Advertising hope

Secret Millionaire is a new show on ABC this year that is doing something really special—advertising hope. Exactly what this country needs right now.

This week’s show sent its millionaire to Gary, Indiana to volunteer at three different organizations. Though I’ve certainly heard of Gary, Indiana, I never knew how depressed the city was.

You see burned out buildings, abandoned storefronts, and trash and debris piled up in many places. You hear stories from residents there that make you wonder how these people survive.

By the title of the show, you may think that the hope comes from the millionaire—after all, he donates a good amount of money to each charity. It doesn’t—not really anyway.

The hope comes from the people working at these charities. Most don’t or barely draw a salary from the organization. But they’re working hard, very hard, to save the kids in their town, the adults in their town and the neighborhoods in their town.

These people are so grateful for any help they get, and they nearly pass out when handed checks with four zeroes on them. It’s a reminder to us all what’s important. It’s easy to lose sight of what really matters when you’re in the fast-paced corporate world. It’s easy to get caught up in social media and justify spending so much time online to build your brand or nurture your audience.

This show makes it easy to realize that there’s so much more we can do.

Interestingly, Secret Millionaire started and bombed on Fox in 2008. Given it was an election year and the name Fox is not usually associated with hope, we can all understand why the show didn’t thrive.

I’m hoping the show finds a home on ABC because we all could use a shift to more positive news. And we can probably all use a little motivation to get out and help others—even if we think we have nothing to give.

So tune in, and see what you think. And then vow to spend a little less time online and a little more time giving.

You might be wondering what this all has to do with advertising and brand. Well, the lesson is this: When you give people hope, they remember that—for a very long time.


On the subject of hope, the Ad Council regularly shares its public awareness campaigns. They’re usually quite good. See for yourself and sign up for their e-mail list.


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