The Good Brief: Connecting Creative People with Causes

Chris_ferguson_headshot111 Chris Ferguson is the Executive Creative Director at Tribal Worldwide a global creative agency headquartered in New York City with 60 offices spanning 42 countries around the globe. This is Chris’s first contribution to The Makegood.

Creative people are passionate, there’s no denying that, and professionals who earn their living through commercial creativity in the field of advertising, design, event planning, technology and public relations are no different.  Individuals in the creative community have a kinship that fuels passion and the zeal to deliver amongst peers, and creatives bring this intensity and pride to every assignment.

The influence of these creative outputs has never been so far-reaching; going beyond client and customer, making an impact on those with an overwhelming need.  Never before have so many people in the world required help. Conversely, never before have creative minds had so many tools, and excitement for using those tools, at their disposal.

I recently had a career-changing conversation with a colleague I have tremendous respect for. He told me, “Winning a Lion is awesome but I want to change the world.”

This bit of wisdom opened my eyes to the bigger picture and the bigger opportunity at hand. Creative people when connected to good causes may be the world’s most valuable natural resource. A resource that can “change the world.”

As technology becomes more and more of a comfortable tool in the hands of creative people, the scale of the solution is starting to match the ambition. Using technology to solve social responsibility challenges has fostered the growth of a different kind of solution — a solution that generates value on a recurring basis with little maintenance. The notion of a self-sustaining idea that works as an “engine” has the creative community, which naturally searches for “what’s possible,” giddy with excitement.

Tribal Worldwide is involved with an organization called The LunchBox Fund, which was started in 2005 by Topaz Page-Green, a former model. The Fund provides meals to African children during school hours, which tactically, solves two problems: feeds hungry children and incentivizes them to attend school, daily.

When the brief came to the agency, the creative minds ate it up. The solution wasn’t a one time print campaign featuring celebrities – which it easily could have been given the Founder’s background. Instead Tribal’s NY office developed an app, called Feedie, that turns the behavior of sharing food online into sharing actual food with those in need – turning foodies into feedies. This is a perfect example of creative minds not only embracing an opportunity but also using technology to create a charitable “engine” that will live and grow for many years to come.

Another example is one that I hold up as the gold standard as far as charitable “engines” go. Liam, a five year old, was born without extremities, a disease called Amniotic Band Syndrome. Being fitted for prosthetic hands, a necessity for 5-year-olds is timely and expensive. Worst of all, kids grow which means they have to go through this timely, expensive process every year until they are fully-grown. MakerBot stepped in with a donated 3D printer, designs, and printing instructions so Liam can output a perfectly sized prosthetic as his body changes. A one-time solution to a recurring challenge. Brilliant.

Started in 2007, the Tap Project for UNICEF, created by Droga5, created a simple, real-world ask from restaurant patrons, “will you pay for tap water?” The money people willingly gave to drink what was normally free went to those who don’t view clean-drinking water as a right.  The latest iteration of the campaign encourages people to “turn on their tap” by making a small donation and sharing water with their Facebook friends. A perfect example of how creative minds are able to re-think what’s possible through the use of technology.

If you are part of a charitable organization, a group that helps others, and you need help reach out to the creative community. They are your most valuable resource. They are, in my experience, ready willing and able to “change the world” or at least give it their best shot.