Client: Kinko's and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
PR Team: Edelman
Campaign: Put a Face with a Name
Time Frame: Mid-September - December 31, 2001
Budget: Less than $200,000
In 1998, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund created the Virtual Wall, a
website where friends and relatives of those killed in Vietnam can post
pictures and anecdotes of their loved ones whose names are found on the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, not everyone
has the computer equipment or web access to contribute. So in 2001,
Kinko's seized an opportunity to promote the Virtual Wall
(www.TheVirtualWall.org), and drive customers to its stores.
The idea was to allow anyone the chance to participate by using Kinko's
computers, scanners, and software - free of charge - from September 12
through Veteran's Day 2001. The realities of September 11 would alter
these plans somewhat, but they wouldn't stop what many considered to be
a poignant, important campaign.
Edelman, agency of record for Kinko's, needed to wage a two-prong
campaign: getting press for the promotion, and getting families to the
stores. The agency wanted to find key spokespeople to get the word out -
specifically Vietnam veterans, members of Congress, and families of
soldiers killed in combat - and get them on TV at a high-profile
Kinko's 20,000 nationwide employees would also play a major role in
driving the campaign at a grassroots level, and Congressional support
was considered critical.
The national kickoff was scheduled for September 12, 2001 on the steps
of the Capitol. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chair of the Senate
Veterans Affairs Committee, and deputy secretary of defense Paul
Wolfowitz were scheduled to speak. Unfortunately, when terrorists
attacked the US on September 11, the idea of a press conference on the
steps of Congress - much less a major media campaign - was no longer
The promotion itself went on uninterrupted, but the team instead decided
to do a soft launch with the press. Media alerts had been sent out prior
to September 11, and follow-ups on those were done in October. In
addition, the campaign was extended to December 31 to make up for lost
Many of the original tactics were carried out uninhibited. Tool kits
were sent to all Kinko's employees instructing them not only how to
facilitate in-store participants, but how to contact local press and
government officials to encourage them to push the promotion in some
way. Direct mail was also sent to the offices of every Congress member,
as well as to key members of the Bush administration.
As for the Virtual Wall itself, total unique web visits more than
doubled during the campaign period, and average weekly postings tripled.
Overall, the number of photos posted to the Wall has nearly doubled
since the campaign began.
Other successes came in many forms. Tony Knowles, governor of Alaska,
declared September "Put a Face with a Name Month" in his state, prompted
by a plea from a Kinko's employee. The lieutenant governor of
California, Cruz Bustamante, got involved as well, encouraging
participation through special events and letters.
Despite the near-saturation of terrorist- and war-related items in the
media, the campaign managed to garner impressive coverage. Edelman
counted 56 million media impressions, including articles in USA Today,
Parade, and The Washington Post.
Disappointments came largely in the area of forced cancellations,
notably an exclusive on NBC's Today show scheduled for
The Virtual Wall is entering its fourth year online, and organizers hope
to continue seeing increased traffic as a result of the campaign, though
Kinko's has no current plans to repeat "Put a Face with a Name."