With negative headlines circulating daily about the Detroit area and its inhabitants, Chrysler saw an opportunity to change the dialogue and generate positive news about the city.
The carmaker called upon The Prewitt Group to create an effort that would reach young people, demonstrate civic pride, and focus on the city's strengths. The agency created an essay contest with a scholarship prize for the winners.
“Our main goal was to get as many entries as possible, so we wanted to make sure the messages reached our target groups: high school, college, and graduates,” says Renee Prewitt, president of The Prewitt Group. The team wanted youth to write about how living in Detroit had positively affected their lives, she adds.
Additionally, Chrysler wanted to showcase how it's a “community partner and a corporation that prides [itself] on being a good neighbor and good citizen,” says Leven Weiss, senior manager of civic and community relations for Chrysler.
To reach the target market, the team partnered with several media outlets and targeted the financial aid and counseling offices at local schools, Prewitt says. The team sent out PSAs and news releases to local TV and radio stations, as well as newspapers.
The team also created a Web site that explained submission guidelines, provided entry forms, and posted the winning essays for users to comment on. It also built a Facebook page announcing the contest, Prewitt adds.
The contest garnered more than 6,000 hits to the Web site and 400 contest entries, Prewitt says. Additionally, it was covered by various outlets, including a supplemental hard copy of the winning essays from the Oakland Press.
Chrysler is planning to move forward and do a similar campaign next year, Weiss says.
PR team: Chrysler (Auburn Hills, MI) and The Prewitt Group (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Campaign: My Journey Through the D Essay Contest
Duration: September 2008