Category Archives: News

A royal health issue

I admire both royal Princes for coming out in support of mental health awareness and speaking candidly about their own issues. They have helped demonstrate – to men in particular – that it’s neither shameful nor weak to acknowledge a mental health problem. In fact, it takes grit and courage. Even more so to say you want to do something about it.

Some mental health challenges are long established, deep-rooted problems that need professional help, but sometimes it can be the result of a series of small events, that combined can tip a balanced and normally confident person into a darker and not so helpful place. This chain-reaction of events can go unseen and with it’s cumulative effect, just the smallest and seemingly trivial of issues can cause someone to unravel.

We can all play our part in making mental health a subject that can be discussed without fear or shame. We can also be watchful with family, friends and colleagues for changes which may be a sign that they are struggling. They may just be having a stressful day but it may be something more significant. Asking how they are, and importantly, how you can help, could really make a difference and help them back onto an even keel. And if someone you know opens up to you about their mental health challenge, a simple, non-judgemental conversation could be life changing.

The Princes have done their bit by putting mental health squarely in the public arena, we can do our bit for those we know and love. Together, we will shatter the stigma and people struggling with their mental health will know they are not alone.


Are you the creative team we need?

Team DK is looking for a new creative team to join us.

We want copywriters with a flair for storytelling and art directors who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries to achieve great results for our clients.

When you join us you’ll be creating award-winning campaigns for some of the most exciting and innovative charities in the UK – including Macmillan Cancer Support, Greenpeace and Christian Aid.

Experience in DM is a must, a passion for charity is key, and if you have a good digital head on you too then that’s great.

Interested in joining us? Email davesturdy[at]differentkettle[dot]com with your CV and examples of your work.

We can’t wait to meet you.

Positive Thinking in the EU Campaign

In these times of referendum madness, it’s worth returning to the 2012 film, No, starring Gael Garcia-Bernal. The film explores the end of Pinochet’s regime, when the Chilean dictator called a referendum to decide the country’s future. Yes, and Pinochet stays. No, and Pinochet goes.

In the film, those running the No campaign wanted to persuade the electorate to get rid of Pinochet by showing the worst atrocities of the campaign. By showing just how bad things had become, they hoped to sway the population to say NO.

Enter Gael Garcia-Bernal’s character – a hotshot advertising executive with a new idea. He doesn’t want to tell people how awful things are right now. Instead, he wants to show the electorate the possibility of freedom, liberation – to give them a positive campaign that celebrates how much better life could be without Pinochet.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this film throughout the EU referendum process, and the ways in which both Remain and Leave have run their campaigns.

Of course, there are no rules for how to do advertising right. In our job, we focus on the best way to tell stories and provoke the response we want. However, more often than not, we recognise that rather than focus on the negative, or the bad stuff the ‘other guys’ are doing, it can be more successful to sell the positive benefits of a product, a charity, or even a policy.

Take charity marketing, for example. Although we are often telling tough, upsetting stories, we try and tell them by showing the positive change the charity can bring to people’s lives. We aim to inspire rather than create feelings of despair. We show that change is possible, and demonstrate how a supporter’s donation can empower people to make a tangible difference.

So what happens with political campaigning? Why on both sides of the EU debate is the news so bad?

Whether it’s Remain gloomily forecasting World War Three or Leave spreading fear about the EU taking away our sovereignty, the EU campaign has relentlessly focused on the negative. It’s used dark, dreadful predictions that do very little to persuade people about why we should stay or go. There’s very little in either camp’s advertising campaign that seeks to inspire, engage and promote a positive message about the UK’s future.

There might not be any rules in advertising. But there are things we find work – and the Leave and Remain campaigns have ignored all of them.

Wouldn’t it be good to see a campaign that showed the positive impact of staying or going? For Remain to celebrate what’s great about the EU, or for Leave to show what could happen once we leave? Rather than attacks being exchanged, to see campaigns that gave people a positive reason to get involved and speak out and express their beliefs?

Wouldn’t it be good, in other words, if each campaign had approached this debate with some basic advertising principles in mind, instead of as politicians?

The Pupil Pipeline goes for the record

How exciting! We were thrilled to see this year’s Big Bang Fair features a record attempt to make the world’s biggest Pupil Pipeline.

We worked with WaterAid UK to develop the Pupil Pipeline initiative – challenging schools to form their own pipelines that will transport a bucket of water, all while raising money for the charity.

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So did the record-breaking attempt succeed? You’ll have to watch the film to find out!

Have you visited our website recently?

Perhaps it’s because the sun is shining and the clocks are due to change, but here at DK Towers we’ve been having a bit of a spring clean of our website.

Take a look to see some of our most recent work for clients new and old, including:

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And there’s more… We’ve also added some new work for new clients, including:

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So, what are you waiting for? Have a browse and if you think we can help your charity, get in touch. Just give us a call on 0117 974 1217.

Macmillan at Christmas

Earlier this year, we had a wonderful day meeting Alice and her family – the stars of this year’s Macmillan Christmas Appeal.

Alice was diagnosed with Wilm’s tumour, or kidney cancer, when she was just four years old. As you can imagine, the news hit mum Jane and dad Andrew like a baseball bat. Andrew just wanted to wrap his daughter up in cotton wool.

From the day Alice was diagnosed, the family’s Macmillan nurse Caroline was by their side. She helped demystify the cancer treatment process, and offered the family the medical, emotional and practical support they needed.

