Monthly Archives: October 2012

Make it Possible campaign. Our thoughts. Your thoughts?

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Animals Australia is an A-list campaigner. How often does an NFP halt trade worth millions, in this case live animal export overnight? Consistently, Animals Australia has used means both devious and conventional to hold industries and their watchdogs to account. Hootville is a big fan.

Animals Australia’s latest focus is on factory farming, which simply put is the greatest single source of animal cruelty on earth. Think battery farms, pig stalls, feed lots… cruelty on an industrial scale.

make it possible campaign

Fly little pig fly.

Animals Australia is tough, direct, political so it was a surprise to see the multiple coats of gloss applied to its latest venture: Make It Possible. This is a celebrity-driven, high-production value, high-concept piece of work. The aesthetic surprisingly wavers between Pixar and guerilla video.

What we like: the campaign specific website, pledge counter, quality animation, creation of a cute, if tad familiar central porcine character, use of real footage and the clear overall proposition that an end to factory farming is possible. It’s also puts the phrase “factory farming” well and truly into the lexicon and associates it with cruelty. Excellent work.

Also notable is the full frontal asault on the unhelpful and negative audience perception that could be summarised as: “Factory farming is here to stay. Change it? Pigs might fly.” Well yes – they might as the animation shows.  

Animals Australia teased and previewed the campaign via email to its database, sent excellent automated thankyou emails to those who took action and has no doubt swollen its database no end. All donors of $35 or more also received free annual Animals Australia membership. Smart move. They should start planning their renewal strategy now

54,000 plus have taken a pledge so far. A rather bloody good result. You should put down that pork belly sandwhich and join them BTW. 

This is a well-executed campaign but of course it ain’t perfect. 

The negatives: the video needs a strong edit. Kony 2012 may have gotten away with overly long videos but I think few people have patience for 11 minutes. This is a beginner’s mistake by one of Australia’s most accomplished campaigners. A re-edit and upload is required and will undoubtedly lead to higher conversions from viewer to pledge-maker.

Also: Do we need the celebrities? These ones? So many of them? Probably not. Still; if they effectively use social media to promote the campaign it may be worth it. And if you want to mainstream an issue you better use mainstream spokespeople. 

Finally: one nonprofit marketer expressed disapointment – she felt that the new vibe was too different to the gritty material she was used to from Animals Australia. Does this matter? Is this too bloated a campaign? Your thoughts please.

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The Squiggle files: rebranding a nonprofit after 42 years

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rebranding a nonprofit

Squiggle's nose is for news.

In the first of an occasional interview series, Hootville’s canine mascot and mentor Squiggle asks James Beckford-Saunders, director – education and advocacy of ReGen about the process of rebranding a nonprofit.

So why bother with the upheaval that rebranding requires?

We didn’t undertake this significant change lightly.  For several years, we have been aware that, as Moreland Hall, we have been valued by the people who use our services but there was limited awareness of our work within the wider community.  We now provide an increasing number of statewide treatment services and deliver training both across Victoria and interstate. We’ve also increased our public advocacy to contribute to an informed public debate of issues relating to alcohol and other drug use in Australia. 

In order to increase our effectiveness, we recognised that we needed to change how we are perceived by a wide range of potential audiences.

Did all humans concerned at Moreland Hall see the need for the rebrand?

Not at all – many staff questioned why change a successful organisation after 42 years. Open and robust discussions on the benefits and risks associated were encouraged, which helped shape the process and brand. This was critical as, with limited funds, it was always made clear that staff were going to be our best brand advocates. The success of the rebranding is testament to the positive organisational culture that supported the change process.  

rebranding advice

Why is the man smiling? The rebrand is complete.

As you set out on the process, what were your hopes for the new branding?

That our new brand, which was more than just name change, would be embraced and engaged with by our past, present and future clients, funders, other service providers and the wider community. The brand would enable us to more effectively ‘promote health and reduce alcohol and other drug related harm’ (our purpose). 

Did you seek outside advice? Why?

I have a background in marketing, have led rebranding projects before and have taught branding at Masters level… and so yes I definitely sought expert advice.  Rebranding is too big an opportunity and risk not too.

Melbourne-based brand design studio, StudioBrave provided a proposal and portfolio demonstrating both strategic, creative and design insights, which they lived up too (and beyond) throughout the process. They nailed it.  Key was the organisational fit. StudioBrave are a joy to work with and always went the extra mile to ensure outstanding results.  
Would you agree that neighbourhood cats lack insight into the marketing process?

