Powerful new NSPCC ad

A striking new ad for the children’s charity NSPCC avoids overt shock tactics with a compelling story that takes a heart-wrenching turn halfway through…

The film, below, features a child training to be an astronaut, and uses beautiful filmmaking combined with an absorbing voiceover to deliver a message of how abuse stunts children’s hopes, dreams and imagination.

NSPCC_Alfie the Astronaut stills10
NSPCC_Alfie the Astronaut stills09
NSPCC_Alfie the Astronaut stills08

We are used to seeing extremely distressing imagery for charities such as the NSPCC, but the shock approach can be off-putting to audiences as well as attention-grabbing. This ad, by Leo Burnett London, has adopted a more subtle strategy, using the intriguing imagery of the boy as an astronaut to draw viewers into the tale, before his tragic story is delivered by the voiceover.

“The NSPCC has taken a slightly different approach,” says Matt Lee, creative on the spot with Pete Heyes. “In this category typically you just show people the problem and then you leave it at that, it’s a one-way conversation. When we were working on this we did a lot of difficult research and we found that kids that have suffered from abuse or neglect, their imaginations disappear and they can’t see past the abuse. So that was the negative but we needed to do something that let people out at the end, which had a positive outcome. And so we came up with the idea of a boy dreaming to go to the moon, wanting to be an astronaut.

“When you combine the imagery of a boy enjoying training to go to the moon and then you hear his story, the two things combined to work in a very powerful way.”

“We wanted to put our services at the heart of the story and tell people how the NSPCC helps children just like Alfie to recover from domestic and physical violence or other abuse,” says Tessa Herbert, NSPCC head of marketing. “Rather than showing the abuse in a shocking way, we wanted the audience to live out Alfie’s uplifting dreams and layer this with the story of how the NSPCC helped him and his mum.”

Agency: Leo Burnett London
Creatives: Matt Lee, Pete Heyes
Creative director: Beri Cheatham
ECD: Justin Tindall
Director: Chris Hewitt
Production company: Knucklehead

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