GRE urges support for US troops via virtual toasts

Each year, Grassroots Enterprise (GRE) takes on an "after-school project," a pro-bono effort that aims to make a difference.

Each year, Grassroots Enterprise (GRE) takes on an "after-school project," a pro-bono effort that aims to make a difference. This year, it came up with "Six-Packs for Soldiers," an effort "to celebrate, salute, and toast our fighting forces, in a way that escapes the trappings of any political ideology," says Bill McIntyre, GRE EVP.

"It's no secret that [we are] a bipartisan firm. That being said, we're unified in our support of the troops," says John Hlinko, CEO and president.

The firm built a Web site where people could participate in a "virtual toast" by uploading a photo of themselves toasting the troops. For every virtual toast received, GRE promised to deliver a real beer to a real soldier. "A lot of the goal here is to get the people who see this just to stop for a second and stop debating about the war and focus on the troops and then ask themselves, 'Is there something else I can do to help the troops out?'" explains Hlinko.

The team relied 100% on viral e-mail using their own personal contacts. "We did one news release locally just to say that we were launching the program, but we wanted this to be as viral as possible, and that actually led to [media] calling us," McIntyre says.

The effort has generated 104,000 page views, 32,000 unique visitors, and more than 400 photo uploads. "We've seen photos uploaded from nearly every state and over 99 countries," says McIntyre. Adds Hlinko, "If you look at the proportion of page views to photos, it's clear that people are going there [to go] through the photos." Also, brewers like Boston Brew Co. and Red Hook have offered to contribute beer.

Foreign restrictions are preventing an overseas beer lift, so GRE is planning a beer lift to returning soldiers at a major US base. "We're hoping to make our first delivery no later than Christmas and probably additional [ones] throughout 2008," says McIntyre.

PR team: Grassroots Enterprise (Washington)

Campaign: Six-Packs for Soldiers

Duration: Spring 2007-ongoing

Budget: Less than $100

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