Posted by:
Carli Goodfellow, Director of Digital Influence
17th Nov 16

#FirstFiver – A lesson in Campaign Creation

A charitable groundswell has taken the internet by storm in the past two months, following the Bank of England’s launch of the new polymer five pound note which went into circulation on September 13th.


It’s taken 2 months and 3 days for me to finally get my hands on one of these shiny new notes. In the same time, one man’s tweet about the new legal tender has resulted in an estimated 2.5 million charitable donations from Britons handing their very first new fiver to their charity of choice. Research published this week by Charities Aid foundation estimates the campaign has raised up to £12.5m to date. And the idea cost nothing.

In an age where brands don’t flinch at spending upwards of a million pounds on a TV advert and a further fistful of fivers for the TV slot itself, it’s a refreshing and important reminder when an idea such as this can impact consumers spending behaviour so effortlessly.


This is a case of accidental co-creation, whereby a single influencer has inadvertently collaborated with charities en masse to deliver something so simple yet more impactful and frankly more brilliant than either could have done by themselves.

Above all, the campaign showcases the power of working alongside influential advocates for a brand or cause, and as PR professionals we can take some clear learnings and bold reminders.

1. The most authentic campaigns have real consumer insight at their core
Brands with a culture of customer driven innovation or insight are on the front foot here. Gone are the days when the best creative ideas come from professionals sitting around the boardroom table during brainstorms or blue sky thinking sessions. The best ideas come from real customers, real consumers and real people who are actually impacted by a product or service, so we should be throwing the spotlight onto them – Inviting them in, engaging and listening to the insight they bring to the table.

John Thompson, the corporate fundraising consultant from Hertfordshire who posted the original tweet told BBC Trending that he had the idea after reading about the introduction of the new polymer notes.

“People were being really negative about the new design, and I just thought charities would be more than happy to have them – that’s where the idea came from.”

2. Accessibility and choice are key
The #FirstFiver campaign idea was picked up not by a single charity in the first instance, but by The Institute of Fundraising (IOF), the UK’s professional membership body for fundraising. With 6,000 fundraisers across the UK they promoted it to the teams, using their membership to spread awareness from people rather than a corporate body. Research suggested that one in six UK adults heard of the campaign, a scale which just couldn’t have been achieved by a single charity or brand without paid media support.

The fact the campaign gives the public a choice as to whom they pledge their support to, has meant that this is the ultimate in relevance and accessibility of charity social media campaigns seen in 2016 thus far.


If our client campaigns can evoke an action, whilst empowering consumers to make a choice of their own the resulting uptake will always be greater than an idea that alienates or focusses on a particular audience segment.

Customers like choice. This campaign delivers that.

3. Simple and memorable campaign creative
Using the catchy hashtags #FirstFiver and #FiverGiver, people have happily jumped on the bandwagon to pledge their support, sharing their act of generosity online amongst their peers.

And charities in their thousands have added to the groundswell, willing their own supporters to join the movement.



There’s nothing complex or confusing here. This is the Ronseal of campaign messaging and these two killer hashtags, alongside the weekly meme for #CharityTuesday during which Charities are thrown into the spotlight across the Twittersphere, ticks all the boxes.

4. Embracing cause related marketing
Philanthropic campaigns are on the rise as consumers demand more transparency and honestly from brands around the ethics of their business. As the impact of this moves beyond brand opinion and start affecting the bottom line, more and more brands are investing in cause marketing efforts. So much so in fact that the ‘social good’ category was the most entered one at the 2016 Shorty Awards which recognize great content for social media!
Campaigns of this nature, that act to support the cause of not just one but every single charitable organization in the UK must be onto something!

5. Longevity
Many social campaigns have a relatively short shelf life. They gain momentum, trending status, and then start to loose airtime. The genius of this is the long term and drawn-out nature of the activity. People like myself are still picking up their first fiver 2 months down the road, and I hope to see charities continue to benefit from donations as the new notes continue to trickle through circulation in the months ahead.

I for one will definitely be watching this space for the awards in 2017 that hero this as the charity campaign of the year and will wait to see which Charities come out with follow up campaigns next summer when the new polymer £10 note featuring the image of author Jane Austen is launched. Even more interesting will be where that creative idea comes from and more importantly from whom.

Carli Goodfellow
Director of Digital Influence

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