Groups make heartfelt connection between young and old on Valentine's Day

Thanks to and Mentor Up, Valentine's Day was a little brighter this year for thousands of older adults.

Organization: (New York) and Mentor Up (Washington, DC)
Love Letters
January 6 - February 15, 2014
about $33,000 for PR/marketing staff time

Thanks to and Mentor Up, a new AARP Foundation initiative, Valentine’s Day was a little brighter this year for more than 250,000 older adults.

Mentor Up launched in September 2013 to encourage young people to pursue reverse mentoring and community service opportunities that directly benefit people 50 and older. focuses on empowering 13- to 25-year-olds to take action to benefit causes they care about.

The organizations first partnered on a Grandparents Gone Wired campaign last fall after answered an RFP issued by Mentor Up.  

"Mentor Up’s cause resonates with our audience, and card-making in particular resonates with our audience so we kept momentum from Grandparents Gone Wired going with the Love Letters campaign," explains’s CMO Naomi Hirabayashi.

"It was kismet," Kamili Wilson, director of strategic positioning and external relations at AARP Foundation, says of the partnership. "Because we were building something for young people out of an older person’s organization, we weren’t sure it would take off. [Our partnership has shown] young people are willing and interested in doing something that makes a difference in the lives of older people."

Strategy recruited actress and musician Victoria Justice to serve as the face of the campaign.

"Victoria has an authentic connection to serving older people, she’s incredibly popular with our audience, and her personality matched the campaign," Hirabayashi says. "Plus, she has more than 6 million Twitter followers."

Mentor Up brought in Meals on Wheels to distribute the cards to seniors on Valentine’s Day.

Messaging was driven through media and blogger relations and social media outreach, including an innovative Snapchat story.

Microsite provided information about how to get involved. All participants were eligible to win a $4,000 college scholarship.

Justice recorded a video PSA and tweeted about the campaign.

PSA distribution partners included Channel One (a TV station in high schools that reaches more than 5 million students), Six Flags, Mall of America, and IZON (airs in quick-service restaurants and HDTV displays in stores).

Traditional media and blogs covering teen lifestyle, nonprofits, general news, celebrities, entertainment, and technology were pitched. Teen-centric DIY bloggers and vloggers were encouraged to give their audiences tips for making cards.

The team also asked various scholarship websites to promote the opportunity.

Teen actress Emma Fuhrmann and singer Madison Beer made cards and promoted the campaign on their social media channels.

The team created a Snapchat photo story featuring Bryce Mathias, who runs the organization’s social media channels, dressed as Cupid. Snapchat audience members were asked to text to vote on how Mathias should deliver cards (on foot, on a bike, or on ice skates). Voters got follow-up messages asking them to participate in the campaign.

Mentor Up, AARP Foundation, Meals on Wheels, and Mentor Up grantees, including the Magic Johnson Foundation, drove messaging through their respective owned channels.

Nearly 73,700 young people made 251,262 cards. Goals were 50,000 participants and 50,000 cards.

Hirabayashi says the campaign was one of’s most successful in terms of percentage over participation goals.

Of Snapchat viewers who texted to vote, 57% signed up to make cards. Social media impressions topped 51.6 million.

Nearly 375 earned stories (126 million impressions) ran in outlets such as, MTV Act, and

Another Grandparents Gone Wired campaign is scheduled for this fall.

"We’re also identifying evergreen and self-directed opportunities we can develop with Mentor Up that will live in’s resources," Hirabayashi adds.

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