Fruitcake goes from boring to benevolent in PayPal initiative

PayPal hosted an end-of- the-year giving campaign, an extension of a 2008 program, encouraging consumers to donate online and spread the news virally by "regifting" a virtual fruitcake.

Company: PayPal
PR agency: Access Communications
Campaign: Regift the Fruitcake
Duration: November 30 to December 31, 2009

PayPal hosted an end-of- the-year giving campaign, an extension of a 2008 program, encouraging consumers to donate online and spread the news virally by "regifting" a virtual fruitcake. Twenty-five charities took part, compared to six in 2008, as did a host of celebrities, including Lisa Rinna and Ryan Seacrest.

Strategy
In its first year, the "Regift the Fruitcake" team tried to leverage social media to reach a younger audience, says Jamie Patricio, PayPal's senior manager for consumer PR. This year's effort featured more charities, including the ASPCA and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. More celebrities took part, as well.

"We wanted to put more of an emphasis on the donation piece and supporting great nonprofits," she adds. "We wanted people to be able to see that they can use PayPal to donate to nonprofits quickly and easily."

Tactics
PayPal launched a microsite, RegiftTheFruitcake.com, and used Facebook Connect.

"This year, Twitter became a huge forum, not only in garnering [awareness] of charities involved with 'Fruitcake,' but also helping us raise additional dollars," says Tuesday Uhland, SVP at Access Communications, PayPal's AOR.

PayPal used the popular #CharityTuesday hashtag to build buzz, and encouraged the nonprofits and celebrity participants to rally their fans and communities to participate.

Results:
The campaign raised more than $41,000 for the charities, saw 107,000 fruitcakes regifted, and reached 24 countries, Patricio says. "Average time spent on the site itself was about 4.25 minutes," Uhland adds, "which is a long time for someone to interact with a brand on a site." Future:
Patricio says PayPal will continue working with nonprofits. "It definitely will evolve," she says. "We have a lot of learnings. We can take those and make something even bigger and better."

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