Soul & Science
Soul & Science

Season 1, Episode · 5 months ago

S1 Episode 5: Comic Relief CEO Alison Moore | Marketing a Mission

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Comic Relief CEO Alison Moore joins Jason this week to discuss how she moved from a profession to a purpose, how she effectively markets a mission, and how Comic Relief is using entertainment to make positive change in the world.

Alison Moore is a media and tech industry veteran who is bridging the worlds of entertainment, social change, storytelling, and fundraising to break the cycles that perpetuate intergenerational poverty. Alison joined Comic Relief US in 2019 to build upon the organization’s ambitious mission to drive positive change through entertainment. Under Alison’s leadership, Comic Relief US is leveraging its unique blend of humor and entertainment to address complex and entrenched social and economic issues. Since 2015, Comic Relief US has partnered closely with Walgreens, NBC, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on its year-round Red Nose Day campaign to end child poverty. In the past 7 years Red Nose Day has raised over $275 million and positively impacted over 30 million children in the U.S. and around the world.

Brought to you by Mekanism

I always wondered if marketing lives in the heart or in the head. Should you trust your instinct or your integers? Often the answers both, but should you lead with one more than the other? So bring your heart and your head and join us in the conversation. I am honored today to be joined by my good friend and client, Alison more, CEO of comic relief us. Alison Moore is a media and tech industry veteran WHO's bridging the worlds of entertainment, social change, storytelling and fundraising to break the cycles that perpetuate intergenerational poverty. Alison joined comic relief us in two thousand and nineteen to build upon the organization's ambitious mission to drive positive change through entertainment. Under her leadership, comic relief us is leveraging its unique blend of humor and entertainment to address complex and entrenched social and economic issues. Since two thousand and fifteen, comic relief us has partnered closely with Wall Greens, NBC in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on its year round Red Nose Day campaign to end child poverty. In the past seven years, red Noos Day has raised over two hundred seventy five million dollars and has positively impacted over thirty million children. We start each episode with the theme. Today's theme was really from brand building into purpose building. Thanks for joining me, Allison. What we didn't what we're going to get into at the beginning, which wasn't in your bio. We'd like an alison more origin story. Were you a born marketer or did you fall into marketing like a lot of misfits? First of all, thank you for having me. It's such a pleasure to sit and have a chat with you always, but particularly today in this topic should be super interesting. I I was not a born marketer. You know, you see all these sort of young uns now today and I totally and many ways I respect it, which is, you know, they're like in the marketing club in high school and then they go to college and they're on the marketing track and then they're getting all the business into that other and then they, you know, they have a brand minor track or whatever. That was not me. I, you know, did I go went to college and did some a few a few different things, one of which was I was an art major for a couple of years and then I was. I ended up with a poly side degree and came out wanting to go to work on the hill and kind of recognized, really too late for somebody that really wanted to do this, that all my contacts were Republicans based on family contacts. And when I sort of put that together and understood really what you did when you were kind of grunt work on the hill, I was like I just don't know what I could actually do that and I slept on a friend's couch and found a Gig at Turner the a...

...friend or a friend and that at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta, and that really became my on ramp to what was media and marketing and all the things that we sort of do today, but I really had no idea about that prior to coming to it. And then you you've worked at Conde Nass, you've worked at Hbo Daily Candy and BC Universal, so you sort of had a lot of entertainment and media sort of your background, right. Would you say? Yeah, I would. I mean, you know the connective tissue to me between all those places, right, HBO, Particularly Hbo Daily Candy. I was at soundcloud and it was the intention actually first for conny NAST, although it was in the reality was that I loved being in I love being on the business side, of the operational side to support what I think is a purpose driven initiative. I'm frankly all four of those areas the purposes around content creators and makers and people who create things. You know, so when you're at HBO, I don't care what you do at Hbo, you all know that you're there to support the show runners and the content creators and it's really there to kind of elevate that work by whatever it is that you contribute to it. You know, with Gailey Candy as my editors, and MC universal is certainly that same idea. But my role on TV everywhere was a little bit different there. But when I got to Soundcloud, it was around emerging artists. I mean everything you do it soundcloud, no matter what part you support, is is. That's your sort of that's your North Star, and so to me that was purpose driven. It certainly was not to the scale and the sort of context that I'm in now at this role, but it felt I feel like if I'm going to be doing the work, a piece of work or kind of growing or building something it really needs to. I need to feel like I'm doing it on behalf of something that feels worthy in that way to me, and then I landing in this role and it's the ultimate point of purpose. Absolutely. And how how would you summarize or explain for people listening ret what Red Noseday is like? You know there's comic relief, the organization, and there's Red Noseday and then I know maybe in the future they'll be more things like red noseday, but can you kind of give us like a cliff no version of comic relief and Red Nosday for the listeners? Comic relief is our organization, that in which we are. Our goal is is to is delivered to the power of entertainment to for our our mission to the just world, Frie from poverty, and so we do that through a series of different activations, the largest of which is red nose day. So red nose days the campaign that we run every year. We have in the last six years here in the US and we raised over two hundred and seventy five million dollars to ee children and it's a child focused campaign and...

