Family Communications Inc. (FCI), the nonprofit production company founded by Fred Rogers, teamed up with Markowitz Communications to promote its first ever Won't You Be My Neighbor? Days (WYBMND), premised on Mr. Rogers' famous catchphrase. The effort centered on local educational initiatives, along with a final event of Won't You Wear A Sweater Day, encouraging people to wear a sweater on March 20.
The campaign aligned with Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary, and used promotions surrounding local events to build up to the national Sweater Day, which would have been Mr. Roger's 80th birthday.
"[WYBMND] was a way to honor Fred, and continue to inspire others to do their best to be neighborly," says David Newell, FCI director of PR, who served as spokesman for the campaign, reprising his role as Mr. McFeely from the TV show.
Regionally, WYBMND partnered with venues throughout the city and Southwestern Pennsylvania for programs like events at local libraries and reduced-price tickets for children through Tickets for Kids Charities.
Nationally, it was promoted by media spots on programs like Fox & Friends and Good Morning America, as well as a WYBMND Web site and a YouTube video calling for videos and pictures of people wearing their sweaters.
The effort garnered nearly 150 million media impressions, as well as approximately 100,000 hits for the YouTube video. Additionally, more than 30 local organizations chose to participate in Southwestern Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh.
Saul Markowitz, president of Markowitz Communications, says plans for next year's WYBMNDs are already under way, with the possibility of turning the Sweater event "beyond a one-day deal into... year round."
PR team: Family Communications and Markowitz Communications (both Pittsburgh, PA)
Campaign: Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Duration: March 15-20, 2008