KETTLE – Tipping Point

Cause (BRONZE)

Client Credits: The Salvation Army
National Director of Marketing and Communications, John McAlister

Agency Credits: GREY
Chief Creative Officer, Patrick Scissons
Creative Director, James Ansley
Art Director, Yusong Zhang
Writer, James Ansley
Producer, Sam Benson
President & CEO/Account Director, Stephanie Nerlich
Account Director, Jennifer Kinrys
Planner, Malcolm Mclean
Production Company: Nexus
Retouching: Time-Based Arts
Sound Design: Fonic / Audio House for Radio: The Eggplant Collective
Chief Creative Officer, Patrick Scissons
Creative Director, James Ansley
Art Director, Yusong Zhang
Writer, James Ansley
Producer, Sam Benson
President & CEO/Account Director, Stephanie Nerlich
Account Director, Jennifer Kinrys
Planner, Malcolm Mclean
Photographer: Shanghoon


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):APRIL 1 2013 – MARCH 31 2014
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: May 6, 2013*
Base Period as a Benchmark: APRIL 1 2011 – MARCH 31, 2013

a) Overall Assessment

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

--Winston Churchill


The Salvation Army is the largest non-­governmental provider of social services in Canada. The Salvation Army offers practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life, providing shelter for homeless people and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives due to addiction.

The Canadian public has the option to donate to over 80,000 charities in North America. This has led to increasing competition for share of mind and share of wallet. Category studies showed that 50% of Canadian charities are seeing increased demand and having a harder time fulfilling their missions.

To complicate matters, “both the amount donated to charities by taxfilers and the number of people reporting charitable donations fell from 2011 to 2012. Donations reported by taxfilers declined 1.9% to $8.3 billion in 2012, while the number of people reporting charitable donations on their 2012 income tax return decreased by 1.4% to 5.6 million.”  (Source;

These figures are concerning since The Salvation Army relies on public donations to fulfill its mission, and the Christmas period is particularly important.

Adding to the problem, The Salvation Army has high awareness with the public, but low relevancy (Salvation Army research). 

b) Resulting Business Objectives

The goals were clear, we had to.

-       Drive more donations than Christmas 2012.

-       Create relevancy; help Canadians see past the perception of an old persons charity by generating greater interest in the social organization itself.  One way we’d measure success would be to see an Increase in web traffic.

c) Annual Media Budget
$2 - $3 million

d) Geographic Area
National CANADA

a) Analysis and Insight

We dove in to gain a deeper understanding of Canadians attitudes to social giving. We reviewed The Salvation Army’s own research and interviewed countless stakeholders, from internal Soldiers and Captains to aid workers across the Army’s hundreds of outposts.

The facts were clear, despite the clichéd perceptions that The Salvation Army was an old staid charity -­ those in need were growing in great numbers, getting younger and much more racially diverse than even initial hypotheses suggested.

This perception of an old persons charity had developed due to changes in the marketplace; Newer and more current charities that had been popping up with causes that may appear more catered towards current trends.

Our research revealed the most important thing that Canadians required when deciding to donate to a charity was a demonstration of tangible results.

And while Canadians need to see their donations affect change (a tangible result), our brand icon (the kettle or most often “ the red bucket”) had become a barrier as Canadians were beginning to see donations to The Salvation Army as “a drop in the bucket”.

We knew this barrier would have to be addressed if we were going to increase donations.

And it was hearing more about actual cases and listening to real experiences that revealed another defining insight: that those in the most need hold their largest hopes for small immediate things (a bed to sleep in, food to eat), not the big things (a lottery win) that the public might expect. 

b) Communication Strategy

Together this led us to a rallying cry for the campaign that could be summed up simply with the following quote.


“That is the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.”

Malcolm Gladwell 


Given a huge portion of the donations received by The Salvation Army is via the kettle collection mechanism, we had to demonstrate how effective a drop in the bucket could be.

a) Media Used




b) Creative Discussion

We needed to show what most Canadians take for granted, and highlight how the smallest of donations (a coin in a kettle) could have an immediate impact resulting in a “tipping point”.

In television to demonstrate the transforming power that a donation to a kettle has, we created three simple animated spots where a single dollar drastically changes someone’s circumstances for the better ---literally lifting them up.

In radio, our approach allowed the listener to experience the thoughts of a homeless person imagining their life was essentially the same but with one small wish fulfilled, a small change from change.

In OOH, we demonstrated that the more money placed in kettles, the more one can make change in this critical issue.


c) Media Discussion

As The Salvation Army is a charity with needs across the country we had to reach the most number of Canadians possible. Television, radio and OOH allowed for the greatest reach without sacrificing the ability to tell the stories of those in need.

Television was delivered through a national media buy through our partners at Mediacom while radio and OOH offered opportunities for the local SA chapters to get involved.

a) Sales/Share Results

The impact of our “TIPPING POINT” campaign was significant.

On our goal to increase donations we grew donation revenue through the period by 5%, against a reported negative charitable contributions universe. (Source Statistics Canada) Off a large base – this is significant with over $185 million raised and a record breaking Christmas season with more than $21 million raised in 6 weeks.

The Canadian charity landscape continues to struggle. The top 5 charity brands in Canada include The Canadian Red Cross, World Vision Canada, Canadian Cancer Society, The Salvation Army and The Heart & Stroke Foundation. Combined these organization raise nearly $1.2 billion dollars annually. Yet according to audited financial statements this group’s combined revenue was down (5.35% or a net reduction of $67.8 million dollars) with only The Salvation Army showing growth.

“We are truly thankful for the support we receive from our partners, donors and volunteers says Captain Les Marshall, PR & Development Secretary for The Salvation Army. “This year despite unprecedented weather that wreaked havoc across the nation Canadians rose to the occasion giving generously at kettles from coast to coast.”

On our goal of increasing relevancy and driving web traffic we were also successful.

Web traffic increased +18% vya measured by both sessions and unique users and page views were up an astonishing 21%.


Additionally, The creative work garnered media attention and industry acknowledgement, winning awards at The Crystals, The One Show, Applied Arts, Art Directors Club, and was nominated for a yellow pencil at the coveted D&AD.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

As a national charitable organization The Salvation Army relies on the generosity of Canadians to fulfill its mission. Our campaign provided a tipping point to deliver on even more needs than in prior years.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

The budget for the campaign was flat vya, in fact media spending had been flat for 4 years running. Results were not driven by an increase in spending. 



Distribution Changes:

In 2012 there were 2635 kettles collecting donations across the country – In 2013, 13 new kettles were added or .4% increase in points of distribution. In the prior year the average kettle raised just over $7500, this year the average kettle delivered over $8000.

Unusual Promotional Activity:


Other Potential Causes:

Since many of the kettles are located outdoors on street corners and most of the country experienced record low temperatures in December of this year, we had anticipated a decline in kettles visits. Though our results are incredibly strong – had mother nature been on our side, maybe they could have been even stronger.