...fund safe, healthy, educated and empowered and what that means is that we activate in in the spaces where, I would say, we turn consumers into donors, and a brief moment where we can educate, communicate and talk about our work and talk about that through this really weirdo device of a red nose and think about that to kind of grab attention. Have a moment to think about something outside of oneself, whether you're standing at a wall Greens, you're watching MBC, you're, you know, looking at twitch, you're looking at youtube, you're doing something on on instagram or ticktock. You have a moment to think about our mission. We've had a way to kind of communicate that. And then there's a time to donate. So during Red Noos Day, runs three hundred sixty five days a year, you can go to Rednos Day dot organ donate right now. But we do this Mein kind of like campaign drive in April and may where we kick off in the wall green stores and top of April and then it culminates into what is an official Red Noos Day at the end of May. With those dollars. We use those dollars and our grant making team has identified over twenty eight grantees that are aligned with the mission of our work again against the safe, healthy, educating in power side. So these are large organizations like Save the Children, Covenant House, Boys and Girls Club of America, to smaller organizations like Permundo and echo and green and the Malala Fund that we fund. And this is a fifty split of those dollars between the US and abroad. And you know, we kind of we sort of keep the accountability of those dollars in partnership with our grantee partners to ensure that the dollars are going to the places that are most sort of moving the needle in the areas of concern. And you think about innergenerational poverty and the the systemic issues that have that have really driven folks to stay within a context of cyclical poverty generation after generation. How do we get to those sort of programs and those that work and support community level and otherwise to interrupt those cycles of poverty and sort of start at the not that the root causes of it and and work against that in addition to what are those sort of consequences of poverty? So that I think rednose day as children, I think of other initiatives that we will be taking on to be child centered, but really thinking about an inner generational lens on that as well. Yeah, that's all. It's amazing to hear you talk about the other problems you're trying to solve, because they're all critical and seemingly impossible to solve, but you guys are taking them on and understanding them and making a debt and making a real difference. And when you think about opening the aperture and how comic relief in...

...the US right now is Red Nosday, but then you'll add or relief and you'll keep adding other really problems, your problems you're trying to solve. The idea that you can reach more people and make an impact, you can talk to more companies and brands because you're going to attack really challenging, large problems that we face in the US and there's going to be many companies aligned as you add more things that you're accomplishing and attacking that are aligned with the thing that you're trying to solve. And so it opens up the fundraising aperture much larger, because it's not just ending child poverty. That's one thing, but then you can add on and add on, and then the fundraising possibilities are much greater. Is that how you sort of look at it? Yeah, and you know, I think one of the things that's been been a real challenge for me is to understand that my ability to scale is highly dependent on others scale, you know, when. And so I need, I desperately need, to be able to partner with brands that have that scale, that have that level of engagement with their consumers, that that are looking for that kind of authentic dialog with their consumers about purpose and motivating people to act and having it a crew back to their brand. I need to find those like minded brands that can commit to the scale, on the level of engagement require to have that relationship with the consumer. You know. I mean this is the big change has been happening right and I think it's it's exciting to see that there are CMOS and brand operators now who are like, it's not enough to just say hey, with every purchase we donate x, because that's easy. What what's the sort of brand value that you're bringing into this conversation with your consumer? What are the things that you're standing for? What's the long term sort of support you're going to be able to give as a brand, utilizing the sort of parts and minds of your consumers interest and really coclaim moving the needle together, because it's real. You're really invested in the work, not just the dollar amount. There's all these studies that consumers don't really care about too many brands. They be have. If a brand went away tomorrow and a new brand solve their same problem, they wouldn't really mind. But something like fifty three percent of consumers will spend money and be brand loyal if the brand aligns with values, if it has something beyond just selling products and services and creating shareholder wealth. To be a brand that is successful and has longevity, you have to have values and then show that you're living your values and doing something beyond. We're giving away a products right like beyond that. The timing is amazing because you're in the Zeitgeist of culture with what you're doing now. On the flip side, because it's catching up. There's so many...

