The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is one of the UK’s most well-known and beloved charities, saving over 140,000 lives since their founding in 1824. Following an internal transformation, they wanted to shake up their image — showing how they impact everyone’s lives, not just salty old sea dogs

A new dawn for a British institution

Services provided:

Creative Ideation
Creative Concept Platforms
Meta & Instagram Campaigns
X Campaigns
A huge opportunity to dig into the public consciousness

BBC 1 was set to run a 6 week series showing RNLI crews in action, titled 'Saving Lives at Sea'. Knowing that the average reach for BBC 1 broadcast spots is 5.9 million people, the RNLI had a huge brand awareness opportunity. So, we set to work maximising its potential.

Due to the BBC’s impartiality guidelines, we were unable to use any of the series’ footage. We’d need to find another way of making the link to Saving Lives at Sea. What we did have was access to the RNLI crew members who would appear in each episode. It was the recognisable link we needed between our campaign and the TV programme.

More than a drop in the ocean

Using a combination of social media and Out Of Home marketing, we created a series of eye-catching moments that drove people to engage with, follow and support the RNLI’s online presence. We think the results speak for themselves.





"The RNLI can be satisfied with its marketing efforts this summer; making quite a dent in the public consciousness."

Nadhim Zahawi: MP and YouGov Founder

Season two: effective altruism

However, we weren’t done yet. Following the show’s success, it was soon renewed for a second season and extended to 12 weeks, meaning we could run a longer tail journey. 

New objective: build a longer, more engaging and more informative journey that would take the public #BeyondTheRescue and towards active supporting steps like donating, volunteering and getting involved. 

Armed with a new effective altruism approach, the bbd team sprung into action — mapping out a 12 week campaign run time with themes that that would educate, emotionally connect with and activate viewers to support the cause. 

Hyper-targeted messaging and audience profiles on social media supported this strategy, aligned with channel opportunities and audience ‘moments’.

Execution and delivery

Our Facebook social campaign was split into 3 streams: Awareness, Performance and Action.

  • Different messaging was delivered each week
  • Retargeting was executed on lookalike engagement

On X (formerly known as Twitter), use of a Promoted Poll enabled further content generation. 

  • This supported our awareness campaign: ‘You won’t believe what else the RNLI do.

Finally, for the Out Of Home campaign we delivered a digital 6 sheet that spread wider awareness and reinforced the RNLI’s brand message.

  • These ran across key dwell areas for the last 4 weeks of campaign

We also supported the RNLI in creation and delivery of content and assets for their own organic streams of content and community social support. These included live videos and real time programme engagement.

Could you be our next client?

If you’ve seen something in our case studies that got you excited, made you want to learn more, or you’d just like to meet the team behind the work – let’s talk.