Results of poll on RSPB TV advert

This little poll attracted 571 responses.

Thank you to all who took part.

Your comments on the TV advert were varied and fascinating.  The comments were generally less positive towards the advert than the voting – people who like things might take a few seconds to vote but don’t go out of their way to make a comment?

Question 1: Are you an RSPB member?


No – and I never will be in the future  9%

No – but I might be in the future  26%

Yes I am  65%


Question 2:


Many people responded that as far as they were concerned the advert wouldn’t make much difference to how they felt about the RSPB (42%) but 23% would feel a bit keener to support the RSPB and 19% a lot keener to support them: only 16% of respondents said the advert would make them feel less keen to support the RSPB (6% a lot less keen and 10% a bit less keen).

Results like this will have persuaded the RSPB that this advert was worth the money – 42% of people seeing this advert felt keener (or much keener) to support the RSPB, and that figure is much higher than the number of people where the reaction was to feel less keen to support the RSPB (only 16%).


Question 3:  How do you think that watching this advert will, on the whole, make people in general feel about supporting the RSPB?

There is more good news here for the RSPB (although, clearly it isn’t ‘news’ because they will have tested this advert before releasing it into the ‘wild’.

Most people (54%) thought that the general public would be keener to support the RSPB after watching the advert and only 5% thought that people would be put off (leaving 40% who didn’t think it would make much difference).

So, to summarise; overall, visitors to this website liked the advert themselves or weren’t much bothered about it either way, and thought that the general public would receive it even more favourably.  There was an element of ‘I don’t mind it, in fact I quite like it, but others will like it more than I do.

We can take this analysis a little further – and it’s interesting if we do.

Not surprisingly, on this website, most respondents are RSPB members (well done!). Of those who aren’t members some say they will never be members.  Although these people may see the light in future they are obviously not very warm to the RSPB at the moment.  But some people are ‘warm’ non-members – we might call them ‘prospects’.

If you want to grow your support (financial, moral, volunteering etc) then ideally anything you do will keep the existing members happy and make the prospects even happier.  In other words you maintain your current supporters but recruit some prospects.  We can look to see if this seems to be the case – and it is.

When answering Question 2, 15% of RSPB members and 13% of prospects ‘didn’t like it’ – both are small numbers.

44% of RSPB members were not much influenced by the advert, but 22% said they felt keener to support the RSPB and 19% said they felt a lot keener – that looks like maintaining your supporter base to me.  But when it came to prospects, 30% were relatively unmoved whereas 32% were a bit keener on giving the RSPB their support and 23% were a lot keener to support the RSPB.

This is just what you want an advert to do – or indeed any communication to do.  If the tests that the RSPB carried out gave similar results, and I am sure they will have been much more detailed but broadly similar, then this advert is very good. This is what the RSPB Board and Council will have been told something like this by the new Fundraising and Communications Director, Beth Thoren:  ‘Some people don’t like it (but not many people) and quite a lot of them didn’t like us anyway.  Current members mostly like it or aren’t bothered either way.  Prospects like it a lot and feel keener to support us.  Give me the money and I will increase the RSPB’s membership.’

There are things that can go wrong but this looks like a sound strategy.  Is enough money being invested to make sure that people do actually see the advert – I haven’t seen it on TV except once when I went looking for it?  Will that investment take resources away from other areas that are important in maintaining support – like actually doing some conservation work?  Were people telling the truth about how they felt and will that actually translate into action, money, support?  Will the RSPB’s competitors raise their game and nullify any impact?  We’ll see.





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21 Replies to “Results of poll on RSPB TV advert”

  1. .. or alternatively, well over half of respondents would be less inclined to support the rspb(sic) or weren't bothered ( although they were bothered enough to fill in the survey)
    Can we get back to the real issues now?

  2. I did not take part in the survey mostly because it passed me by somehow and I only saw the ad for the first time two days ago (I am a very selective TV viewer these days) but I quite like the ad. As an ex-employee, it may surprise everyone that I am not a member but that is because I cannot afford to having been long-term unemployed. Now many people might say quite rightly, that it is a trivial amount of money even to someone on basic benefits and I agree. However, I am also a graduate zoologist so to me and despite enormous spiritual support for my ex-colleagues, I want to support the BTO, WWT, International Otter Survival Fund, Lancs WT, the Shark Trust, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and possibly even the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Jersey Zoo)...all without mentioning an invertebrate charity. I could prioritise on a moderate wage but I would genuinely find it difficult to know which charity to support without a fair income and so it goes being on benefit. I could perhaps pick one charity to support but I can say with hand on heart that there is not one favourite that stands head and shoulders above the rest on that list although I suspect some people feel differently and do not have that dilemma.

