Campaign showcases rider stories during AIDS fundraiser

San Francisco AIDS Foundation and LA Gay & Lesbian Center jointly produce AIDS/Lifecycle, a seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, to raise money and awareness for both organizations.

Client: AIDS/LifeCycle (San Francisco and Los Angeles)
Agency: Fifteen Minutes PR (Los Angeles)
Campaign: AIDS/LifeCycle 10th Anniversary
Duration: February – June 2011
Budget: $30,000 (plus $10,000 in pro bono services and $12,000 in expenses)

San Francisco AIDS Foundation and LA Gay & Lesbian Center jointly produce AIDS/Lifecycle (ALC), a seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, to raise awareness and money for both organizations.

Fifteen Minutes PR won the contract for this year's June 5 to 11 ride, which included 2,500 cyclists and about 500 volunteers.

“The brand promise is it will change your life,” says James Loduca, the foundation's VP of marketing and communications. “[That promise] can't be communicated with traditional media. Our most powerful marketing tool is the experience and stories of [participants]. It's a collection of 3,000 stories. We wanted to bring these stories to the surface.”

Strategy
The agency recruited and embedded eight “content creators” to participate and convey their stories daily through multiple channels. Two celebrity “spokesriders” were also recruited.

“We were celebrating ALC's 10th year and acknowledging the 30th anniversary of the first documented HIV/AIDS case,” says agency CEO Bill Harrison. “Media felt the story had been told. Stories from inside the ride were never told.”

Tactics
Content creators included a print journalist, a photographer, a blogger, a vlogger, a Spanish language journalist, two documentarians, and a video biographer.

Agency SAE Andrew Oldershaw notes content creators needed media credibility and ability to handle the ride's physical demands, including sleeping and working in tents.

“We took great caution to ensure every content creator had a track record of covering HIV/AIDS and LGBT topics appropriately,” adds Jim Key, the center's chief public affairs officer.

Content was posted nightly to an “Experience the Event” section of aidslifecycle.org and pitched to general consumer and LGBT outlets each morning. Deals were made with some outlets, such as LGBT blog Towleroad.com, to break content first. Content was also posted on the foundation's and the center's Facebook and Twitter pages.

Celebrity spokesriders Cara Castronuova of The Biggest Loser and Scott Herman of MTV's Real World produced content, conducted interviews, and posted to their social media channels.

Results
A record of more than $13 million was raised. Loduca notes website contributions increased from $483,000 last year to $800,000.

Key says after two years of declining registration, cyclists were capped at 2,500, hitting capacity for only the second time in ALC's history. Online registration for the 2011 ride is up (1,550 compared to 1,250 this time last year).

Media impressions exceeded 500 million in outlets including Today, USA Today, The Advocate, and Univision.

Future
Loduca and Key expect to issue an RFP for next year's ride by the end of October.

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