• by Zoë Stanton, Co-founder & MD of Uscreates.
  • Jul 01, 2014

Have you noticed that the Putting Value on Social Programmes event is all about the number 1million? Glenn Mannoff (O2), Craig Williams (GSK) and Bella Vuillermoz (Sky) will all be talking about programmes involving the magic 1 million mark.

These join many other campaigns based around 1million – including Diageo’s 1 million challenge to improve access to clean water and Shell’s programme to help one million motorists learn how to save fuel.

I am encouraged by the number of big brand campaigns around at the moment about social value and related topics. Compelling, results-driven programmes can change the way that people shop, eat, work, travel and live for the better. Our clients and many others are using existing resources to achieve and maximise social value and business objectives.

SMART campaigns need targets
Pioneering brands know that targets are vital if you are planning a SMART campaign. They help you measure, reach goals and keep you focused. A million is simple to communicate and market. It sounds impressive, and is easy to remember.

Way back in 2007, M&S were one of the first big brands to communicate big targets to their customers. Plan A helped them integrate sustainability in to their business activity, prompting all functions within the business to start thinking differently.

Considering all this, I found myself asking - is there a downside to all these big brands, big numbers and big campaigns?

When 1 million is not enough
1 million. Sounds like a lot. But if everyone is aiming to touch, reach, impact on 1 million people, it just sounds like a number like any other, so the numbers need to get bigger to get the same effect. For example, Girl Effect set a larger target; to connect one hundred million girls across the world.

What does a million really mean?
Touching a million, reaching a million, impacting on a million. The target itself isn’t SMART. After all, reaching a million people is very different to having a positive impact on a million people’s lives.

A question for you
Bringing about change at scale is a huge challenge for business. Truly changing people and behaviours is not easy: it takes time, money, innovation and drive; particularly if you have adventurous targets.

Would we do better making a big difference to fewer people or a smaller difference to many (e.g. 1 million)? How should we measure the relative value that these two scenarios could bring?

How do you choose between breadth and depth of impact over time? Does it depend on your goals and your brand? What do you think? Please join @uscreates and @gmopinion in our conversation on this at #gmforum #socialvalue


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