Client: The Aluminum Association (Washington)
PR Team: Hill & Knowlton (Washington)
Campaign: 'Make Every Can Count'
Time Frame: January 2000 to present
Budget: dollars 500,000
Early last year, The Aluminum Association and Habitat for Humanity
decided they wanted better visibility for their 'Aluminum Cans Build
Habitat for Humanity Homes' program. Founded in 1997, the program uses
the proceeds from the recycling of aluminum cans to build homes for the
Hill & Knowlton, which represents The Aluminum Association, proposed
enlisting baseball superstar Sammy Sosa to promote the program through a
PSA. Having received the go-ahead from Habitat, the campaign was
preparing to launch when its success was threatened.
The strategy called for recruiting a respected celebrity with
cross-cultural appeal who would volunteer services as a spokesperson.
Sammy Sosa fit the bill. The Chicago Cubs slugger agreed, provided that
Habitat help construct new homes in his native Dominican Republic, which
had been hit by a hurricane a few years ago.
Filming took place just before spring training started. TV and radio
PSAs in English and Spanish played up Sosa's status as a star player and
emphasized that recycling could help families obtain affordable
An April 2000 Fortune article challenged the financial dealings of the
Sammy Sosa Charitable Foundation, which caused some unanticipated
concern among H&K strategists. With Sosa's reputation in question, the
campaign's success became more uncertain. So an additional dollars
50,000 was budgeted to probe public attitudes about Sosa.
Research found that most people lacked awareness of the allegations and
still held positive views toward Sosa. The baseball star's managers
insisted corrective action was taken in regard to the foundation's
management, and Habitat was willing to proceed on the condition that no
negative stories came out during the summer.
Then came rumblings that Sosa might be traded. If that happened, a
substantial percentage of the PSA footage showing Sosa as a Cub would
have to be redone. But the trade deadline passed, and Sosa stayed in
PSAs were mailed just before Labor Day and Habitat affiliates received
kits demonstrating how to incorporate the recycling program into their
activities. A two-page advertisement promoting the program appeared in
Sosa's star power paid off. As of March 31, PSA airings on radio and TV
represented an ad equivalency of dollars 6.3 million.
In addition, the number of Habitat affiliates participating in the
recycling program grew by 100 when compared to 1999, and can recycling
by these groups increased 25% during the same period. The number of
weekly calls to the program's toll-free information line increased 400%
since before the PSA release.
The Aluminum Association, Habitat and H&K are hopeful Sosa's PSA will
receive more airtime now that baseball season is approaching again.