February 10, 2023

Legacy TV advertising with the RSPB

Stephen Follows
Written by
Stephen Follows

Welcome to our new blog series! In 'Client Conversations', we’ll be lifting the lid on previous projects by talking with our clients about their experience working with Catsnake: The Story Agency.

To kick off, we’ll be diving into the RSPB’s first ever legacy TV advert: Time Flies. Stephen Follows, co-founder of Catsnake: The Story Agency, chats with Vicki O’Hare, former Head of Legacy Marketing and now current Head of Membership at the RSPB. If you haven’t seen Time Flies yet, you can check it out here.

Hello Vicki! Let’s start at the beginning: how did this all come about? What motivated the RSPB to make their first ever legacy TV advert?

Our RSPB Legacy Team had been considering it for a long time, especially after a decline in legacy enquirers started around 2015/2016. The RSPB’s last major legacy drive was in the late 1990s, so it was important to our team, and the charity as a whole, that we do something big to raise awareness and bring in more enquirers.

How did you go about finding the right partners or agency to work on the project? Why did you choose us?

There were a few reasons why we chose to work with Catsnake on this project. Our team had previously worked with you on developing our proposition and stewardship journey. At the time, we were also wrapping up a successful social media campaign using your Adaptive Acquisition approach, where we’d learned a huge amount about what motivates and inspires our RSPB legacy audiences. From those positive past experiences, we were confident you’d be able to support us well through this new endeavour for our team. More than that, we specifically valued your legacy expertise, and how your storytelling approach really aligns with our own. Practically speaking, we needed partners who could also help us make sense of media buying and television scheduling, which Catsnake knew all about and helped us develop the best approach.

As part of the process, we presented five potential creative options to you. What made you choose Time Flies, the watercolour-style animated film we produced in collaboration with Aardman?

From the Adaptive Acquisition campaigns, we learned a lot about what kind of RSPB stories resonate with our legacy audience, and one theme that kept coming up was how our audience are motivated by their connection to the nature that surrounds them. The Time Flies creative stemmed from this. The fledgling becoming separated from its parents acted as an emotionally-engaging metaphor for how people have increasingly become disconnected from the natural world.

In our organisation, we are incredibly lucky to have the most amazing, emotive live video footage available to us, and there were so many directions we could have gone with that. Instead, we chose to make a bold move by going the animation route and telling this great story. Although it was a bit nerve-wracking doing something completely different, I’m so glad we did!

Did you face any barriers to getting the project off the ground?

As it was the RSPB’s first legacy TV ad and a completely new venture for our small team, it was a daunting project at first, but also an exciting one – and a fantastic learning opportunity for us. For a huge project like this, getting buy-in from senior staff can sometimes be a challenge, but since the plans were grounded in such strong data and insight (even with a more unusual creative approach), they felt confident to go ahead with the plans.

We found that the main challenge was the level of coordination required with other teams within our own organisation, making sure the campaign aligned with overall brand and strategy, and didn’t step on the toes of other RSPB campaigns.

What was the response to Time Flies? What would you say were the main outcomes of the campaign?

The advert was really well received! We initially broadcast in September 2021, and we secured funding to broadcast it again in March 2022, and then for a third time in September 2022, with great results! Catsnake ran accompanying social media campaigns alongside our broadcasts, which helped to deliver above target for leads, at a cost per lead well below the target and industry benchmark. It was also great to see a higher opt-in rate among these new enquirers, so we could continue to build engagement with them. This has resulted in a greater response to our newsletter: in just one year, the open rate has risen from 23% to 42%, and our click-through rate has more than doubled.

There was also a great response to the TV ad internally at the RSPB. It really helped with advocacy and increased interest in our team. Legacy can sometimes be thought of as quite a ‘gloomy’ topic, and so some people shy away from talking about it, but after the advert was released, we had so many questions from individuals in other areas of the organisation. Even those in face-to-face teams in our nature reserves, were very keen to chat about the legacy advert with supporters and visitors. On top of the direct results, there have really been some great things that have come from the TV advert that maybe aren’t as tangible.

I just want to add, that I’ve noticed the response to the advert has also been fantastic in the wider legacy sector, too. Writing for Civil Society, Lucinda Frostick included Time Flies and its digital campaigns as a top example of legacy advertising, and it was also highlighted as a ‘Standout TV Legacy Campaign’ by Smee & Ford. Great results all around!

Finally, what advice do you have for someone starting this process and exploring TV advertising for legacy giving? Do you have any tips?

Give yourself as much time as possible to reach out to the different departments across your organisation that will be involved in the process, such as Brand, PR or Legal teams. These processes can take longer than you think.

Establish this communication between the other departments early on, so you can be aware of the timelines of other campaigns, events, and communications happening in your organisation. This is especially important when looking at when to air the TV ad. There may be opportunity to ride on the tail of brand awareness at a specific time, or equally there may be a period of time where you want to avoid broadcasting your TV ad.

Finally, I would recommend running a social media campaign alongside your TV ad broadcasts. We’ve had fantastic success with it across our three broadcasts. Using the halo effect of the TV ad, the social media campaigns help to maximise lead generation, and created an easy way for people to click through, enquire, and download the RSPB Gifts in Wills guide.

That’s great advice, Vicki! Thank you so much for sharing your experience making a legacy TV ad, and for being a part of our new blog series.

If you’re considering legacy TV advertising for your charity, we may be able to help! Get in touch with Shenley (shenley@catsnake.com) for more information.

Watch Time Flies and read the project case study here.

Find out more:
Watch ‘Behind the Scenes -Time Flies’
Read ‘Aardman & Catsnake capture the beauty of birds in film for RSPB Legacy’ by Aardman
Read ‘Growing Legacies’ by Lucinda Frostick for Civil Society
Read ‘Standout TV Legacy Campaigns’ by Lucy Lowthian for Smee & Ford