Blue Peter Appeal 2010 – 22 September 2010

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On Monday, the BBC Children’s programme Blue Peter, launched their annual Christmas appeal. This year’s appeal is in association with Whizz-kids, a charity which aim “to ensure that every disabled child has an opportunity to be something special…a kid.” A great charity, clearly, but I don’t think that this 49th appeal will be quite as bountiful as previous years.

Blue Peter has always been famous for encouraging viewers not for money directly, but for unwanted items which can be recycled and sold, with that money going to charity. In the early 00’s though, Blue Peter was noticed to be more frequently opting for ‘Bring and Buy Sales’ (introduced in 1979) than traditional collection methods.

Undeniably, the revenue made from Bring and Buy Sales was far greater than any funds raised by the selling of recyclable materials; but it wasn’t quite the same for the children.

The new appeal asks viewers to design Christmas cards to be sold, which sounds initially like a good idea. However, further reading discovers that there is an enormous overhead cost related to the appeal.

Firstly, for obvious reasons, viewers can’t just make their design on any old bit of folded paper; they have to apply for a pack. Included in the pack are four cards, a foam Christmas tree, and a postage-paid envelope for you to submit the cards. This pack is free to apply for, with the cost (I presume) initially being footed by the Beeb. While ‘packs’ have been offered in previous years, they haven’t included the sort of thing that you could use for anything else – for example, Bring and Buy packs have had a poster and some price-labels in them, but this year, children could use the cards for their own purposes at Christmas.

Secondly, “to celebrate” the launching of the appeal (I do hate that phrase in that context…), execs decided to cover the Blue Peter garden in snow. This will have cost a fair amount in itself, and I don’t think that it was worth it for the 25-minute broadcast (of which much was simply pre-recorded VTs).

Thirdly, the cards are to be sold in Tesco stores across the country. The fact that the BBC have a commercial partner isn’t all that much of a surprise – they’ve been doing it for years in their various programmes’ appeals. But, towards the dénouement, one of the presenters displayed a card which one of the children had made during the show. It was dreadful. Literally abominable. It’s nice to think that you’d be brave enough to send someone a card in aid of charity however good it is, but would you really? Are you sure they’d understand the significance of it? Although some people will buy them, will everyone? I’m not sure I’d be overjoyed with a pile of glitter on Christmas Eve….

Maybe I’m just being cynical, and it will go on to be incredibly successful. But somehow, right now, I just can’t see that happening. Don’t get me wrong, I’m often a supporter of how the BBC is spending your licence-fee. There’s some amazing stuff that it does; its news and sport journalism, large-events coverage, website, programming, and radio output. But is this really the best use of money? We’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out.

Post Script:

The reason that the appeal has been launched so early (compared to November starts in past appeals) is because they must have all of the cards back by 18 October 2010. This will allow them to package them and redistribute them to shops in time for Christmas trading.

External:

Blue Peter Go Cardz Appeal – Official website
Blue Peter Go Cardz Appeal – Order a free pack

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a 21-year-old from Maidenhead in Berkshire. He is now two-thirds of the way through his Journalism Studies degree at the University of Sheffield. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, going to the theatre, and writing about himself in the third-person.