Cincinnati hospital, Toyota revamp children's safety program after Edelman hire

CINCINNATI: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and Toyota are overhauling their national Buckle Up for Life program after turning to Edelman as the new PR AOR for the effort.

CINCINNATI: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and Toyota are overhauling their national Buckle Up for Life program after turning to Edelman as the new PR AOR for the effort.

The program is entering its tenth year. Since its inception, it has grown from an Ohio-focused effort to a national one. Moving forward, the hospital wants to expand its target audience to all child caregivers from largely focusing on minority audiences.

Edelman will provide strategic counsel, develop and implement national PR programs including consumer marketing, social advocacy, traditional media, and social media outreach.

Target audiences include all consumer segments, policymakers, and community leaders. The agency will position Cincinnati Children's and Toyota as thought leaders in the area of childhood passenger safety, according to a statement from the firm.

The firm replaced incumbent Porter Novelli, which unsuccessfully rebid for the effort, said Tammy Hatcher, lead associate of marketing and communications at the medical center.

“Edelman had some really different ideas; we also based our decision on previous work Edelman had done for nonprofits like the Go Red for Women campaign,” she said. “They seemed like a good fit and came to the table with so many ideas that we were overwhelmed, but in a good way.”

Requests for comment from Porter were not returned.

The program's key messages include raising awareness of the importance of children wearing seatbelts and the proper way to install car seats.

The firm was drawn to the project considering Edelman's work on seatbelt safety efforts going back to the 1970s.

“From a personal standpoint, I have a two-year-old. Safety is a universal need; at the end of the day, everyone deserves to be safe,” said Sonia Sroka, EVP and group head of multicultural marketing at Edelman. “[The account] is not business as usual. This is a movement, and we want to gain as much traction and get as many people to support it as we can.”

The hospital and Toyota are also looking to create a unique web presence for the initiative, instead of a subsite on the Cincinnati Children's website. Agency Home Front Communications has won the website-related work, which will be unveiled alongside the revamped campaign in September.

“We were drawn to this program because we immediately connected Toyota and Cincinnati Children's Hospital around the idea that the centerpiece of this effort should be a best-in-class mobile web experience to help families,” said Paul Frick, a partner at Home Front Communications.

In April, Toyota launched a spy-themed initiative promoting the 2013 edition of its Avalon model targeting black consumers.

This story was updated on July 18 with quotes from Edelman's Sonia Sroka. 

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