Better Than a Four-Leaf Clover
Transform an afternoon event into a successful multichannel campaign?
That sounds like a tall order. But as it heads into the third year of its Shamrocks for Kids campaign, Chicago-based Mercy Home for Boys and Girls seems to have pulled it off.
Since the late 1980s, Mercy Home has hosted A Touch of Green, a family-oriented, post-St. Patrick’s Day parade party to increase awareness about Mercy Home and its mission. As such, it wasn’t really a revenue generator. In years past, tickets to the event cost about $35.
“Our idea was to take sole focus away from the post-parade event, which up to 2003 wasn’t netting us a lot of money, and expand the idea into more of a multichannel marketing campaign,” says Peter Schoewe, director of direct marketing at Mercy Home.
Mercy Home was founded in 1887 and now has 14 residential homes in the Chicago area for boys and girls ages 11 to 21; the Catholic organization raises almost 98 percent of its funds from private individuals.
Mercy Home’s direct-marketing team originally wanted to create a Christmas-season mailing around the A Touch of Green event to raise awareness. Since Mercy Home sends a majority of its direct mail out during the Christmas season, that seemed like the best time to focus efforts on creating a campaign around A Touch of Green.
“But we came to the conclusion that there’s so much competition for attention during the Christmas season, it would be better for us to focus on a time of the year that wasn’t so heavily trafficked, and we already had media partners that were interested in participating,” Schoewe says.
Ultimately, the team created Mercy Home’s first-ever multichannel marketing campaign, Shamrocks for Kids, which kicked off in early February 2004.
Campaign objectives included building awareness about Mercy Home’s mission, especially among Chicagoans; acquiring new regional and national donors while still engaging existing Chicago-based donors; and raising money to remodel one of its 14 homes.Mercy Home’s development staff leveraged elements already in place for its St. Patrick’s Day event, including free radio public-service announcements, street banners and volunteers who sold shamrock pins with green ribbons on the street.