Supporters drop and give 22 to raise awareness of veteran suicide

Nonprofit Honor Courage Commitment launched a campaign to help raise awareness of the fact that 22 veterans in the US commit suicide every day.

Client: Honor Courage Commitment (Dallas, Texas)
Agency: Plan B PR (Dallas, Texas)
Campaign: #22Kill
Duration: April 7 - April 11
Budget: $5,000

Honor Courage Commitment (HCC) is a Dallas-based nonprofit that empowers veterans through education, mentoring, and community service.

To help raise awareness of the fact that 22 veterans in the US commit suicide every day, HCC hired Plan B PR to help promote a weeklong campaign calling for video submissions of people doing 22 push-ups.

"Our supporters wear ‘honor rings’ on their right index finger to honor those who have served in the military," explains Andy Nguyen, HCC founder and president and a marine. "Rings can be purchased for $22, but people also have to drop and do 22 push-ups to get it.

"We gave [mental health advocate and author] Julie Hersh a ring and she posted a video of her doing her push-ups online," Nguyen continues. "It got so much traction that four foundations, including The Hersh Foundation and the Sarah and Ross Perot Jr. Foundation, collectively pledged to donate up to $100,000 to HCC for every person who did 22 push-ups in videos that were posted to our Facebook page between April 7 and April 11 with the hashtag #22Kill."

Agency president Bri Crum says the strategy was to ask friends and supporters to submit videos and help spread the word on their social media channels. Local media outreach also helped drive awareness and participation. 

"We wanted to maximize exposure and momentum by raising awareness among influencers with large platforms," Nguyen says. "We reached out to everyone we knew."

Crum and Nguyen called for video submissions via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

They targeted schools, such as Westpoint and Texas A&M, health clubs, restaurants, professional athletes, including NFL player Marc Columbo, and actors, including Charlie Bewely and Matt Dallas.

To help drive participation, submitted videos were reposted to Twitter and Instagram, and influencers were asked to promote the campaign on their own social media channels.

Texas broadcast media and Texas-based lifestyle bloggers were pitched.

By April 11, videos of 3,117 people doing push-ups were posted to HCC’s Facebook page - more than three times what was necessary to get the $100,000 donation.

As of June 24, HCC had videos of more than 5,000 people doing push-ups.  

The donation was presented to HCC on June 25 at a Texas Rangers baseball game, where the crowd was asked to show support by doing 22 push-ups.

Five earned stories ran between April 3 and April 11 in outlets including the local Dallas CBS News morning show. 

HCC has extended the idea through a newly launched website Nguyen says Plan B will likely continue working with HCC.

"Our goal with is to continue to raise awareness for the cause by getting videos of 22 million cumulative push-ups," Nguyen says.

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