In 2007, Henkel launched a contest called Henkel Helps, encouraging citizens nationwide to tell the company why their community deserved a helping hand. Selected by public vote, Henkel helped clean up flood-damaged areas of Gainesville, TX.
“We wanted to continue the momentum... [so we] came up with the Henkel Helps Schools contest as a logical extension,” says Natalie Violi, Henkel's director of corporate communications.
The contest asked students, parents, school staff, and community members to nominate a deserving school to win $25,000.
The 2008 Henkel Helps Schools Contest aimed to build community goodwill for the company, which has products in 125 countries throughout the world. At the same time, it also aimed to tell moms that its various products – including Dial soaps and Purex laundry detergents – are part of the Henkel umbrella.
“Henkel doesn't make crayons or markers, but [it does] make products that enable moms to help get their kids ready for school,” says Stacey Vaselaney, VP and brand director at Liggett Stashower, Henkel's main PR agency. “Our main task at hand was to link moms' favorite brands to the Henkel corporate identity.”
A nationwide, back-to-school free-standing insert, which included product coupons for Henkel brands, launched the contest. News releases also announced the contest, as well as the top 10 schools and winning schools nationally and locally.
An e-mail to more than 27,000 school officials encouraged nominations. Also, a school-themed Web site, henkelhelps.com, evolved with the contest, eventually allowing the public to vote for their favorite school. The site featured weekly sweepstakes to win a gift basket of Henkel products.
The company hired Red Peg Marketing to help with the winning school's on-site check ceremony.
The contest received more than 1,500 nominations from around the US. Aplington-Parkersburg High School in Iowa – which had been flattened by a tornado (pictured) – was the winner, with more than 250,000 of the 350,000 votes cast.
“Because the program was staged in several phases, such as the program launch... and the check presentation... there was always something interesting to talk about,” Violi says. That helped the contest generate more than 137 million impressions, with coverage concentrated in the markets of the top 10 finalists.
Violi wouldn't reveal sales figures, but she says traffic to henkelna.com spiked during the contest period.
A third Henkel Helps contest is in the works for fall 2009.
Violi says the PR team is exploring the possibility of using some new tactics to reach its audience, including social media.
For the second year of the contest, it was a smart move for the team to again invite the public to vote for the winner. This extended the reach of the campaign, since many of the schools that placed in the top 10 launched outreach efforts of their own, including to their alumni and local media.
Creating the contest was also a smart way for Henkel to promote its products while doing a great service to the community.
The company's challenge this year is to continue the success of the program. The fact that Violi says the team is considering adding social media components is a good sign.
PR team: Henkel (Scottsdale, AZ), Liggett Stashower (Cleveland, OH) and RedPeg Marketing (Alexandria, VA)
Campaign: Henkel Helps Schools
Duration: April-November 2008