Guide launches

As a Trustee of MCS I am pleased to say that the excellent new Good Fish Guide has been launched – with a new print pocket Good Fish Guide here and new website.   A huge amount of work goes into assessing over 150 species and numerous stocks of each fish, drawing on myriad sources of information.  The pocket guide has already been downloaded many times by the public.  Now the work has been done, please do your bit for our seas. Fish are disappearing fast from our seas and you can make a difference by simply making more sustainable choices when buying seafood.

Despite the competition for media this week, there has been some good coverage about MSC new guide:-

Supermarkets criticised for ‘poor and confusing’ fish labelling

The Guardian – ‎May 4, 2011‎

Fish retail labels ‘inadequate’

BBC News – ‎May 4, 2011‎