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2017 Gold Charity


Proximity London

Client: The RNLI

Communication Saves Lives

Campaign overview

With charities being lambasted for their unethical use of data, the RNLI made a pledge never to contact supporters again unless given renewed permission.

The reason for opting-in had to be an immediate and powerful one.


Consent is based on trust, and there was no trust left in the charity sector. Proximity London’s research aimed to unpick the real drivers behind consent and provide the public with a powerful incentive; if we can’t reach you, we can’t reach others.

Research revealed that only 6% of people would renew permissions, and the RNLI needed 22%. There was also a ‘privacy paradox’ that said people demand rational information but decide emotionally. People will agonise over giving their email to a retailer while sharing their most intimate moments on Facebook.

Proximity London set about stripping away the marketing jargon to make people actively want to sign up. The cost of not opting in was rooted in its human cost; the ability to save lives.


The RNLI receives hundreds of distress calls every day. Proximity London’s creative journey started by adopting this sense of urgency.

‘Communication saves lives’ was the call to arms, driven home by three distinct waves over a 12 month period.

The first wave went local and personal with a direct plea from supporters’ nearest lifeboat station and the charity’s chief executive.

The second was a national call, made using radio, broadsheet print ads and targeted Facebook videos, supported by a digital hub. The hub featured a ‘tick’ made from survivors of previous rescues, whose stories were retold in an affecting series of online films using real-life rescue footage.

The RNLI’s final push reached out to the wider supporter community to create ‘a movement of the advocated’ – arming supporters with an emoji tick and Facebook header they could use to update their page with once they had opted in.


Consent was no longer a marketing ploy hidden in the small print, it had become a powerful and simple call to arms.

Within days of launching, supporters were offering their support and spontaneous donations began flooding in. The opt-in target of 255k was hit, and then almost doubled with 450k supporters giving the RNLI permission to keep in touch.

In the ‘summer cash’ appeal that followed this activity, the RNLI got more than triple the response rate and level of donations achieved over the same period of the previous year. Supporters were reinvigorated, stronger and more committed than ever.

The campaign also provided opt-in learning across the sector, with four large charities following suit.


Emma Crean (Group Account Director) Proximity London - Suzanne Partridge (Managing Partner) Proximity London - Rebecca Bell (Copywriter) Proximity London - Clare Trepleton (Art Director) Proximity London - Kathy Howes (Senior Creative Producer) Proximity London - John Treacy (Executive Creative Director) Proximity London - Nick Myers (Planning Director) Proximity London - Jodie Armstrong-Downes (Planning Director) Proximity London - Megan Thompson (Senior Data Planner) Proximity London - Claire Tusler (Data Strategy Partner) Proximity London - Rob Kavanagh (Creative Director) Proximity London

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