...purpose driven things to donate to and to raise for because it's in. It's in the mainstream of culture now. So like the competitions more, but the culture is there and you can connect with you know, raising money and built and working with brands. So I don't know if the I guess the question is, how do you how do you feel about about that in your place in that in that culture, based on what we do, I think we occupy a really unique space to kind of come in and partner with brands are looking to do something and produce something differentiated in terms of an experience for you know, the ways to engage, be it entertainment driven, be a digital driven, and it kind of Co create something and do that, and that I think about us as being so creatively led. On one end, that do. We have this real spirit of CO creation which is very interesting and, I think, very unique and different from others in the space. That said, we also have the goods to back it up in terms of what's where those dollars go. Are really rooted in the right kind of work with a thesis behind it, with the part right kind of partnerships with our grantee partners just really make in roads along what we're saying we're going to do, because there's many companies that can say we were purpose driven, but when you follow this sort of investment dollars, it's it's up and down, you know, and I think that's an opportunity. I think about your career. As you know, you went from a place of spending a budget to raising a budget. Yeah, that's different. Yeah, and never having to think, you know, maybe fighting for dollars versus other, you know, shows or areas of spending. Certainly that was the case, but there were dollars there and you had to figure out the most efficient and smart way to spend it. Now you have to like each year you're sort of starting at the bottom of the hill trying to raise the budget. and has that? Has that changed your way of thinking? What do you think? It's similar to. You know, all right, we're going to raise this much money, and that's been like how is that change the way you you handle, you know, your job. Yeah, well, let's see, that's been a material thing that could change against and you know, it's two things. The first thing, it's very similar to being in a start up. I would say. Well, you've got a finite amount of funds and you know you're you're either benchmarked on your sort of angel funds or your you know, a round be round and you've got kind of what is a line of site to funding. But, and this is when they others. My favorite term pre revenue. Right, when Organization of pre revenue. We are not free revenue, but it's that same sort of boundaries, like strict boundaries, because when we raise you know, for every hundred dollars we raised, we give eighty five to eighty percent away for programs and then retain some of small amount for really operating dollars. And you know they're operating doll is. It a year to...

...year operating dollars. And then there is what is, you know, you're operating cash flow or your sort of net asset level. That just is maintains it a health for the company. In the event that something catastrophic happens to you, can, you know, keep everything rolling right, and we've been very smart and healthy about that and I think it's ever, that's just, you know, running a good, solid organization. The limitations come to your point when you want to scale ideas and do things that are out of box, that you need proof of concept that you you know, you you feel like you could. If this is terrible because it's so cliche, but if I build it, I think that there will be momentum underneath this. Right. I don't have those kind of scale dollars readily within the context of how we operate, and that's why we launched just, you know, at the end of the last year, and I'm really excited about this growth and Innovation Fund where, you know, we're hoping to raise ten million dollars over the next three years. That will really help us, you know, incubating new ideas bring the really ones that are successful to scale right so whether it's a sport relief or another comic relief event or something like a kids relief where we can activate just kids in the in their parents and something kind of cool and fun and engaging. But those dollars will also allow me to build my grants team so that I can expand the kinds of programs that I support. You know, we're deeply committed to, you know, to growing new folks do, growing new seats at the table for community let organizations, because we think that's the right thing to do to actually see the change that we want to see around intergenerational poverty and some of the deep innovative work that those groups are doing. But that takes an entire different amount of administrative support than what we've had in the past, when you just have big organizations to support that have their own infrastructure. That requires you to hold more so all the things that allow us to scale, be it around the campaign zygeist consumer side, or the programs, the diversification of those programs. You know, how deep can we go around safety and rootlessness and child trafficking to support those programs? It's all it takes cash, and so learning how to do that within the nonprofit sector has been a lesson. How, when you think about soul in science, do you rely more on creative ideas or business ideas in your gut, or do you rely more on data for where you're going to pivot and move the business? Do you see? Obviously we all know they're both important. That's the name of this podcast, balancing both. But as a as a leader, as a CEO, and you've done a lot in your career, how do you what do you think about how those two things work together and kind of where you lean? You know one or the other, or maybe you try to balance. How do you look at those two things? My...

