This year the IPA celebrates its Centenary and during the 100 years since it swung open its doors there’s been a mind-boggling amount of ads created. But we believe that it’s possible to catalogue all of these ideas into 10 simple themes, as our Chief Strategy Officer, Matt Willifer, explains in this series of blogs.

Themes covered so far have been ‘Name Fame’, ‘Expressing Personality’, ‘Getting Emotional’ and ‘Remaining Rational’. We now reach the half way mark with ‘Call to Action’…



Ideas defined by the precise behavior they hope to elicit, or problem they aim to solve

Roll up. Roll up. Do this now. The call to action. Together with the rationalist persuasion mode, this is the oldest form of the advertising idea and finds modern adherents in (for example) Nudge theories.

Often the desired action is merely added on the end of ads, although sometimes is the very heart of the idea; take Sainsbury’s ‘Try Something New’, or American Express’ ‘Small Business Saturdays’ promoting people to shop at their local independent stores on a particular day. And below we go right back to the 1910s to one of the most famous ads of all time, from the British Government in WW1.


A more recent example of a highly effective behavior change campaign is our ‘Missing Type’ work for NHS Blood and Transplant, created in partnership with our Engine colleagues. The idea needed to be disruptive and initiate a specific behaviour change, i.e. create new donor registrations, rather than simply raise awareness. The call to action was clear; give blood. But asking this of people is hard enough, let alone actually getting people to do it. So when our campaign resulted in blood donations rising from an all-time low to driving 30,000 new donors to register and potentially improving or saving over 100,000 lives, we were ecstatic. The phenomenal success of our multi-award-winning campaign, which was one of the UK’s most awarded of 2016, has resulted in ‘Missing Type’ going global and being implemented in 21 other countries.



Tune in tomorrow for theme #6, ‘Reframing the Debate’…


Matt Willifer

About Matt Willifer

Chief Strategy Officer at WCRS and Partner at Engine.

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