In the wake of last week’s riots everyone in the UK has had to consider the action of the rioters and the underlying implications of their behaviour about our society. Parliament was recalled, politicians cut short their holidays and even our much beloved political commentator David Dimbleby was wheeled back in to chair the BBC’s Question Time, putting the public’s questions to heads of media, youth worker agencies, religion and politics. All in all it has been a time of serious debate and contemplation, as indeed it should.
However, every cloud has a silver lining and in the worst times we often glimpse the best in people. Happily, the same can be said of the London ad agency community. Some agencies stepped up and used their knowledge of social media to galvanise support for the clean up efforts.
Digital agency Dare created, in astonishing speed,www.thisisourlondon.com/, a site that acts as a hub for clean up efforts, featuring inspiring images, a Twitter feed gathering relevant Tweets and even its web address deftly expresses the defiance felt by many Londoners, reclaiming London’s identity from the aggression of the rioters. And echoes Dare’s own ‘Thisisdare’ address. Nice.
Another heart warming story from the agency world is of two interns at BBH who were touched by the story of Aaron Biber, a Tottenham hairdresser, whose shop was ruined by rioters. They managed to raise an astonishing (at the time of publishing) £35,000 to ‘Keep Aaron Cutting.’
These initiatives not only gave back to society at a time when we are all needed to pitch in and support the direct victims, but also benefit the agencies. In PR terms this kind of coverage is priceless – especially if you pick up today’s issue of Campaign. It showcases the benevolent spirit of the agency, the initiative of the staff and the culture which allows for unplanned charitable projects, allowing creative teams to apply their imagination to a worthy cause and help lift morale.
Of course smaller agencies would observe that such agencies have the budget and resource to allow immediate action, but that doesn’t lessen their impact or importance. I salute these campaigns and the agencies, not only for those they help directly, but also for renewing my somewhat wounded faith in British society. The bigger question for us now is whether, in light of the fact we are hosting the Olympics next year, brand Britain can recover from the negative image of our country that has been reported around the globe.