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DEC Coronavirus Appeal: A Social Campaign to Help Raise Over £18M and Save Lives Against the Clock

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Distillery launches its social campaign by the DEC to help protect the world's most vulnerable people from Covid-19

DEC Coronavirus Appeal: A Social Campaign to Help Raise Over £18M and Save Lives Against the Clock

As long as Distillery has been a content studio, its been looking for ways to use our creativity and strategic thinking for good. One of the ways it does this is through its work for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). Over the course of its long standing relationship, its worked with the DEC on six appeals, the most recent being the Cyclone Idai Appeal in 2019.

Today, Distillery are proud to share the work its done for what might be one of the most important charity outreaches of the time: an appeal by the DEC to help protect the world's most vulnerable people from Covid-19. To make it possible, fast, it mobilised distillery’s pop-up content studio once again, this time virtually.

​A massive donation drive, produced remotely​

As Distillery worked against the clock to bring this crucial campaign to life for millions of potential supporters, it was producing all of our content remotely due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. As a content studio that’s used to getting things done in a cloud-based environment, Distillery's internal working processes and systems helped effectively collaborate with all the stakeholders and agencies involved, no matter where in the world they were. That included collaborating with the DEC’s other agencies to ensure that its campaign was dynamic, yet cohesive.

Utmost sensitivity for a worldwide concern

This was the UK’s first coronavirus appeal focused outside of the country, yet the UK is still in the midst of its own Covid-19 outbreak, so it needed to be sensitive in its messaging. It was important not to imply that the suffering of those in other countries was more ‘important’ than the suffering of people here at home. Distillery's approach appealed to its audience’s sense of empathy, while bringing to life stories from the field to show the reality of Covid-19 in other parts of the world. Distillery's content drew comparisons to find a common ground, turning the crisis overseas into one that was relatable at home.

Reporting key metrics in real time

While Distillery supported the appeal to create platform-specific content for all of the DEC’s platforms, it also ran a YouTube advertising campaign in three phases.

  • - Awareness: It put spend behind its launch film, targeting a broad demographic of people who are interested in or support charity work. 

  • - Consideration: It put spend behind its Imagine film to reach and re-engage with the DEC’s existing audience.

  • - Conversion: It combined its best performing films and its thematic Imagine film to address viewers who had interacted with Distillery in earlier phases, acting as a reminder for them to take action on a cause they clearly care about.

To make each phase as effective as possible, Distillery needed to report key metrics in real time. By doing this, it were able to act on some crucial learnings, including:

  • - With 295,000 views, its Imagine film was the campaign’s standout success. To maximise this high engagement rate, it brought it back in phase three.

  • - Our 15 second edit of the launch film outperformed the 30 second edit, so Distillery  put it back to work in phase three.

Raising funds to save lives in the world's most vulnerable places​


Together with the DEC, Distillery helped to raise more than £18 million in just over three weeks. Content Manager at the DEC, Barney Guiton had this to say of the campaign: “This was an appeal unlike any we’ve done before, with the same disaster affecting us here in the UK as the countries where our member charities work, raising funds for multiple countries, and of course everyone working remotely. Despite the challenges, the appeal ran smoothly. distillery quickly became an extension of the DEC team as always, and produced some brilliant and moving content, that got across the sometimes complex messaging, with flair and sensitivity. Remote working was surprisingly easy using Slack, Zoom, and Google Meet – occasionally all at the same time!“

How has the time of Covid-19 impacted social media? What are organisations doing to support their communities and their work? Distillery discuss these important topics in its Guide to Covid-19 Search Trends. Read it now.

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Distillery, Tue, 22 Sep 2020 14:14:15 GMT