Pro bono PR increases awareness of Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation

Established in 2009, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation is in the midst of raising €120 million to preserve the Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945).

Client: Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation (Warsaw, Poland)
Agency: Edelman (Poland, US, and UK)
Campaign: Intervene Now!
Duration: January 27–ongoing

Established in 2009, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation is in the midst of raising €120 million to preserve the Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945). In early 2010, Jacek Kastelaniec, the foundation's director, asked Edelman to develop a campaign to garner support for the project, increase awareness of the foundation, and initiate dialogue with young people about preventing hatred and intolerance. 

Strategy
Intervene Now! calls for people to join the foundation and take a pledge on its Facebook page. They're encouraged to share the pledge, along with artwork and literature created by victims and survivors.

“The pledge allows people to make a personal commitment and share it with others,” says Barbara Kwiecen, GM of Edelman Poland. “Sharing artwork and diary entries humanized the need to keep not only the physical evidence of the camps intact, but also the memories of those who perished.”

Media relations, pro bono ad placement, and a launch event also drove awareness.

Tactics
The campaign launched January 27 at an event hosted at the former camp honoring the 66th anniversary of its liberation. Media attended and the presidents of Poland and Germany spoke, as did several Auschwitz survivors. A former prisoner was the first to sign the pledge.

The Facebook page, which launched January 26, also includes a PayPal mechanism for donations, posters, and educational materials. Campaign information and a donation function were also placed on the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum's website.

Top-tier print media and key bloggers were targeted in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Poland, Spain, the UK, and the US. Kastelaniec served as lead spokesperson, and messaging focused on the need to preserve the site. Holocaust survivors also spoke to media.

Pro bono ads were developed and pitched to publications in Poland, Brazil, Israel, and France.

Results
More than 100 guests attended the event. Since then, Kastelaniec says pledges exceeding $100,000 have come in (a total of €80 million has been raised since the endowment was created almost two years ago).

Edelman reports more than 1,000 Facebook “likes” within 24 hours of launch. As of February 25, the Facebook page had 5,611 monthly active users and 2,160 “likes.”

More than 400 stories have run in outlets including AP, Agence France Presse, BusinessWeek, the Boston Globe, CBS News, FOX News, HuffingtonPost.com, and Tonic.com. Ten advertorials were also placed.

Kastelaniec is “very pleased,” noting worldwide engagement surpassed expectations.

Future
The team will continue the campaign around a series of milestones, including the March of the Living beginning in April. Goals include launching a Twitter presence and continuing to drive Facebook engagement.

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