Widmeyer retained for national Pool Safety campaign

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has awarded Widmeyer Communications, a Finn Partners Company, a nearly $1 million contract to continue its work on the national Pool Safely program.

WASHINGTON: The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has awarded Widmeyer Communications, a Finn Partners Company, a nearly $1 million contract to continue its work on the national Pool Safely program.

Widmeyer helped to launch the national public-education campaign five years ago, and it was recently awarded a one-year extension worth $979,589, a 62% increase from the previous contract, according to a statement from the firm. Work on the account will run through May 2015.

A new element of the campaign launched Wednesday. The Pool Safely pledge is a "national call to action" for parents and children to take specific steps to stay safe around pools throughout the year, said Jim Luetkemeyer, partner for public affairs at Widmeyer.

The YMCA has agreed to distribute the pledge at its locations and through social media channels, he added. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has also offered complimentary placement of PSAs on trains and buses, Luetkemeyer confirmed.

Scott Wolfson, communications director for the Commission, said ads could soon be placed in other cities in Texas, Florida, and California.

The campaign is teaching adults and children how to be safe in and around pools and spas by supervising children, teaching people how to swim, learning CPR, and installing proper fencing. On average, 390 children under age 15 drown in pools and spas each year.  

Outreach tactics include radio, TV, and out-of-home PSAs, as well as earned media, the coordination of nearly 900 third-party partners, events, social media, website development, and monitoring and tracking of results, the firm said.

Widmeyer is also expanding the PSA push to include Spanish-language TV, said Luetkemeyer. A Spanish-language team was developed internally at Widmeyer, which is working with Finn Partners’ multicultural practice to reach the Hispanic and black communities.

While the "bulk" of the work will take place this summer, Luetkemeyer said "a significant portion" will happen after the season is over to highlight how drowning remains a concern through the fall.

Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Katie Ledecky is a celebrity spokesperson for the campaign, serving as an "inspiration to young people," said Luetkemeyer.

Partners include groups such as the Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation, among other organizations started by parents who lost a child to drowning, said Wolfson, who added that they need "consistent and unified messaging" to decrease what are "just terrible fatality numbers."

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