Yes, as from my experience they are more focussed on their own rather than others needs and wants.  And the 4Ps mean nothing to them. While dogs on the other hand …
Agreed. Did you involve human stakeholders?

Together with Studio Brave we ran 14 targeted workshops for people who use our services, staff and board members to seek feedback on our identity and suggestions for developing a new brand.

Clients, staff, the Board and other stakeholders were kept updated/ engaged in the branding process through updates, workshops and presentations. The contribution of stakeholders was critical.

When it came to our name, we learned that, for people who already knew us, their attachment to the organisation was not to the name, but to their experience with our services.  For clients who did not have previous experience with us, our name was seen as being cold and ‘institutional’ and actually made people less likely to give us a call or want to engage with our services. 

It was not a case of trying to impose a new attitude or approach on an existing organisational culture, but a search for an identity that better represented who we are, what we do and what we hope to achieve in the future.  The combination of internal and external research provided remarkably consistent responses across all our stakeholder groups. 

Did a clear winner make itself obvious or could you have happily have gone in another direction?

After much deliberation, including working though 500 alternatives, we decided on ReGen. 

Why “ReGen” instead of say, DogBiscuit?

The consistent message from people who had used our services was to adopt an identity that was warm, bright and hopeful, that was grounded in our work and that spoke about change. 

ReGen best fitted the brand strategy that we had developed. It also had no known negative connotations, had available web urls and we could get the name trademarked.

Our new name references regeneration, new beginnings and growth within (and throughout) the life cycle.  It reflects our (evidence-based) holistic approach to AOD treatment and education as part of a broader promotion of health and wellbeing. 

Our new visual identity has been designed around the core theme of optimism.  The use of key ‘Re’ words (such as ReBuild, ReSpect and ReConsider) underpin our values and approach. They play a key role in our communications and complement our unusually wide palette of bright colours that reinforce the concepts of change, flexibility and adaptability.

Yes, yes but why not “DogBiscuit”?

The url had already been taken by a Melbourne blogger. 
How long did it take from first seriously considering a rebrand to the launch of the new brand?

It was a year long process of research, education, listening and integrating feedback from all our stakeholders.  And every minute was needed!

The timing was excellent as it has helped position us for the Victorian government alcohol and other drugs treatment system and whole of government reforms.

What’s the response been so far? Are tails wagging?

Very positive from all stakeholders but particularly clients and staff.

Four months on, our post implementation review demonstrated that ReGen has been embraced and is just who we are now… which is just how we wanted it.
I’m sure you considered the rebranding of signage and websites etc but was there anything you forgot?

Didn’t forget but we did get ‘bumped’ from outdoor signage on the front of Flinders Street station. That would have been nice.

Key bits of branding that made a difference included cool T-shirts, where staff chose their branded colour and message eg ‘ReDuce harm’ or ‘ReThinking approaches’. At least one staff member a day wears it to work.  Staff also chose their own colour and ‘Re’ message on their business cards which helped with ownership.  Finally revamping the reception/waiting room at our main office with a focus on making it a more relaxed and comfortable environment for clients: less ‘doctor’s waiting room’ and more ‘Qantas club’ has had a big impact.

Do you own a dog? Is so, tell us about that at length.

No but I used to and would like to again.
What advice do you have for nonprofits considering such an undertaking?

It’s a big undertaking so don’t do it unless you are clear about your objectives, resources and timeframes and have commitment from the top (including the Board) as it wont be all plain sailing…  and get great expert advice, such as StudioBrave.
Yes it costs but you can save a lot through innovation and long term planning such as running down print stocks. Key to the whole project is getting the brief right and selecting an agency that is a good fit.

See it for yourself:


Is the NDIS Every Australian Counts Campaign really so mediocre?

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A lot of interest was inspired by an ABC Ramp Up blog written by Kate Larsen, former head of Accessible Arts Australia who stirred the pot by criticising the Every Australian Counts  / NDIS campaign as too tame and driven by non-disabled people.

NDIS campaign

OK - what's the next big national successful chapter in the campaign?

In her blog she describes the nationwide DisabiliTEA morning teas as having “passive, doily laden’ aesthetic.”

According to Larsen this aspect of the campaign “smacks of mediocriTEA rather than the pride, power and rights-driven agenda that we (as people with and without disability) should be setting.” She explains that she yearns for direct action as seen overseas – people dragging their bodies up the steps of Parliament and chaining themselves to buses.

