WASHINGTON: With a new message and a new marketing challenge, the American Red Cross this week is launching an effort to remind the public about its everyday role in the community.
The "Help America" campaign will center on a series of PSAs designed to solicit financial donations and recruit new volunteers to the nonprofit organization.
The campaign also will address misperceptions about the Red Cross, clarifying that it is not a government organization and that its role extends beyond disaster relief.
"The challenge has been to articulate to the American public why the American Red Cross is deserving of their support," says Charles Connor, SVP of communication and marketing at the Red Cross.
In addition to the PSAs, the integrated campaign also includes a new corporate message.
For the past two years, the Red Cross has stressed the message of preparedness. However, that message didn't convey the other ways that the organization is active in local communities, from first aid and CPR instruction to lifeguard training and blood drives.
"We saw that our corporate message had to be bigger than preparedness," Connor said. "The message is when you help the American Red Cross, you help America. We intend to weave that theme into everything we do."
Research has shown that the campaign's target audience - 25- to 45-year-olds - is familiar with and respects the Red Cross, according to campaign material.
But in order for members of this demographic to donate money to and become involved with a group, they have to believe that the organization touches them personally.
The campaign also responds to the post-election perception that America is divided and makes working together and helping one another a common theme throughout.
The Red Cross launched the campaign with a media event in New York City on March 3.
Actress Julianna Margulies, a volunteer with the Red Cross' National Celebrity Cabinet, will narrate the broadcast spots. Songwriter Aimee Mann contributed an instrumental version of "Wise Up," a song from the Magnolia soundtrack.
The Red Cross launched the "Together We Prepare" campaign in March 2003, addressing both terrorism fears and natural disasters.
The PR elements of the current campaign are being handled in-house.