Drawing Attention to Your Cause
That question of focus is perhaps most critical when the mission is to enlist the support of millions of people to support a cause or help find a cure for a deadly or debilitating disease — because you have the added complication of not making fun of the very serious reason for getting in touch in the first place.
When we created the last-issue onsert used by the Arthritis Foundation to prompt membership renewals, I didn’t make fun of the disease or those afflicted with it. Instead, I focused on the critical role members play in the search for a cure. And how that search for a cure would be compromised without their continued help. Along the way, we gave recipients hope and recognition, and they rewarded us with a stream of responses that established the onsert as a control for more than 15 years.
We took a similar approach recently when we created a new test piece for a major charity involved in the search for a cure for another disease. I’m bound to nondisclosure of its identity, but I can tell you that the focus of the cartoon element in the piece was quite similar — that the recipient can make a difference, and the vehicle for making that difference is the piece of mail she’s holding in her hands.
In another member-acquisition piece, we focused on the way the recipient would be perceived by others for having taken action. And it appears that has now resulted in a new control for one of the top five mailers in the U.S.
As you can imagine, creating a truly effective personalized cartoon piece requires a healthy dose of nuance. A misplaced word, even an untoward use of punctuation can make the difference between something that turns out well or falls flat. Ditto for the style of drawing or composition of the piece. And that assumes you’re starting out with a strong core concept for the gag.