Campaign of the Week – Penny for London
An article in the Evening Standard last week sparked my interest in particular as it is a new example of how seamless digital technology is in everyday life. Contactless payments are now accepted by TFL which brought with it the world’s first city-wide contactless payment giving scheme: Penny for London. This creative micro-donation scheme was just launched by Mayor Boris Johnson and allows Londoners to donate as little as 1p every time they make a contactless payment.
The campaign has a very clever play-on-words hashtag #easy1peasy which I immediately searched in Twitterland. Sadly it appears the spammers have taken hold of the hashtag and I was surprised not to find many tweets from the official Twitter profile @pennyforlondon in the stream. The official profile raised my eyebrows further: hardly any posts, precious like engagement and no invitation for the audience to participate. To cap it all off, despite the editorial in ES, only 143 followers.
M&C Saatchi developed the branding, design and logos, which all feature the image of the coin. The creative features what I would call a dirty penny – not a shiny bright one which I would perceive as a more positive association. Was the dirty penny chosen to seem less valuable? The penny themed campaign brought this rather telling comment by the CEO at the Mayor’s Fund for London: “What could be more brutally simple than Penny for London?”, Mr Matthew Patten said in the press release. The result of the tarnished penny choice is the brand colours are brown and white. I fear by trying to speak to every man in the tube, this campaign will strike no chord with the all-important early adopters.
It’s new, it’s hot, it’s a first, it’s accessible and it’s feel-good – the concept is brilliant and should yield loads of donations. In order to take off, the campaign has to drive participation and buzz via social media. So far the PR benefits are not translating into a Twitter following and without these early signs of groundswell, the long-term success of this first-of-it’s-kind project could be in question.
The integrated campaign includes bus wraps, PR, radio, digital, social media and online which will expose the message to a large audience. I found an official YouTube video
introducing the project – the film is full of models/actors and is fairly devoid of personality or genuine feeling. The social media content includes the penny coin overlaid on what feels very much like stock imagery. The number of tweets and RTs for both of these pieces of content form the basis of my misgivings about the strength of this campaign.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, also commented on the campaign: “Penny for London is a big, bold idea that will revolutionise the way we give to charity. Enabling people travelling around the city to pool their pennies could potentially add up to hundreds of thousands of pounds.” Funds raised will be distributed to a wide range of London charities and organisations working with disadvantaged young Londoners in the Capital.
With planting strong grassroots support via social media, I believe the campaign risks being loud and expensive up front without building the necessary blocks to reach critical mass. A hashtag and a Twitter handle doth not a social media strategy make.
Have you signed up to donate a Penny for London? I have. Tweet me about this campaign @gertrudeandivy.