Glimpse: changing the script for charities and NGOs

From filling a tube station with posters of cats to launching a series of pop-ups stores where shoppers could buy products to aid refugees, the Glimpse collective is offering a new form of storytelling for charities. We talk to two of its founders

Before co-founding the Glimpse collective in 2016, James Turner had spent ten years working for Greenpeace, acting as communications director for high profile campaigns including Save The Arctic. Yet he was surprised to find all his previous charitable marketing endeavours upstaged by Glimpse’s very first project, a set of posters featuring cats.

The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (aka C.A.T.S) saw 68 posters placed in Clapham Common Underground Station simply showing photographs of felines. The project, which was funded by £25,000 raised in a Kickstarter campaign, aimed to create a moment “joy and curiosity” for commuters but also to raise more serious questions around consumerism and how advertising affects our lives and wellbeing.

It generated an enormous response on social media and in the press, one that many advertisers can only dream of. “It was so huge,” says Turner. “I worked at Greenpeace for ten years and we got more media coverage for C.A.T.S than anything I ever did at Greenpeace, which is staggering. But at least it proved there was something in this and there was an opportunity to do more.”

The ‘this’ is Glimpse, which prior to the success of C.A.T.S was more a loose idea or experiment than an organised collective. Now it has over 1,600 members and is working with NGOs and charities including Help Refugees, Fairtrade Foundation and the RSPB.