CSR-style Campaigns at the 2016 Media Awards



The annual Media Awards will take place on Thursday March 31st at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Dublin 4. The awards are open to advertising agencies, companies and brand managers, media buyers and planners – essentially any marketer or advertiser operating in “all areas of the media including print, digital, outdoor, TV, radio and cinema”.

There is a plethora of award categories, ranging from ‘Best Use of Media’ to ‘Best Creative/Direction’, through to ‘Media Agency of the Year’ and the best sponsorship campaign, and on to the accolades for the best examples of Data Analytics and Search Engine Optimisation. There is even a ‘Grand Prix’ prize awarded to the category winner that, in the judges’ opinion, stands out above all the rest.

The Media Awards are ostensibly about recognising the most effective campaigns in the Irish advertising industry. But, in this post, we want to focus on the nominees that have integrated some element of CSR or social responsibility into their campaigns.

The Tesco Community Fund

Tesco Community Fund (source tesco.ie)

Tesco Ireland has received a nomination in the category of “Best Sales Initiative” for their Community Fund. How Tesco’s fund works is that each time you shop at a Tesco outlet, you are given a set of blue tokens. Within the store, shoppers will then see a display showing three good causes. As Tesco explain, these causes could range from “fixing a leaky roof in the local school or clubhouse, to helping the elderly or maintaining the local playground”, but they generally have a local dimension.

Depending on which of the 3 causes resonate the most with them, shoppers then drop their blue tokens into the relevant box. Once every two months, the tokens for each good cause are counted, and up to €1,000 is shared proportionally between the various causes depending on the number of tokens they have received.

Since starting the fund in 2014, Tesco Ireland say they have been able to donate over €1 million to 3,500 deserving causes, varying from emergency elderly care in Finglas to animal rescue services in Cork and musical education projects in Westport. What makes it a particularly effective CSR-based sales initiative is that the shopper is involved in deciding the destination of the donations. With each purchase they make, the typical Tesco customer is enrolled as a supporter of the causes. And as the good causes for each store tend to relate to the community in the immediate vicinity of the Tesco outlet, that customer is also likely to have a strong emotional connection with the potential recipients of the fund.

Kenco’s ‘Coffee v. Gangs’ campaign in collaboration with The Irish Times

Coffee vs. Gangs (image source Irish Times).jpg

Coffee vs. Gangs is a campaign that the coffee manufacturer Kenco has been running since 2014 in the troubled Central American country of Honduras. Kenco set up the project in response to the ever-present threat of criminal gangs in the lives of young Honduran men. The initiative is targeted at youths who are in danger of getting involved with gang violence.

Kenco describe the project thus: “We offer a group of young people a chance of a better life, by training them to be coffee farmers with the skills to grow great quality beans”. In addition to trying to lure impressionable young men away from a life of crime, Kenco’s Coffee vs. Gangs initiative supports them in building their own businesses.

The local angle here comes from The Irish Times and their prominent support of the Kenco Coffee vs. Gangs campaign, for which the newspaper has been nominated in the category of “Best Collaboration between an Agency and a Media Owner” at the 2016 Media Awards. This is an award category which honours successful partnerships between brands and media platforms, particularly those that use digital media in innovative ways.

As part of the collaboration between Kenco and the Irish Times, the paper published a series of interviews with participants on the Kenco Coffee Vs Gangs training course in rural Honduras. The Irish Times journalist Gary Quinn visited Honduras to learn about the journey of the 19 young people selected by Kenco. He created a series of video vignettes, all published on the Irish Times website,  depicting the personal journeys of each of the project participants, and the huge obstacles they had to overcome to escape the violent gang culture of Honduras. The Irish Times expanded the scope of the series, going on to publish a number of in-depth articles on issues relating to the importance of coffee to the Central American region, the persistence of poverty in the area, plus the wider ramifications of the increasing power of narco-gangs.

This proved to be a mutually-beneficial partnership: Kenco received a huge level of attention for their Coffee Vs. Gangs CSR campaign, while The Irish Times were able to deliver compelling storytelling content for the readership on the power of criminal gangs in Central America (while also generating advertising revenue for the paper).

The Kenco-Irish Times partnership is a clear example of the online marketing technique that has become known as ‘Native Advertising’. This has become a controversial practise in some quarters, with certain critics claiming it tricks readers into mistaking advertising copy for genuine news stories. The Irish Times, however, goes to great lengths on it’s website and in their printed edition to state they have “control over all editorial content associated with the project”.

What we can definitely declare about this partnership is that it delivered compelling content (the personal stories of the project participants) in an engaging format (short video stories) to a readership who might not have been too familiar with the social issues behind the campaign (i.e. the poverty and gang violence facing a generation of young men in Central American countries). For these reasons, we can say the Kenco-Irish Times collaboration has been a tremendous success and is a worthy nominee in the 2016 Media Awards.

Gas Networks Ireland & Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week 2016


Gas Networks Ireland has received a nomination in the category of “Best Use of Media (Niche)” for their Carbon Monoxide Awareness campaign.

The issue of carbon monoxide poisoning could, in the wrong hands, have the potential to be overly worthy or preachy for the average viewer. So, for their public awareness campaign, Gas Networks Ireland tried a fresh, light-hearted approach.

Gas Networks Ireland and their creative partners Carat Ireland created a cartoon character called Tommy McAnairey, a gravel-voiced, folk balladeer and canary. Tommy McAnairey acted as a singing ambassador for the public awareness campaign, warning gravely of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning in an animated TV ad.

Over €150,000 was spent by GNI on a nationwide campaign spanning TV, radio and digital platforms to promote Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, which ran from September 21th to 27th in 2015. The campaign even included the release of a single – ‘Carbon Monoxide is Lethal as Hell’ performed  by the Tommy McAnairey character  – with all proceeds from the single going to Age Action Ireland. Like the Kenco Coffee Vs. Gangs initiative, we can see that Gas Networks Ireland are addressing a serious issue (the number of carbon monoxide-related fatalities in Ireland every year) in a way that really resonates with consumers.


The full shortlist for all 20 award categories is published on the Media Awards website. The Media Awards are sponsored by DMG Media Ireland, RTE Media Sales, Dublin Airport and Maximum Media, and the 2016 awards ceremony takes place on March the 31st. For information on sponsorship opportunities please contact Des Doris on 01 284 6096 or John McGee on 01 661 1660. Bookings for the ceremony can be made here.

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