...tendency is to lead by gut and intuition, and I would say that's, you know, heart, but a lot of the gut intuition I have comes from absorbing data beforehand. You know what I mean. I read a ton, you know, things that are happening, trends and that kind of thing, and sometimes it's that sort of ephemeral data that actually starts to influence your gut. That's the path, usually a core gut connection or thought thought around something that feels intuitive and then sort of like checking the intuition, intuition through data as much as you can and then making a decision to go. It's almost like knowledge based, heart led, because you're you're doing this, you've got this information, you're absorbing, absorbing, absorbing, and then sort of your let your gut drive your decision, but it's informed. One's ability to be declarative of a certain thing at any given time is always needs to be a little bit softened by the fact that it's the space is just moving at the speed of light, and so gather the information. You can't sit on that forever. You've got to think of something, you've got to you've got to motivate by a gut, by heart, and then double check your work. Definitely we're doing some alice and more questions now and then we'll wrap it up. Do you have a role model in your life that impacted you personally or your career? Okay, I have to answer to that. The first one my father will, Oh, is be he passed away in two thousand and eighteen, but sadly, but he you know, he would if he was sitting here, he'd be like role model. I wouldn't he would we do? You know, I would not say role model in that kind of classic sense of the world, but he worried it. But he was a touchtone for me, you know, in business particularly, and we would sit together and you know, at particularly as a woman and a girl being raised by a father who was like the expectation was you're going to go out and kind of like make sure happen. Do you know what I mean? It was never like there was no conditional thing. Well, you should or think about or whatever. It was like what he got. What are we talking about today? And I am grateful and thankful for that. And then the rest of it is like, I don't how. You know, I feel like I've got a compositive people in my kitchen cabinet. You know what I mean? That I feel like, wow, these are people that I look too and I'm like you know, I sort of anchor myself too. So whether it's Courtney Monroe, my best pal and National Geographic or lies a landsman and Anya or you know, I have got a whole group of friends and women, particularly at HBO, Every Place I've been, some folks that sound cloud, you know, Holly Sonia, Dawan Wilson. I mean there are just people that I feel like are in my chorus, that I keep myself accountable to because they're just great at what they do, you know, and so I keep my eye open and make sure I'm keeping up with them.

It's a it's a it's a matrix of role models that make it. Is there a favorite quote or mantra or something that you think about? Yeah, that that really represents you. Okay, well, now I'm going to bring in my mother into this, because my mother, when I was young, and I can see this now that I have a daughter who's sixteen and like, comes in and it's very focus and I get like all the details of everything that's going on in the day. Right. So there's what happened. There's a little here's what I thought about this, but it's like barely a breath in between what it ends up being like a three hour soliloqally. I was exactly like that, even more for both if this, if anyone could imagine this, after this yourings me game or on the here and my mother used to say, oh my gosh, just you, just analyzing everything, everything, everything. She'd say, the unexamined life is not worth living. She said that is your mantra when I was a kid, and I was like fine, whatever, it is totally true. Mama was right and socrates that is I mean, I think that sums you up. Having know you, know you a little bit, I think that sums you up really perfectly. It's it's like interrogate everything, and I love that. You know and I in a good way and I think that that's great. Well, listen, you're alison more. You're amazing. Your whip smart, you kick ass, you're a great client, you're a soulful person. You're doing great things. You're going to do a lot more great things in the back nine. We can't wait to see it. Where can people listening find you and maybe donate money to to move everything you're trying to accomplish forward? Yes, yes, that's great. So we are at Red Noseday. DOTORG or Comic Relief Dot Org, and that is where you can kind of get a little download about our mission and you know what we do and some of the programs that we support and some of the children and the the families that we support and just kind of and participate in some of the fun that we light up around all of our issues. So please, yes, that would be great. Yes, please do listen and donate and see what's coming, because it's going to be a big year for comic relief. A lot of good stuff on the horizon. All Right, thanks for being on, Alison Mores. Going to be a great one. Thank you for having me. This is like such a great thing. I mean we can have stayed and shot it all day. Thanks so much for listening to soul in science and we'll see you next week. So in sciences, a mechanism podcast produced by the amazing Frank Riscool, Ryan till. It'son, Tyler Nielsen and the Swanson and Sopheam around, with the music by Kyle Mare. I'm your host, Jason Harris,...

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