The message of this campaign is complex: Cuso International is asking you to take your expertise, leave your life behind for as much as two years, and travel overseas to share your skills and insight with others. With volunteer positions available in industries such as health care, education, forestry, IT, business, and more, the campaign needed to be designed to reach a variety of professional audiences. Audience segmentation for this project required us to consider the psychographic element beyond the demographic.
Few of us can afford to walk away from our obligations and work for lower wages, which is an important factor in the decision-making process for the target audience of this campaign. Time is also a factor with the types of positions offered through Cuso, as positions become available quickly and may not leave much time for consideration before they need to be accepted. All of these elements needed to be factored into how the design of the campaign was presented.
After researching competing global development initiatives, we identified another challenge: most of these organizations take a similar approach to visuals, messaging, and media outlets, making it difficult for audiences to recognize one over another.
Our goal was to simplify the message and establish a unique back story and brand character for this project to help Cuso International stand out as the tenured, elite organization it truly is.
Working in close partnership with Cuso, we conducted focused research with experienced members of the organization and its volunteers. Their input and knowledge of the organization’s goals helped us better understand the message for the campaign and establish an appropriate communication and placement strategy.
Research had shown market confusion among potential volunteers due to the overuse of ‘global development imagery’. This insight informed the core tactical design and media strategy.
Following a comprehensive audit of competing organizations within the sector, we understood the importance of achieving visual and media mix differentiation and maintaining the brand’s focus on global development. We researched textile print techniques from the countries and regions where Cuso partners with local project teams to produce a suite of relevant, vibrant patterns for use across multiple media platforms including digital networks where we deployed a retargeting campaign as well as a targeted niche network segmenting by language, location, and professional discipline.
Psychographics are important to media planning for this campaign, and accordingly we ran extensive and humorous digital display ads on online dating networks, suggesting that if you’re looking for fulfillment, volunteering with Cuso may be an option.
Different textile patterns were used for advertising assets relating to projects within specific geographical regions to help differentiate the opportunities offered by Cuso, professionally and geographically. For the master brand assets relating to Cuso International in the broader sense, we developed a design that brought all of the individual assets together.
Sketching and adapting a pattern based on the core colour palette and organizational logo, our graphic design lead created a vector pattern that reflected traditional block printing techniques for textiles. The pattern works as a mosaic print and as a kaleidoscope in digital environments, reflecting Cuso International’s evolving global partnerships.
Our visual approach was to avoid the overplayed imagery of westerners working in diverse geographies among local citizens, choosing instead to incorporate textures and patterns drawn from familiar cultural textiles to establish a stronger sense of place. The patterns fill the word forms, creating strong visual impact through colour and contrast. The strategy was to deliver a simple, stand out message and eliminate the heavy content from frontline visual assets, drawing potential volunteers to the website to take a self-guided tour of the deep content based on their unique backgrounds and interests.
The roll-out strategy involved reaching out through both targeted and broad North American media outlets, customizing content based on the specific audiences we were trying to reach. We also developed a Returned Volunteer Kit, designed to provide volunteers with collateral to help promote the organization and their experience across their professional and personal networks. This tactical referral program supports the paid advertising campaign and is comparatively inexpensive and efficient to promote.
Year over year, the combination of targeted advertising in key markets and to key professional groups with grassroots communications programming has reduced spend by 35% and declining.
Success for this project was measured via the attainment of specific recruitment benchmarks, under tight timelines. Cuso sought a blended cohort of 120 volunteers of diverse professional background and language to match distinct volunteer opportunities around the world. The ratio for success is roughly 10 to one, or 10 recruits to successfully find and choose one volunteer.
The secondary goal is to grow a community of future volunteers around the organization to build a pipeline and ease the pressure of the annual volunteer drive.
The campaign’s return exceeded targets, and due to the mix of positioning and direct campaign assets and events, continued to feed the pipeline for the following year’s volunteer group of 80 people, differentiated by a strong focus on Spanish-speaking volunteer recruitment.
“The new creative has helped advance the visibility of our brand. The clean copy and design help us cut through the noise and increase the strength of our message in a very crowded market. We love it.”
—Jennifer Buter, Communications Officer, Cuso International
“The 2013 Cuso International Campaign allowed our organization to refresh our message, re-captivate our warm audience and target new audiences. The ads are colourful, attractive and the ask is clear and direct. We are incredibly pleased with the positive response we’ve had to the campaign—the solid recruitment numbers say everything.”
—Erin Bateman, International Placement and Recruitment Manager, Cuso International