CAMPAIGN: Public Awareness - Lee proceeds with Denim Day in style

Client: The Lee Company

PR Team: Barkley Evergreen & Partners (Kansas City, MO)

Campaign: Lee National Denim Day

Time Frame: January - October 2001

Budget: $550,000

Barkley Evergreen had worked with Lee since 1996 to gain attention for

Lee National Denim Day, a major cancer research fundraising event.

But the September 11 terrorist attacks left Barkley and Lee asking if

this year's Denim Day, scheduled for October 5, should even be held.

Groundwork had been laid for the event starting early in 2001.

The decision was made to go on with the event because of its importance

to breast cancer research. "We decided it doesn't matter if we raise

only $1 million, $5 million, or $7 million," says

Kathy Collins, VP of marketing at Lee. "Let's give it everything we've


In its first five years, Lee Denim Day had raised $24 million for

the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The fundraising goal for

2001 was $7.5 million. "It's a mistake to allow September 11 to

keep us from moving forward on other causes," says Mike Swenson, Barkley



With news of the tragedies dominating the media, Barkley's team quickly

realized it would not be able to garner the amount of media attention

Denim Day had received in past years, particularly in New York.

"Obviously, we know we're not going to New York and doing a lot of

interviews there.

Anything that has to do with media in New York, that's where you have to

be the most sensitive now," says Swenson.

Media calls were scaled back, and attention was focused on reaching

companies that might agree to allow their employees to take part in

Denim Day. Participating companies allow their employees to wear jeans

to work on Denim Day in return for a $5-per-employee contribution

to cancer research.

The campaign's key target audiences were large and small companies, and

schools. Primarily, the campaign was aimed at men and women 25 to



A toll-free hotline and website were established to provide information

and registration material for the event. Rather than emphasize media

exposure, a direct-mail campaign was used to encourage companies to

participate in the event. Actress Lucy Liu was chosen as celebrity

spokesperson, and she garnered appearances on CNN Headline News,

Entertainment Tonight, and Access Hollywood.

Media efforts began June 1 with the official campaign kickoff, and the

announcement of Liu as spokesperson. Media efforts concentrated on

women's publications, fashion trades, and major dailies around the


A national radio tour was also held, and Liu was featured in a PSA. This

year, a satellite media tour was held instead of flying the

spokesperson, Liu, to Lee's Kansas City, MO headquarters for a press



Despite scaling back, media relations efforts generated 100 million

impressions, exceeding the objective of the campaign by 80 million

impressions. Broadcast coverage that included interviews with Liu, and

local market coverage on the day of the event reached almost 42 million

people. A radio interview tour in the top 20 markets and national radio

coverage reached 11.4 million people.

Fundraising for the event is expected to exceed the $7.5 million

goal once all receipts are tallied. Lee calls the event the largest

one-day fundraiser for breast cancer research ever, with the five-year

total of funds raised now more than $31 million. Out-reach

efforts to companies led to participation by 19,460 businesses and

organizations, exceeding the campaign goal of 18,000.


Lee plans to continue with National Denim Day next year. The company

believes consumers are likely to identify positively with an

organization associated with a good cause.

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