  3. I can certainly empathise with you Ian, on many of your points.
    From a fellow zg

  4. An alternative poll....

    Q1. Are UK Governments (left to their own) devices likely to achieve effective conservation in the UK? (A: Y/N/IDK/IDC).

    Q2. Is the UK conservation movement more likely to be able to steer government (national and local) in the right direction and quickly enough if the relevant organisations work effectively together? (A: Y/N/IDK/IDC)

    Q3: IS UK conservation more likely to be successful if there is a credible plan, to which available resources, can be targeted, with a united conservation movement working in partnership with Government at al? (A: Y/N/IDK/IDC)

    Q4: Are more people likely to put money into UK nature conservation organisations if a credible plan and an effective partnership are in place (A: Y/N/IDK/IDC)

    Q5: Based on past evidence, do you think that what is in place at present has any real chance of delivering effective conservation in the UK? (A: Y/N/IK/IDC)

    NYYYN, anyone?

  5. Maybe it was only on channel 4,if so a cheap shot and of course not many people would have seen it unless looking for it.The proof of the pudding will be in whether the membership increase? in subs pays for the advert.perhaps Beth Thoren will lose her job if she is wrong.

    1. There are usually good deals involved in this kind of thing and you have inadvertently hit the nail on the head Dennis...the advert would be too expensive if aired during primetime shows. You may have gathered that this is nothing new and you would be right because there was an ad campaign when I worked at The Lodge. The difference here is that it neatly links into the BBC's Summer of Wildlife (define irony! 😉 ) and follows many of the messages that were beautifully illustrated during Springwatch this year. I doubt if it is practical to measure whether TV ads are truly successful given the link to the BBC programmes (if membership increases, would it have done so anyway on the back of a good Springwatch year? For example.).

  6. Whatever happened to the "Young Ornithologists' Club" ?
    Is work carried out at schools by volunteers ?
    To me this is the way forward to recruit new members.

    1. Andy, Now called wildlife explorers and yes volunteers do go into schools building nest boxes and much more. Excellent youth magazines produced by the RSPB (sorry rspb) and eagerly looked for my granddaughter among others.

  7. It's funny as I tried to do a bit of digging around on the RSPB's finances, not easy, and the only figures I could find were for 2006(?) and from the very accurate wiki'site(sic). They had raised £88 million from donations/legacies etc they spent £63.757 million on conservation projects yet the remaining £19.8 million went on reducing their pension deficit, so it seems any monies raised from this current ad campaign will not only be going to give "nature a home" but also ensure retired employees will be given a home ? Is that right? Shouldn't any pension defecit reduction come from the profits of the selling of bird food and other stuff from their shops and not donations? Still keen to hand over your money?

    1. Douglas, I am not sure if there are more updated figures available elsewhere on the website and I am surely not going to look for you but I am not sure I get the drift of this nonsense. If you want a truthful and uptodate set of figures then contact the RSPB directly, they are a public charity and as such will be perfectly willing to give you the information. I very much doubt if what you have stated here is the reality but if you feel it is, why not put your complaint to the Charity Commission rather than slinging mud on an Internet forum? After all it would me much more noble than trying to discredit without foundation...surely?

      1. Ian my "mud" came from here and I know how inaccurate Wikipedia can be but the entry is sourced from the rspb annual finance report published February 2007. So I feel it's not mud/bs. Now if that entry is inaccurate perhaps the RSPB should have it removed. Also I feel if I wanted to see quickly and easily the information it should be easily found on their website, especially since it's been "redeveloped", use the "search" button nothing!

        1. Fair enough Douglas, you have had the good grace to admit your sources may not be reliable and I admire you for that. However, I stand by what I said that it would be much more noble to go to the Charity Comission with a complaint rather than post something that adds fuel to a fire if you truly believe in what you are saying.