The blog post drew a mixed and passionate response and inspired follow-up media coverage.

We don’t claim to understand what it is like to live with a disability (though we’ve met more people with a disability and carers than most) but we do understand disabilities and nonprofit campaigning very well and have a few thoughts:

1. It is entirely unfair to highlight one aspect of a national, long-running campaign and claim it is representative of the whole. The DisabiliTEA part of the campaign must be viewed against the website, lobbying and more. We have written previously of the strong approach the campaign has displayed.

The DisabiliTEA may be sweet and non-threatening but it’s also a raging freakin’ success. 1700 such twee celebrations were held around the nation – 1700! That is the sign of a campaign that is working on many levels. Is the campaign out of touch or are its critics?

The morning teas may be olde worlde to the hip but to many people they will be a rare social occasion and a chance for softer supporters to feel that they are a part of something. You know – the sort of people who have cared for a disabled son or daughter since before The Big Day Out was invented. The sort of people with disabilities who can’t drag themselves up the steps of Parliament because they have errands to run in the far flung suburbs with no microbreweries.

2. To have brought DisabiliTEA publicly into question is self-inflicted injury. Disunity is death.

3. Smart and passionate campaigners are in short supply. Larsen argues that people with disabilities should lead disability organisations. This is a luxury that we cannot afford. Gather 100 campaigners / marketers, send 70 of them away. You are now left with the 30 smart, passionate ones. Of that 30, keep the ones who want to work in the nonprofit sphere. You are left with perhaps 5. Now ask them if they want to work in disabilities – as opposed to environment, green energy, leftie politics or the arts. How many do you have left? Can we really discriminate against any campaigner just because they don’t have a disability?

 4. Larsen and many who share her view would like people with a disability fronting campaigns such as Every Australian Counts. Here’s an inconvenient truth. When people without disabilities see a people with disabilies talking on the TV about disability issues they conveniently conclude that the matter being discussed is a “Disabled” issue and not of interest to them. This doesn’t help the cause. Let us be clear: we are NOT, NOT, NOT suggesting that people with disabilities are unsuitable to front campaigns.

Disabilities as an issue must be mainstreamed – just like marriage equality, depression, child sexual abuse, problem gambling and all the other issues that have been stealing the spotlight from disabilities for decades. It’s only in the last two years that NDIS has placed disabilities on the agenda at all. 1981’s International Year of Disabled Persons is a long time ago and frankly since then many issues have leapfrogged disabilities.

5. Every issue has a different dynamic. Having worked with 300+ nonprofits across just about every sector we witness varying degrees of passion around issues. Environment, marriage equity and animal welfare issues have loud, proud and vocal campaigners by the score. Disabilties is not such a sector.

ndis campaign

Good enough for Julia...

Yes there are plenty of passionate people but per capita people affected by disabilities are too busy living their lives under great pressure to place pressure on government. This is changing but without a central, campaign-orientated body to guide the troops disabilities as an issue will continue to flounder.  Every Australian Counts is bringing people together more effectively than any of the long-standing peaks and providers ever have. 133,000 supporters? That is outstanding. Again – NDIS must be doing something right.

6. Whatever we do we must NOT alienate carers.

By the way other causes to show a lack of spirit include TAFEs, students and parents using state education, seniors and Catholics appalled at the behaviour of their clergy. Each of these causes should be able to garner similar support – but they can’t. They aren’t organised.  They have no central campaigning body such as NDIS / Every Australian Counts. Or maybe they aren’t that angry.

*Disclosure: Hootville spends most of its days also wishing that nonprofit causes were tougher, louder, more organised and dramatic. We have felt frustrated at the lack of progress and action on the part of people affected by issues such as disabilties, mental health, urban planning, sexual servitude and then some. We have been staggered at the lack of spine displayed by some providers, peaks and campaigners but we know that it takes more than stunts to create change.

Kate you are very welcome to this space for a reply.

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Upcoming training webinars

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Anyone with internet access can join our webinars. Audio is accessed by telephone (like a teleconference) or your computer (like Skype). Participants can also replay the session on-demand at no additional cost. Webinars are backed up with notes. Get savvy.

eMarketing Savvy 101 webinar, Thursday November 8, 10am to 11.30am. Email still matters and, dare we say it, is more effective than all that social mediaising you’ve been up to lately. Save money, spread the word and connect to your audiences via humble email.

