Guide Dogs is repositioning itself as less puppy and more people-centred to draw attention to the services it provides beyond its guide dogs. By nature of its name, most people grasp that Guide Dogs is a charity that raises funds for canine services. Though: "not enough people know about the breadth of other services it offers," explained Emma Foulds, director of marketing, digital and influencing at the charity. Thus, Guide Dogs is launching its first multi-channel brand effort "to reach out to potential service users, their friends and families" who may not know about the support the charity could offer them, Foulds made clear. Guide Dogs got Dame Julie Walters on board to narrates its TV ad, which does not rely on typical audio description. Rather than focusing on sight loss, the ad focuses on the relationship between a father and daughter. Created by Karmarama, the ad features Alex Pepper - a former Met Police emergency call handler who lost his eyesight in 2016 due to retinoblastoma as a child. In the ad - the father is supporting his daughter at her local football match. Aware that he won't be able to see the action, but desperate for him to be involved - the little girl narrates the game like a football commentator for her father to hear.
Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?
This campaign is a first for Guide Dogs. It’s moved their communications from focusing on the dogs to the people the dogs support. It’s an essential shift that the client embraced to get the audience to emotionally connect with the disability itself and those living with it.
The campaign’s aim is to change mindsets – for those with sight loss to be seen by the rest of society for what they are: people just like us.
The campaign also set out to show that those with sight loss are an important part of society and they do the same everyday things as any of us – they just have to adapt a little differently. The client was looking for an idea that shifted people’s view of those with sight loss to be less about sympathy and more about empathy. As the creative team, our first job was to come up with an idea that could achieve this.
Our creative idea, ‘We Need Each Other’, was born from a number of insights. We found them through interviews with people with sight loss and their families, to online forums. Ultimately we found that individuals with sight loss see themselves not as a “blind person”, but as a person who just happens to not be able to see.
What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Do you see it going anywhere else in the future?
From start to finish, this felt like one of the most rewarding jobs we’ve done. Every job as a creative is guaranteed to teach us a lot about the brand and the people behind it, but with Guide Dogs it felt like a more useful lesson. We gained invaluable insight into people’s everyday lives along with an understanding of what it’s like to live with sight loss.
From the planners who worked on the brief before we even saw it, right through to the agency producers, we were lucky enough to work with a team who were wholeheartedly behind the idea at every step of the way. Especially when selling in a Guide Dogs ad that features only a few seconds of an actual guide dog! Our director, Max Fisher, shared our vision and enthusiasm for the film and made it into something that looked fantastic too.
We’re really excited about the future of this campaign as there’s so much more to be done, especially outside traditional advertising. Our goal is to not only help those with sight loss continue to adapt to everyday life, but to come up with ideas to help the world adapt to them too.