Engaging CultureStrategy & Marketing

The Salvation Army’s Amazing New Advertising Campaign

A few months ago, Jim Knaggs, Commissioner of the Western Territory of the Salvation Army gave me a sneak preview of a new advertising campaign. It was unusual because most nonprofits advertise to either the public or potential donors. But this campaign was focused on people in need. As a result, bus stop ads pointed homeless people to the closest Salvation Army shelter. The inside lid of city trash cans featured ads that gave directions to a nearby food bank. What typically looked like a “tear off” flyer for a lost pet or roommate, was designed to help those struggling with addiction.  Commissioner Knaggs showed me that The Salvation Army believes when it comes to meeting great needs, there’s a powerfully important place for innovation and creativity.


Two thoughts come to mind:

1. When a nonprofit or ministry organization creates this kind of creative and effective work, they deserve to be supported, and I encourage you to do exactly that.  We’re coming up on their annual Christmas Red Kettle campaign, and we should all get behind it.


2. What’s your church, ministry, or nonprofit doing that’s outside the traditional boundaries?  When was the last time you questioned your marketing approaches, and started thinking differently? We will always have people in need, but the challenge is reaching them effectively. What are you doing that’s breaking new ground, and making a real difference in people’s lives?


Thanks to Jim Knaggs and the Salvation Army for pushing us to greater levels of creativity and effectiveness.


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  1. That is really inspirational.

    Our Christian radio station in Australia is currently running a campaign which although does target our listeners, it is designed to trigger community action. We ask our listeners to download our letter template, write a note of encouragement, and then ‘as they feel led’ give that note to a stranger throughout their day. The aim is a call to action to our listeners, but to then trigger a positive response in the greater community.

    Any of our listeners who tell us they have done this task, we send them a DVD of the movie “The Letter Writer” (which inspired this campaign).


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