Client: Volunteers of America (Los Angeles)
PR Team: The Blaze Company (Venice, CA)
Campaign: A Community of Angels
Time Frame: September 2000 - May 2001
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.