Powerful Ads Attempt To Turn ‘Likes’ Into Medicine

May 3, 2013

It’s no mystery that social media platforms play a big role in a company’s marketing strategies. Growing their following and fan-base provides companies with an in-depth look at consumer demographics, allows them to engage consumers with more direct messaging, build brand awareness and much more.

From the consumer side, social media keeps people up-to-date with their favorite companies, offers special promotions for a product or service, and allows them to support organizations that have missions they believe in.

For nonprofits, the third part of the consumer side is key. Social media helps build awareness for their causes. But, how often do retweets, shares and followers turn into actual donations?

A bold new campaign from UNICEF Sweden, “Likes Don’t Save Lives,” is attempting to capitalize on the virtual support by turning Facebook likes into monetary donations for vaccines.

The description underneath the video explains the motive behind the campaign, which is relatively simple but very direct:

It’s easier than ever to support a good cause — all you have to do is hit the like button.


The organization gets one more supporter and you get positive publicity among your friends. But even though it’s important to be liked, likes can’t fund medicine, water or food. In this we highlight the absurdness of our blind faith in likes, to raise money for vaccine.

Each component of the campaign, whether it’s the poster ad featured above or the series of videos, challenges so-called “slacktivists” to put their money where their mouse is and donate to buy vaccines for children.

Personally, the powerful messaging caught me off guard, in a good way. UNICEF took what “donate today” commercials have been doing for years, increased the potency of the messaging, updated it for social media and delivered it to people that have already showed a vested interest in the company.

But is it too bold and will it turn people away from donating by calling them out more directly? Or could the campaign be a great success, producing more vaccines for children?

The campaign only recently launched, so it’s too early to tell what the financial outcome will be for UNICEF but other organizations have to be taking notice and it has to be making people question if social media support is enough to make a difference for real people.