HSBC and Wunderman Thompson create tap-enabled Poppy donation boxes

Who: HSBC and the Royal Canadian Legion, with Wunderman Thompson, technology provider Avrio Solutions, and media by Touché.

What: A Remembrance Day poppy campaign that includes cashless donation boxes designed for the unique circumstances created by Covid-19. It’s the second straight year the Legion has adopted an out-of-the-box approach to creating awareness of its annual poppy drive, following last year’s integration with the popular online game Fortnite.

When & Where: The campaign started rolling out today (Oct. 26) and will run through Nov. 11, with ads running across TV, social and newspaper. The 250 special “contactless” poppy donation boxes will be in every HSBC branch across the country, as well as select government and retail locations.

Why: Poppy donations are an important source of funds for the Royal Canadian Legion. Last year, it started talking with Wunderman Thompson about creating a more modern version of its donation boxes as fewer and fewer people carry cash and rely on cards and mobile commerce, said Wunderman Thompson’s executive creative director, Ari Elkouby.

One problem with a cashless poppy donation system was that the new technology-enabled boxes would be considerably more expensive than the traditional boxes, so Wunderman Thompson approached its client HSBC. “They were absolutely all over it,” said Elkouby.

The vision for the boxes changed when the pandemic hit. “It started around creating a more frictionless experience,” said Elkouby. “And then it started to evolve in terms of how the box looks, the design, and how it functions.” Importantly, the boxes needed to accept donations unattended, so there would be less need for Legion members or volunteers to interact with strangers at a time when social distancing is critically important.

How: Working with Avrio, the agency developed made-in-Canada boxes featuring durable weather-resistant materials that would allow them to be used for years. An illuminated poppy with a glowing white outline shows people where to tap, while also capturing the attention of nearby people. The new boxes accept all tap-enabled payment cards and mobile payment options for a predetermined $2 donation—a set donation means no need for buttons or screen touching to input a donation amount.

“HSBC could have put out an ad and said ‘We think it’s really important that people buy Poppies,'” said Elkouby. But effective marketing today is about customer experiences and looking for ways to deliver better branded experiences, which is what the boxes are. “You can either say something, or do something that says something,” said Elkouby.

And we quote: “The new boxes are completely cashless—a significant advancement in response to a society that is carrying less pocket change and includes the added security of donations being deposited into the Legion’s bank account immediately” — Cindy Wong, HSBC’s regional head of marketing, North America.

David Brown