We worked with Macmillan to create their annual Christmas appeal featuring Alice, Andrew, Jane and brother Josh. The pack brings to life the support Macmillan has offered – and continues to offer – the family. We created a main appeal pack to go to Macmillan’s warm database, telling the story from Andrew’s perspective, as well as a reminder mailing.

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To learn more about Alice’s story, and to make your Christmas donation, you can visit the website.


Dave Sturdy…or Robert Smith?

DK’s Creative Director Dave Sturdy donned his best 1980s Goth look at the weekend, as his band The Long Players recreated The Cure’s classic Head on the Door.



Head on the Door is the sixth classic album the Long Players have brought their own unique spin to – previous hits include Harvest, Rumours, Thriller, The Bends, Ziggy Stardust and an ABBA Acoustic set.

The only question remains – what album will be next?

Shocking images!

At the end of the summer, the Independent took the controversial decision to publish a photo a dead child washed up on a Mediterranean beach, in order to bring home the severity of the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.

The photo was utterly devastating. In a single shot, the horror of the crisis crashed into Britain’s living rooms – and people responded by taking their old belongings to collection centres, donating to charities supporting the crisis, and pressuring the government to do more about the on-going crisis.

Working in charity fundraising, we often come across the issue of ‘how far do we go?’ Do we show the wounds, the dead bodies, and the dead children? Do such graphic images exploit the dead, and their families? Or should we try and balance the graphic and horrifying, with the hopeful – with the solution?

The answer, as ever, is somewhere in the middle and depends on context. Of course, sometimes a horrifying and graphic image is needed to stop people turning away from the scale of an awful issue, such as the refugee crisis. On other occasions, showing a positive and motivating image gives people a sense of hope that their donation or action can make a difference.

The main downfall of using horrifying images is that they can dehumanise the victim. One example I always use is how a local group protesting coverage of a recent war held up placards showing images of children that were blown to bits. The children were unidentifiable – a mess of body parts. The images were entirely dehumanising. Rather than encouraging empathy, it felt as though the images robbed the victims of war of their humanity. It felt exploitative – as though it didn’t matter who the children had been; all that mattered was their grim end. I thought about the parents of those children – would they have wanted their children to be used in this way? Would they have wanted their children to be remembered as a body part, not as a full human being who had their life taken away from them?

Where the Independent succeeded is that the image of Aylan did not dehumanise him. In fact, the opposite was true. We saw the photo, and we saw the child he was. We learnt his name. We listened to his story. We saw the face of his desperate father and mother. He wasn’t a symbol, or an object, to rally a cause. He was a child who had lost his life in a desperate and deeply horrifying situation.

To me, that is where the balance has to lie when choosing graphic images. Is the image exploitative? Is it forgetting the humanity and the life of the person in it? Is it horrifying for horror’s sake, or is it trying to bring an issue to life? Will it make an audience turn away and disengage, or will it engage with our empathy and our sense of fairness?

When we are trying to expose the horror of something like the refugee crisis, or the murders of civilian children in a warzone, it is tempting to reach for the most graphic, most horrific picture. But if that image merely serves to dehumanise and re-victimise, it won’t serve its purpose.

There’s no such thing as digital marketing

I’ve been to a number of digital conferences over the last few years. And whilst the technology in that time has changed dramatically – along with the dazzling array of buzz-words and acronyms that accompany it – one underlying theme has remained 100% consistent throughout.

To succeed in the digital world, the most important thing you have to know does not concern Drupal vs WordPress or Maxymiser vs Optimizely. In fact it has nothing to do with new technology at all but has everything to do with old knowledge – knowledge that was developed in that far away offline world before the internet was even dreamt of. Because what you have to understand is good old advertising and marketing practice.

And this applies whatever your market, whatever your business model. Whether you’re selling automotive, launching a new product or raising funds for your charity, nothing has changed in the last 20 years except the technology.

It’s true, of course, that the technology has given us some new ways to do the same old things. Just as a car can get you from London to Bristol quicker than a horse and cart, social media can build brand friendly communities quicker than a membership club (and sometimes lose them quicker too). But just as travel is still travel, so advertising is still advertising, fundraising is still fundraising – whatever your medium.

And yet, even though this has been the consistent out-take from every conference I’ve attended over the last decade, it’s a sub-text which many of the speakers themselves are simply not aware of. And why should they be? Many are too young to have worked in (or perhaps even to remember) a pre-digital environment. What’s more, they may well have come into the business from a technological rather than a marketing background. As a result, they learn marketing as they go along and it’s entirely understandable that in the process they imagine they have discovered something new.

What’s more, the idea that the whole world changed with the discovery of the internet and that the entire marketing manual had to be rewritten with the advent of Web 2.0, has been pedaled from the outset. I remember attending a DMA run conference almost ten years ago at which speaker after speaker insisted that digital marketing was ‘not about the technology’. Whereas in fact, of course, that’s exactly what it was about then, is about now and will always be about.

Anyone who has ever done any teaching, training or lecturing will know it can be a great pleasure to see bright young minds grasping a concept for the first time. Suddenly the discoveries that were passed on to you long ago and that you now wish to pass on in turn, will appear to them as if fresh minted. For older ad men like me, there’s a similar pleasure to be had watching, listening and talking to many of the speakers and delegates at digital conferences. But it’s a pleasure that would be seriously undermined if they were learning those lessons and discovering those principles not in a conference room, but on one of my live jobs – on my time and on my budget.

Which is why the ultimate conclusion I have come to after all those conferences and conversations is this. When choosing the team you are going to work with on your next ‘digital’ campaign or appeal, don’t ask, ‘Do they know digital?’ Ask, ‘Do they know marketing?’