Guide Dogs ‘First Blind Dates’ / Don’t Panic
Guide Dogs for the Blind this week released a new campaign, created with the help of agency Don’t Panic, to raise awareness of its Move It for Money initiative taking place during Guide Dogs Week, which runs from 7-15 October.
The charity has blended together two dating formats: First Dates, Channel Four’s popular show which sees couples meet for the first time at a London restaurant; and Blind Date, the iconic dating show originally presented by Cilla Black that has recently undergone a revival, which sees a person select a date from a series of hopefuls who are hidden behind a screen. It is through this mash-up that Guide Dogs has created its latest spot, ‘First Blind Dates’, which documents members of the blind community on dates with visually able counterparts. The visually impaired participants’ guide dogs also make an appearance on the dates to showcase the important role they play in helping them lead a ‘normal’ life.
By employing a popular and recognisable dating show format, the charity lends itself to a younger audience which it may not have previously tapped. The film is both entertaining and meaningful, truly helping people understand the difference guide dogs make to a blind person’s life. With 180,000 sight loss sufferers not leaving their home and faced with isolation and loneliness, the campaign serves to highlight the joy of interaction with others, even if those on dates in the film may not have found the love of their life. We also see the visually impaired impress their dates with how active and adventurous they are thanks to their dogs, with blind daters admitting they have been playing tennis, bowling, zip wiring and skiing, showing that they are just as, if not more, outdoorsy than their visually able counterparts.
The spot not only emphasises the importance of guide dogs but also educates the viewer on how a blind person experiences the world. For example, one blind dater explains how she was a fan of her date’s facial hair which she knew he had because she felt it brush her face as he kissed her on the cheek. Meanwhile, another blind dater really enjoys the taste of her food, reminding the viewer that the world is perceived through all of our senses and we are not only reliant on sight.
By including both fly-on-the-wall footage of the dates and head to camera interviews, the viewer is able to gain an insight into how the participants truly feel. Some agree to go on a second date while others seem to be more unsure – another example of how the spot supports the idea of guide dogs enabling sight loss sufferers to go through all the normal motions of a visually able person, including being fussy over their choice of suitor. This format also allows the viewer to become emotionally involved in the character’s stories. It is especially touching to hear them talk so fondly of their guide dogs and how, for them, it is just as important for their date to get along with their guide dog as it is to impress themselves.
The film ends with on screen text which implores the viewer to sign up for the Move It event. Move It for Money is Guide Dogs’ latest fundraising push which hopes to encourage people to get moving through activities such as walking, cycling or baking to raise money for the charity.
Joe Wade, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Don’t Panic said of the campaign: “We wanted to create a film that told real people’s stories in an inherently engaging and compelling way. By adopting the familiar dating show set up, we were able to create an authentic environment for people to open up and tell their stories first hand. These stories are honest and empowering, highlighting the positive impact Guide Dogs can bring to people’s lives.”