Something to Smile About
A landmark campaign
But not every one of Operation Smile’s campaigns is star-studded. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, it launched a multifaceted series of initiatives culminating with the World Journey of Smiles in November 2007. During the journey, more than 1,900 Operation Smile volunteers gave new smiles to 4,086 children at 40 sites in 25 countries.
Several months prior to the World Journey of Smiles event, Operation Smile began sending targeted appeals to donors, including some that allowed donors to send a personal message and gift to a child receiving a new smile during the event. It’s a campaign that is a great source of pride for the organization — and it started with a new direct-mail piece.
For years, Shawyer says, Operation Smile had been using the same two-color acquisition control package with good results. Its challenge was to develop a new creative approach that would beat the old control and fit the organization’s very tight budget.
It partnered with Pasadena, Calif.-based agency Russ Reid to produce a simple and inexpensive — yet compelling — 6-inch-by-9-inch, four-color package that featured a child’s tearful face on the outside and unfolded to reveal that same child’s stunning after-surgery story and photo. The piece included a get-well card, and donors were asked to send the card back to children that had undergone surgery, along with a contribution.
“The prospective donor was able to read about the amazing genesis of Operation Smile and subsequent 25-year impact we’ve had on children born with facial deformities and understand how their gift would impact the life of a child,” Shawyer says, adding that the piece engaged the donor because it was “personal and emotional.”
It also was very successful, increasing the organization’s core list by 25 percent and even inspiring one first-time donor to send a $10,000 check.
Related story: Operation Smile Facts