EnviroMedia, with offices in Austin and Portland, claims to be something other than a typical ad agency. In fact, this is how they open “the conversation.”
I don’t know the answer to their rhetorical question, but I’m not sure there is a wrong answer in this case. If you dig a page deeper, there’s this:
What We Do
If you’re looking for ads, go to an ad agency. If you’re in search of smart, memorable campaigns that connect with your target to drive real change, we’re going to get along fabulously.
I’m never too impressed by creative services providers that claim to be something other than an agency. If you have clients, there’s an agency relationship. It’s nothing to hide from.
I don’t mean to pick on this one provider, I merely want to examine the idea that an agency or media company can “drive real change.” Most agencies exist to build brands and drive sales. Non-profits also need to build their brand and drive “sales”, whatever that might mean. For many groups, it means asking the consumer to part with money and get nothing in return but a promise. That’s a tough sell in any economy. My point is this–marketing people who want to do good with their skills need to be incredibly gifted and disciplined. There’s a terrible idea floating through way too many non-profits that their particular cause is cause enough. This is rarely true.
I want to see non-profits utilize advertising to further their cause and it makes sense for clients to work with like-minded people on these initiatives. But not too like-minded. To break through the clutter and make real connections with people, all the rules of consumer marketing still apply. Maybe a certain top-of-mind cause gives an organization a head start, but a working relationship with the member or customer has to be initiated and maintained. It takes money to do that; it also takes skill, perseverance and vision.