Client: The Lee Company
PR Team: Barkley Evergreen & Partners (Kansas City, MO)
Campaign: Lee National Denim Day
Time Frame: January - October 2001
Barkley Evergreen had worked with Lee since 1996 to gain attention for
Lee National Denim Day, a major cancer research fundraising event.
But the September 11 terrorist attacks left Barkley and Lee asking if
this year's Denim Day, scheduled for October 5, should even be held.
Groundwork had been laid for the event starting early in 2001.
The decision was made to go on with the event because of its importance
to breast cancer research. "We decided it doesn't matter if we raise
only $1 million, $5 million, or $7 million," says
Kathy Collins, VP of marketing at Lee. "Let's give it everything we've
In its first five years, Lee Denim Day had raised $24 million for
the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The fundraising goal for
2001 was $7.5 million. "It's a mistake to allow September 11 to
keep us from moving forward on other causes," says Mike Swenson, Barkley
With news of the tragedies dominating the media, Barkley's team quickly
realized it would not be able to garner the amount of media attention
Denim Day had received in past years, particularly in New York.
"Obviously, we know we're not going to New York and doing a lot of
Anything that has to do with media in New York, that's where you have to
be the most sensitive now," says Swenson.
Media calls were scaled back, and attention was focused on reaching
companies that might agree to allow their employees to take part in
Denim Day. Participating companies allow their employees to wear jeans
to work on Denim Day in return for a $5-per-employee contribution
to cancer research.
The campaign's key target audiences were large and small companies, and
schools. Primarily, the campaign was aimed at men and women 25 to
A toll-free hotline and website were established to provide information
and registration material for the event. Rather than emphasize media
exposure, a direct-mail campaign was used to encourage companies to
participate in the event. Actress Lucy Liu was chosen as celebrity
spokesperson, and she garnered appearances on CNN Headline News,
Entertainment Tonight, and Access Hollywood.
Media efforts began June 1 with the official campaign kickoff, and the
announcement of Liu as spokesperson. Media efforts concentrated on
women's publications, fashion trades, and major dailies around the
A national radio tour was also held, and Liu was featured in a PSA. This
year, a satellite media tour was held instead of flying the
spokesperson, Liu, to Lee's Kansas City, MO headquarters for a press
Despite scaling back, media relations efforts generated 100 million
impressions, exceeding the objective of the campaign by 80 million
impressions. Broadcast coverage that included interviews with Liu, and
local market coverage on the day of the event reached almost 42 million
people. A radio interview tour in the top 20 markets and national radio
coverage reached 11.4 million people.
Fundraising for the event is expected to exceed the $7.5 million
goal once all receipts are tallied. Lee calls the event the largest
one-day fundraiser for breast cancer research ever, with the five-year
total of funds raised now more than $31 million. Out-reach
efforts to companies led to participation by 19,460 businesses and
organizations, exceeding the campaign goal of 18,000.
Lee plans to continue with National Denim Day next year. The company
believes consumers are likely to identify positively with an
organization associated with a good cause.