Copy Savvy 101 webinar, Tuesday December 4 & 11. 10am to 12.30pm. An energetic two-part webinar aimed at generalist nonprofit copywriters who pen everything from appeal letters to brochures, annual reports to speeches. We look at understanding your audiences, developing a brief, quotes, captions, headlines, finding visual alternatives, search engine optimisation and – above all – getting results from your words. An early bird-special is on offer, so be quick.

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Copy Savvy 101 webinar announced: $220 early bird discount.

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Hootville will hold a two-part Copy Savvy 101 webinar Tuesday December 4 and Tuesday December 11 2012. Each session lasts from 10am to 12.30 although participants will be able to replay them on-demand.

Last year’s session was a sell out so book soon to A) get in and B) enjoy our $220 early bird discount.

Warning: spelling and grammar barely rate a mention in this workshop. Audiences, headlines, captions, quotes and perceptions however will be discussed. So too will: developing a brief, finding your tone, writing for search engines, writing for social media and providing constructive feedback. This is hyper-practical and aimed squarely at securing donors, members and influence. More details and booking information.

There will be dozens of examples from the non-profit and corporate world; suggestions, interaction, laughter and tears.

The workshop is delivered by former reporter Brett de Hoedt who has written Sydney Morning Herald opinion pieces and game show questions to Cheap Eats restaurant reviews and on-hold messages. He’s edited membership magazines, written media releases, speeches and t-shirts slogans. Here is the toughest thing he ever wrote.

As with our other workshops we welcome up to six participants from the one organisation for the same price. A modest supplement is payable if you have more than six people participating.

The new two-part format keeps each session lively while the extended five-hour length means that there’s more time for learning, Q&A and writing exercises. And yes; there will be homework between week one and two.

Participants will be able to submit their work for review before session one, shall receive extensive notes post webinar and have access to four weeks on-call follow up coaching. They will be able to replay the webinar on-demand.

Not available on the day? Who cares?

Everyone who books the Copy Savvy 101 webinar will be able to replay the webinar on demand so if you’re not available on the day watch it at your convenience and we’ll make a time to talk through your questions afterwards. It will be just like being there. No excuses. In fact – why bother with the date at all? Book, watch and afterwards have a private Q&A with us. Isn’t that how online learning is supposed to work? More details and booking information.

How do I access a webinar?

The ‘webinar’ is basically a password protected web page, so if you have internet access you can access the webinar. The audio can come via your computer or via teleconference. You will also be able to type questions and comments as the webinar progresses. More details and booking information.


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Help please: we need to professionally categorise you.

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Hootville is compiling a list of job categories. (We’ll soon explain why). Could your job and the jobs of your colleagues fit reasonably into one of the categories below? Hope so. We don’t want an overly long list of hyper-specific categories but neither do we want to exclude any worthwhile categories. Press comment to leave us your thoughts. Thanks advancefully. So here’s our efforts to pigeon-hole the entire nonprofit workforce:

Accounting & finance


Case management

Call centre

Chief executive senior management

Community development

Counselling and psychology

Disability support work

Drug and alcohol

Early childhood




Education officers

Fundraising, grants, development

Graphic design

Health promotion

Housing officer

Human resources




Occupational therapists / physiotherapists

Program coordination

Marketing, Communications and PR

Membership management

Medical (non nursing)

Migration and asylum seeker support


Personal care

Policy advisor

Project management


Volunteer management

Youth worker



Foster care recruiter marketer training

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North west metro region foster care recruiters are prepping as we speak, for a day of marketing training with Hootville Friday November 23. Foster care recruitment has long been an interest for Hootville which has worked on a couple of Foster Care Awareness Week campaigns and trained several foster care agencies.

Convincing someone to become a foster carer is no small thing – a true marketing challenge. Marketers need to overcome many negative perceptions – some of them based in truth others not. Different agencies do different things well. The workshop will concentrate on marketing broadly, media and online communications.

Media training in Sydney

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Brett’s off to deliver media training to the good folk at Aboriginal Health and Research Council Tuesday November 13. He’ll include media relations and social media on his agenda.

Bush Heritage Australia

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Brett did his best to pretend he understood what happens outside of the metropolitan area when media training a group of ecologists, biologists and the like from Bush Heritage Australia in Melbourne this week.

Disability Employment South Australia Symposium 2013

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Brett will once again emcee the Disability Employment South Australia symposium in 2013. Bully for him.

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