The ongoing campaign, which kicked off April 21, positions ACS as “The Official Sponsor of Birthdays” and seeks to showcase how cancer survivors give the world more birthdays.
“We're the best known health charity in the country,” said Greg Donaldson, national VP of corporate communications for the Atlanta-based organization. “But we struggled with brand relevance. There is a gap in people's general knowledge of who we are and… what we do.”
As part of the campaign, ACS simplified the organization's offerings into four categories: stay well, the nonprofit's prevention and early detection programs; get well, its 24-hour call center and clinical trial support system; finding cures, the investment it makes in scientific research; and fighting back, how ACS works with lawmakers on public policy issues.
The campaign is unique for ACS because it includes the organization's largest social media push and targets a much younger demographic than it has in the past, Donaldson said.
While previous campaigns have been aimed at people in their 50s, this effort targets women 35 to 64 years – the healthcare decision makers – since health prevention has become a more mainstream topic, he noted.
Brodeur Partners, which was named PR AOR in October 2008, is providing support.
The Boston-based firm helped develop the microsite, www.morebirthdays.com; the blog, www.officialbirthdayblog.com; and the Facebook application that allows users to donate their status to ACS on their birthday or encourage friends to give to ACS in lieu of birthday gifts for them, said Leslie Tullio, SVP for Brodeur Partners.
She added that because this demographic of women struggles with time management, the use of social media applications as a way to become involved with a charity like ACS and donate money to the organization is an important part of the communications strategy.
“We're going to where they were, rather than asking them to take the time to come to us,” Tullio said. “We want to talk about birthdays in the frame of the organization's value proposition.”
And, given the current economy, people will have to be discriminating in the charitable choices they make, said Donaldson, whether it's volunteering time or donating money.
As part of the PR initiative, ACS partnered with The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to “reinvent” the birthday cake, he added. The CIA is currently gathering recipes with a nutritional focus that will be judged by a celebrity panel of judges in the coming months.