"We found a gap between what scientists were saying and the general public, who wasn't even alarmed at all," Abrams says. "How do you get people aware?"
Abrams teamed with Jasculca/Terman and Associates (JT) to launch a campaign that used local artwork of globes to focus on and provide simple, everyday solutions to the community and a message that they could connect to.
"We wanted the campaign to be focused on solutions, a positive message," Abrams says. "It's usually... in negative terms and people are overwhelmed. If we put something on the sidewalk, then you have to stop and confront this issue. The symbolism here is that the solutions are right in front of you."
JT stepped in with the idea to include the community in the project. The PR team involved media outlets and local artists, as well as nonprofit organizations and corporations to sponsor.
Abrams and JT planned a June 1 kick-off event at Lake Chicago. "We knew if there was a lot of excitement, then people would put it on their summer to-do list," says Holly Bartecki, SVP of creative and strategic development at JT.
To generate buzz around the project, JT did sneak previews and photo ops of development as artists worked on the globes. The company additionally planned a celebrity-designed mini-globes exhibit, a silent auction, and a business roundtable.
A Web site was also established, where citizens could pledge how they would help global warming.
The company used a press conference for the kick-off, where it unveiled eight of the 125 globes, as a way to gain exposure. It also invited local schools, corporations, and nonprofits to the event. But the team wanted a way to get the schools more involved.
"We [created] two pieces that targeted kids - lesson plans so teachers had some tools to teach the children," Bartecki explains. "Also, [we had] a kid's contest, [designing] mini- globes [for the] children's museum in Chicago. It was a nonprofit event, and money raised went to environmental education."
The campaign raised $2.5 million from sponsor contributions, and $2.5 million from in-kind donations to help continue the campaign and spread awareness.
The silent auction raised $500,000, which will fund environmental education programs at Chicago public schools.
Coverage of the event included more than 400 print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including all Chicago print and broadcast outlets and more than 80 regional outlets in the US and Canada. In addition, it was featured on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, and was nominated for a 2007 Chicago Innovation Award as one of the "250 most innovative projects of the year."
Its Web site garnered more than 5,000 online pledges. Corporate sponsors also pledged to expand efforts to reduce environmental impact.
"I think [JT] hit a homerun, out of the park," Abrams adds.
The effort continues to grow, with Cool Globes campaigns in Washington, DC in May, San Francisco in October, and London in 2009.
"We think being in DC is really smart and savvy because this is where all the policy decisions are made," Bartecki adds. "We think that just the presence will generate excitement."
PR team: Cool Globes, Jasculca/Terman and Associates (both Chicago)
Campaign: Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet
Duration: June 1 - ongoing
This campaign is able to take a subject that is talked about so often and make it into something fresh and inspiring.
The PR team knew the subject had to be handled carefully, and was able to come up with accessible takes to global warming. Instead of showing harsh photos or overwhelming statistics, JT and Cool Globes gave the community simple solutions that each could use to help.
By using these subtle tactics, the two teams were able to create a campaign that has enough steam to continue throughout this year and into the next.
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