Robot nonprofit FIRST brings on the Purpose Collaborative

Porter Novelli previously worked with the organization.

FIRST students compete at the FIRST Championship event  (Photo credit: FIRST)
FIRST students compete at the FIRST Championship event (Photo credit: FIRST)

BOSTON: Science education and robotics nonprofit FIRST has chosen a team from the Purpose Collaborative — a network of 40 comms, purpose and creative shops focused on cause marketing — to handle its comms and consumer activation efforts.

FIRST, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, issued an RFP and began a formal search for a new agency last June. The Purpose Collaborative began working on the AOR account last November. 

FIRST looked at five agencies — culled from the larger pool that responded to the RFP — over the summer and early fall last year before settling on the Purpose Collaborative, said Brooke Blew, FIRST’s director of marketing.

Specifically, Blew said, FIRST is looking to the Purpose Collaborative to broaden public perception about the organization. FIRST designs accessible programs to encourage young people to pursue education and careers in science and technology. It has been known for its robotics competitions, according to its website.

"One of our goals is to plan and to begin to execute a long-term advocacy campaign with our community that ladders up to local and federal government, trying to get STEM funding in every school and really bring awareness to issues in the U.S. and worldwide about the workforce pipeline and lack of STEM [talent]," she said. "We’re also looking to become a thought leader in that space so we’re not just seen as a robots competition."

Some of the early work for FIRST includes strategic campaign creation, movement marketing and proactive media and entertainment marketing counsel.

"PR and media consumer activation is the largest lever we pull in the marketing department," added Blew.

The team of five working on the FIRST account includes co-leaders Kristian Merenda, a partner at Carol Cone On Purpose, and Megan Tucker, a senior director with RF|Binder, as well as Marcus Peterzell, founder of Passion Point Collective, Annie Longsworth, executive MD at RF|Binder and Carol Cone.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

FIRST had been working with Porter Novelli in Boston, but chose not to invite the agency to pitch. Porter Novelli parted ways with FIRST in January 2019.

"For a very long time we had a good relationship," said Blew. "But as FIRST continued to grow and had a lot of changes internally, we made the decision we needed to work with a new partner with more diverse capabilities." 

What drew FIRST to the Purpose Collaborative was the group’s diverse abilities, from marketing to corporate comms to consumer activations, to build "really fully integrated marketing campaigns," explained Blew.

"We wish [FIRST] nothing but success with Purpose Collaborative and in all future endeavors," said a Porter Novelli spokeswoman.

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