I read somewhere (cannot remember where now) that more and more companies are beginning to consider setting up separate subsidiaries or sub-units that are focused on philanthropy and making a difference in the world around them. Some are talking about climate change and how they are making a difference in the world through new technologies and research-thrusts. Some are talking about their moves in aiding countries in the African continent, in South and Southeast Asia, and other parts of the world.
I have a thought: What if these advertisers - everyone of them (and most of them will be governed by some association of some sort) - all agreed to stop advertising for one day - just for one single day, and donated the savings of that single day to charity - the Red Cross and Red Crescent Organizations, CARE.Org, UNICEF, UNCHR, Caritas - I am sure that they will make a very significant difference.
I am going to take Singapore as an example because I have the industry figures off the top of my head (but this is in no way just a call to Singaporean clients... it's a call to all clients globally):
In Singapore, the total advertising media industry is estimated to be 2.0Bln SGD - that is based on monitored and published rates of media companies. Let's say that's discounted by 20% - and we are still left with some 1.8Bln SGD or roughly 1.1Bln USD.
(I won't add in "sunk costs" - e.g., production costs of print ads and TVCs, since those will not need to be halted - or will be impossible to halt since advertisers would still need those.)
On average, the industry in Singapore spends 4.4Mln SGD per day on advertising media. Or roughly 3Mln USD per day.
This number is only for Singapore.
The US ad marketplace is far much bigger than that. Japan's significantly higher than that. And China's - man, that's a treasure trove right now.
If advertisers in Singapore actually all agreed to stop advertising for one day - just one single day - we can potentially raise 3Mln USD in one single day!
Think of what a difference that would make!
Now why would advertisers think of stopping their advertising for one day?
1. What difference does a day make? Any sane media planner - I hope - would not argue against stopping the campaign for one day and resuming it the next day. GRPs can still fall within the magic +/-10% band and reach within the ideal +/-3%points (ideal for some clients who are so concerned about metrics) even with a one-day-off.
2. There are spillover effects from the previous day - and the day before that and still the day before that. Any sane advertiser does not advertise for only one day a year and stops. More or less, she/he will have approved several waves of advertising. All the we're going to ask for is one day. One single day.
3. Media companies are probably going to go berserk - but heck: do you think shareholders (of publicly listed companies) will actually think negatively of this gesture? Of this one day of total blank, no ads day? Sure - the "market" (i.e., Wall Street) is driven by greed and the rational expectation of profits. But once demonstrated that this is neither detrimental to their portfolios nor beneficial (one day!), I am sure they too will see the value of doing this.
4. Imagine sitting through your favorite couch and not seeing dreadful TV commercials - or for once, have a thin, all-news newspaper. Audiences would actually love that, I think.
What can you do with this money?
Well: a lot.
Singapore will generate 3Mln USD in one day by simply not advertising for one day on all media. But the US is perhaps (for argument's sake) 10x bigger than Singapore, and Japan is (say) 7.5x bigger. Let's assume that China is 7.0x bigger. (Don't shoot me about these assumptions: I don't have my notes with me and I don't store figure in my head...)
Given these assumptions, we will have raised - in one day - 73.5Mln USD.
That figure does not even include the UK, Australia, India, the Middle East, and key markets in the Americas and Europe. But that figure on its own, for example, will be enough to meet 10% of the needs of feeding the people in Darfur for one year (estimated to be 685Mln USD). If we put all the other countries together - and well, if my estimates above are corrected and were made far more accurate - I am sure that we will be able to meet this figure.
My dad once told me that if you really want to do something - if you really, really, really want to do something - you'll find a way to do it - regardless of the obstacles.
And I say the same thing: If advertisers and companies really want to do something about these things, they can.