CAMPAIGNS: Money raised for Tommy's by art blocks - Charity PR

Client: Tommy's
PR Team: Sputnik Communications
Campaign: Building Block's for Tommy's
Timescale: October - November 2002
Budget: Not disclosed but majority of costs were donated

Tommy's is the baby charity which funds a national programme of research and education about premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth.

Tommy's celebrated its tenth birthday this year, and the organisation started planning a series of ambitious fundraising projects two years ago to mark the occasion.


To raise as much money as possible for Tommy's. To maintain media interest.

To reach potential donors with the Tommy's message. To differentiate the initiative from other charitable projects.

Strategy and Plan

An events committee was set up which included patrons of the charity such as Lisa Dennis, the wife of F1 McLaren boss Ron Dennis, and architect Lord Rogers. The committee came up with the simple idea of getting celebrities to paint children's building blocks to be auctioned.

To differentiate the campaign from other celebrity auctions, the team knew they had to get such a long and impressive list of supporters, including from the arts, that it couldn't be ignored.

Approaches were made in April 2002 to celebrities from sport, contemporary art, fashion, film, TV, architecture and music, to decorate and sign a wooden building block in any way they wished, for auction.

The campaign received support from courier company DHL, which paid for all the mailing of the blocks.

The Sunday Times ran features over two weeks to support the campaign, including pictures of some of the finished blocks and a 'Relative Values' interview with Tommy's patron the Duchess of York, and her sister.

Sputnik ran a trade media campaign targeting sectors represented by the contributors, and a national media PR campaign, including TV, radio, print and online.

Debenhams created displays of the blocks in the windows of seven major stores around the UK. This was backed up with regional media relations highlighting blocks from local contributors. A public exhibition of all the blocks was held at Bloomberg Space, Bloomberg's art gallery in Finsbury Square.

The majority of the blocks were auctioned online on The climax was the auction of a select group of blocks at a VIP dinner for 300 guests at Bloomberg on 23 November.

Measurement and Evaluation

The team secured support from more than 160 celebrities, including Tiger Woods, JK Rowling, Jade Jagger, Damien Hirst, the Manchester United team including David Beckham, and F1 racing drivers.

Extensive coverage appeared in targeted regional and national media, all carrying the key messages about the charity's activity, as well as the eBay web address.


Tommy's and Sputnik were aiming to raise £250,000. The series of events over a month raised an incredible £700,000 for the charity. £370,000 of this was raised at the VIP auction.

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