CAMPAIGNS: Fund-raising - Big hearts help raise big funds

Client: Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston)

Client: Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston)

Client: Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston)

PR Team: Cronin & Co. (Glastonbury, CT)

Campaign: 'Strong as Iron' fund-raiser

Time Frame: June 9 to August 10, 2000

Budget: About dollars 200,000

With 51 successful years, the Variety Club Theatre Collections Program is a moneymaker for the Jimmy Fund, the fund-raising arm of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a treatment and research facility in Boston.

Every three years, a film trailer is produced and shown in East Coast movie theaters to raise money and cancer awareness.

The challenge is always presenting a serious, even depressing subject to people out for an evening of entertainment. A positive emotional response from moviegoers in 270 theaters in 17 states needs to be generated from 120 seconds of film. The message must work if moviegoers, who have spent a substantial amount for tickets, popcorn and drinks, are to reach into their pockets to help children fighting cancer and continue research to find a cure.

The Jimmy Fund, which sought to raise dollars 1.7 million in this year's fund-raiser, brought in Cronin & Co. agency for assistance.


'We've worked with the Jimmy Fund before, and a large part of our effort was pro bono,' says Kim Manning, Cronin's senior vice president and director of client services. Manning's team went to the Dana-Farber Institute and talked to personnel and patients to glean information for making the film trailer.

At the institute, Manning heard a true story that she felt would be perfect for the trailer. A few years earlier, a new wing was added to the Dana-Farber Institute. In the midst of construction, ironworkers and cancer-stricken patients began silently communicating with each other through the windows and formed an emotional bond. Each morning, children would race to the playroom to wave and greet the workers. They eventually started displaying their names on pieces of paper held up to the windows for the ironworkers to see.

The workers responded, first with waves and greetings, and then by spray-painting the children's names in huge letters on the iron beams being lifted into place. Every Friday the workers would pass a hat to collect for the kids and leave a rubber-banded wad of money at the front desk of the institute. This story had the perfect uplifting tone the Jimmy Fund needed to express in its trailer.

'The beauty of the film is that it is true,' Manning says.


Everyone agreed that 'Strong as Iron,' as the trailer was named, would be most effective using real patients and real ironworkers. The Cronin team found a building of similar construction being raised in the Boston area where filming took place, and many of the original ironworkers agreed to work in the film. Current patients at the institute reenacted the scenes of silent communication with workers.

To keep costs down, the theaters were staffed with volunteers who collected donations in theaters after the trailer was shown.

Cronin sent out about 50 three-dimensional mailers, which consisted of a hard hat with shredded money, a press release and the trailer to print media nationwide. The theaters were sent the trailer and a creative brief only. A film poster was displayed in movie theaters showing the trailer.


Media response was concentrated on the East Coast and included many small write-ups and features in Shoot! Magazine, AdWeek and The Boston Globe.

Most important, the campaign raised slightly more than its goal of dollars 1.7 million.


The trailer will run each summer for three years, which is considered the length of time it can be shown before moviegoers grow complacent with the premise, or have seen it too many times.

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