CAMPAIGNS: Charity PR - Divine approach aids LA charities

Client: Volunteers of America (Los Angeles)

PR Team: The Blaze Company (Venice, CA)

Campaign: A Community of Angels

Time Frame: September 2000 - May 2001

Budget: $74,000

To raise needed funds for two major charities, Los Angeles artists

wanted to create a public art project around a theme appropriate to

their home city: angels, of course. Life-size fiberglass sculptures of

angels were then shipped to nearly 200 artists, and painted - or

otherwise adorned - for public display throughout the city for several

months to benefit Volunteers of America and Catholic Big Brothers.


For the campaign to be a success, local artists, corporate sponsors, and

other nonprofit groups had to be attracted to the project with an

aggressive media relations outreach and a series of special events.

The Blaze Company (TBC) stepped in, targeting the business community for

corporate sponsorships. It also helped local nonprofit organizations

understand how their involvement would help generate funds for their own



"As the project was highly visual," says Blaze account executive Julie

Grieve, "we regularly orchestrated press releases, media alerts, special

events, and photo opportunities to tell our story. We also created

human-interest stories through the use of project artists, sponsors,

Community of Angels spokespersons, and other participating nonprofit


To gain corporate sponsorships, TBC created a direct-mail piece with a

feather from an angel's wing, and sent it to several hundred corporate

entities, asking for their support.

The launch featured the unveiling of the first completed angel, created

by world-renowned artist Alexandra Nechita, and heralded in person by

then-Mayor Richard Riordan.

To continue the buzz, TBC created an artist-in-residence program that

placed artists in high-traffic locations to work on their angels - and

attract ink from community-based publications. A series of unveiling

events, synchronized to feature Hollywood celebrities, successfully

maintained media coverage. An Oscar angel even made it to the roof of

the Shrine Auditorium, generating international, national, and local

media coverage during the 55th annual Academy Awards telecast.

The final event was a gala auction of the angels, with media relations

efforts designed to elevate buyer interest.


The nine-month campaign was covered by every major print and broadcast

outlet in LA. Following a Los Angeles Times feature, the project's

website got more than 100,000 hits in a single day. The direct-mail

effort helped secure several major sponsors, including The Wilshire

Grand Hotel, the project's biggest supporter.

Once the campaign ended, the live auction of the first 50 angels raised

more than $750,000 for various charities and mentoring,

drug-abuse prevention, and tutoring programs, among others. The

remaining 150 angels went to eBay for online auction.


The Community of Angels producers and sponsors are considering repeating

the initiative in 2003.

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