December 22, 2011

Oxfam America Spurs Holiday Gifts With 'Cheeky' Campaign

Think you're a bad gift giver?

You're not alone, says the actress Scarlett Johansson in an animated video that's helping to increase year-end donations to Oxfam America, the U.S. branch of the global development charity. The video is part of a campaign that pokes fun at holiday-gift traditions to spur support for Oxfam.

In the video, Ms. Johansson is the voice of an animated female character who discourages viewers from giving lame holiday gifts—like a picture of a kitten or an ugly sweater. Instead, she suggests going to the group's online portal, Oxfam America Unwrapped, and purchasing something more meaningful: chickens for a farmer, books for kids, or fruit trees for a village. "Now, these are really great gifts," she says.

The video has garnered a "lot of traffic," says Stephanie Kurzina, vice president for development and communications at Oxfam America. Giving through its online portal has been strong, she says, up more than 20 percent over last year.

To date, 4,724 people have clicked through the video to the site, resulting in more than $87,000 in donations from 778 transactions.

The video has been picked up by BBC America, CNN, and the Oprah Winfrey Network, says Josh Silva, a spokesman for Oxfam America. He says the video's look and message are part of the holiday campaign this year: a series of illustrations used as print and online advertisements that take a creative approach to the theme of giving.

Some of the messages said:

• "Fruit baskets feed an office for a day. Fruit trees feed a family for life."

• "No one thinks a toilet is a perfect gift until they need one."

• "When you give a fruitcake, everyone goes hungry."

"It's been so successful because it's played into not just an illustrative angle but the whole campaign," Mr. Silva says. "It's fun and cheeky."