“Since then I never looked back”. That is the end sentence of each of the three persons in three different TV-ads produced by the Irish National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA): a mother, an older man and a younger guy. All of them really looked forward, explaining what they gained from participating in literacy courses.
Clare McNally of NALA explained some of the key objectives and messages of the advertising campaigns:
“We want to remove the stigma of people who cannot read. The campaigns should act as a trigger to do something, and of course we want to let people know that there is help available,” she said.
NALA has run advertising campaigns twice a year for seven years with the result of 18,000 calls to the hotline that is mentioned in all the ads.
“The callers were relieved to know others had a similar problem, and happy to learn that help is available. They were also relieved that the service was confidential,” Clare McNally explained.
Noteworthy was that the TV-ads had most effect on men – who usually are more reluctant to join courses.
The effect is not just to be counted in direct calls to the hotline. Local Adult Literacy Organisers have noticed a significant increase in adults enrolling in literacy classes since the adverts were first broadcasted. Specifically they noticed an increase in what they defined as the ‘hard to reach’ population.
Advertising on national TV is expensive, and the NALA campaigns are only possible because of the sponsorship of the Irish national post company An Post.
“For us it is a good sponsor because you know your postman. That is the one you ask to help read letters, and the post office is a part of the local community,” said Clare McNally.
“For An Post, literacy campaign is a good branding in the community – and it is obviously related. People, who don’t read and write so well, do not send that many letters,” she said.