Allstate fights domestic violence

Four years ago, the Allstate Foundation identified monetary issues affecting abuse victims as a priority cause.

Four years ago, the Allstate Foundation identified monetary issues affecting abuse victims as a priority cause. “We were shocked that no one was doing anything around financial empowerment for domestic violence survivors,” says Jennifer Kuhn, program manager for the Economics Against Abuse program. “One of the main reasons women stay in an abusive relationship is because they think they can't make it financially.”

After three years of grassroots outreach, it debuted its first consumer push, “Tell a Gal P.A.L.,” aimed at getting women to talk openly about domestic violence.

The effort rallied around a female symbol of economic empowerment: a purse. “We wanted a common place for everyone – and a purse is something that women covet and that is their own,” says Lani Sweeney, VP at Zeno Group. A purse drive encouraged people to donate new purses that would be given to Dress for Success, a non-profit that helps disadvantaged women return to the workforce.

Zeno Group also enlisted Ugly Betty actress Ana Ortiz who had been in an abusive relationship in her 20s, to communicate the financial independence message to mainstream and Spanish-language media.


Thanks to Ortiz's participation, The Allstate Foundation secured category exclusives with US Weekly, USA Today, and Entertainment Tonight. Ortiz also participated in an SMT that reached 15 key markets.

To help promote the purse drive, Ortiz donated an Onna Ehrlich purse from her personal collection.

Visitors to could win the purse by using the send-to-a-friend feature. Following the purse drive, videos posted on the site and YouTube featured Ortiz and other domestic violence survivors talking about the subject.

Zeno also distributed purse drive toolkits to nearly 400 pre-selected Allstate locations. Internally, promotions included corporate videos and on-site activities.

The team collected almost 12,250 purses, exceeding its expectations. Kuhn credits the response in part to employee engagement. “Our goal was to get 150 agents across the country involved in the program and setting up purse donation locations, but we ended up having about 350 agents involved,” she says.

After the launch of the campaign, enjoyed an 80% boost in unique visits. In addition to the secured exclusives, the effort was featured on E News, the Daily 10, the Chicago Tribune, Cincinnati Inquirer,,, and, among others. In all, it earned roughly 300 media placements.

Objectives will be higher when The Allstate Foundation launches year two of the campaign in September. While Kuhn declined to provide specifics, moving forward, it is looking at new partnerships and might involve additional celebrities.

PRWeek's view
Allstate was wise to find its own angle, financial empowerment of women, to connect to the domestic violence cause. Taking three years to focus on grassroots outreach, including connecting with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, helped give proper foundation to the effort once it launched to consumers.

Enlisting Ortiz, a star who could reach mainstream and Hispanic audiences, was smart. It helped extend the message's reach. Combining external consumer and internal employee engagement also contributed to the campaign's success.

PR team: The Allstate Foundation (Northbrook, IL) and Zeno Group (Chicago)

Campaign: Tell a Gal P.A.L.

Duration: September 22-October 31, 2008

Budget: $285,000

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