          As for putting financial information on the website - would you have that up front if you were say, promoting a cancer charity? There is a legal obligation for charities to be transparent about their finances but I am not sure why you think it would be logical to put this on the homepage ahead of the charity's message. Basically, no charity does that and why should they?

        2. Douglas if you go to the rsbp website as Ian suggested and follow the "about" tab you will find the 2012 trustees annual report and accounts they should answer all your questions.

  8. What is not clear from the advert is: Has the RSPB decided to change its overall strategy? Is future policy going to be to change its name, and drop birds from the name? In which case is it also going to drop the word Society? Is it going to drop Royal? And what about Protection, as opposed to Conservation? All these words are perceived by a proportion of the public as having old fashioned connotations. So the real question is, should the RSPB be trendy, and just follow fashion, because that's where the money is (or some people think it is), or should it stay with the mission of the founders? A Membership Society, for Protecting Birds (all with capitals!).
    I resigned last year for totally different reasons, but will rejoin next year, for totally different reasons. If nothing else, the changes have made people think, though I rather suspect that most of the readers of Mark's blog are on the side of the other flying vertebrates already. The RSPB has done a great job for over a century. I hope it doesn't lose the plot, and waste huge amounts of money on advertising.

    1. "The RSPB has done a great job for over a century. I hope it doesn’t lose the plot, and waste huge amounts of money on advertising."

      John, the RSPB has done a great job of keeping fingers in leaking dikes but sadly there are more leaks than fingers as the state of nature report demonstrates. The logical consequence of that failure long term. I for one am very please to see the society attempting to reach out beyond a million voice for nature. How else we gonna fix this problem?

  9. I've been a member on and off for years, as well as being an ex-employee.

    Right now, I couldn't give two hoots about the name, branding, lack of focus on birds or anything. What I care about is their success at conserving wildlife. Frankly, if the RSPB (or rspb) was to single out birds without considering the rest of the ecosystem in which they live, I would be less inclined to support them. We must take a holistic view of wildlife conservation rather than singling out a single taxa.

    I still have issues about a number of RSPB policies but, like it or not, they do make things happen.

  10. I think the rspb has changed completely to get more subs,they have done some homework and that has shown that if they are cuddly and not so pro raptors more subs will follow.That must be the reason they are on a big recruitment drive and asking for donations.we had a letter asking for donation so presumably all one million members did which must have cost say at least three hundred thousand pounds while in similar circumstances they could not even bother to put a flyer which would have cost very little in with the magazine to drum up support for Hen Harrier petition.
    The P for protection in this instance totally ignored so goodbye rspb.

    1. An interesting point Dennis but surely a case of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'? If you read places like Bird Forum, the RSPB is just as likely to be slated for supporting BoP causes as it is condemned for not doing so. I think conservation is a bit like that and it is one of the reasons that stops the WWT and Wildlife Trusts growing larger than they are. Their membership is so much lower that even a few members lost due to voicing a position on a controversial subject can be critical. Yet the balance is that they rarely get the attention they deserve because they do not speak up when they should. A great example is the WWT and the ruddy duck cull, whilst I am sure they got their share of criticism, they were nothing like as proactive in their views as the RSPB were. Now that is not a crticism of the WWT per se because I for one would not like to be in the role of is more tough than many of us can imagine. However, the truth of the matter is that the RSPB can benefit from riding on the back of Springwatch but equally they are going to be the obvious target when we have a view about something that grates on us (and there are potentially many in conservation).

    2. I have asked about why the RSPB did not support the petition relating to Hen Harriers, and various other petitions, and was told that there are so many, they cannot support all of them. As a volunteer who works a lot on Hen Harrier monitoring and protection, I am looking forward to helping out next weekend with the Hen Harrier Carnival. On Saturday 27th July we are at the Alnwick Garden, and on Sunday 29th at the Greenhead Duck Festival, and we will have acrobats and jugglers to tell a fictional story of the last breeding pair of Hen Harriers. Come and see us.

      The RSPB is certainly doing more than any other conservation organisation (or Natural England) for this raptor, as well as what they are doing for other raptor species.

  11. And while on the subject of unpopular views, I refer readers to the American Bird Conservancy website, as they are one of the few bird organisations of any size, to speak penly about the problem of free ranging cats.
    A topic that the RSPB has occasionally mentioned but wearing kid-gloves. Again a situation where damned if you do and damned if you don't.


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