Brendan Gannon

Marketing Campaign

Live, in-person events had been at the heart of the effort to raise awareness for the No Kid Hungry annual fundraising campaign, “Dine for No Kid Hungry.” (People who eat out can round up their checks or donate in exchange for rewards.) The team recognized that live streaming was becoming an unstoppable trend: 111 million-plus Americans live-streamed videos in 2019. In re-imagining their campaign, the team opted to get off the road and live-stream a well-promoted 90-minute variety program across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

With a celebrity host and a celebrity-chef co-host—along with appearances by other celebrities—the show featured segments on feeding finicky kids, noodle jewelry, a cooking demo, and pancake art. Interviews were also included, as were cutaways to partner locations (like Arby’s and Shake Shack), with partners introducing a sweepstakes component of the campaign. Some 278,000 people saw the live stream, with 170,000 visits recorded to the landing page, a more than 550% increase over 2018. The campaign also earned top-tier media coverage.

Brendan Gannon

Fundraising Campaign

Most organizations have tapped into social media, digital ads, TV news, and email in their fundraising campaigns. Habitat for Humanity of Collier County in Florida was no exception. But the nonprofit was facing some unique challenges for its ninth annual fundraiser. With matching funds of $750,000—a quarter of a million dollars more than the previous year—the group needed to reach a wider audience. This would be a challenge, since the group’s second annual challenge was scrapped because its partner organization was holding its own fundraiser around the same time.

The solution was to include a branded insert in the local newspaper, blending elements of the group’s annual report (featuring stories of Habitat partner families and their children, volunteer and donor features, and financial information), along with a letter from the CEO and an invitation to participate in the campaign. The four-day campaign wound up raising a total of $2.43 million, representing a significant increase in new donors and online donors.

Brendan Gannon

Event PR and Marketing

Real estate company RE/MAX is one of the many organizations that donate to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For RE/MAX, the donations come from the sale of properties listed as Miracle Homes or Properties, with donations made upon the properties’ sale. These donations would amount to more if the program were more widely known among agents, which led the CMN Hospitals communications and fundraising teams to build a three-room Miracle Home in the trade show space of the company’s annual convention.

Each room was themed to educate agents about the program and the impact of the fundraising through video, artwork, placards, and meet-and-greets with CMN Hospital patients. Throughout the home, agents could see feeding tubes, cystic fibrosis vests, a calendar of medical appointments, and other symbols of life for a CMN Hospital patient. Some 1,000 people visited the booth, many choosing to become participants in the program; many of those agents touring the mock home also posted about it on social media.

Brendan Gannon

Community-Nonprofit Partnership

It was mid-March when all 700,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District and their parents learned they would learn from home for the rest of the school year as schools shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Local public media organizations PBS SoCal, KLCS, and KCET took up the challenge to ensure students had access to on-air and online educational programming.

Working with LAUSD curriculum leads, the PBS stations redesigned their current programming schedules to include content that met educational requirements; the schedules, along with interactive activities, were delivered to parents and teachers via a weekly newsletter.

Online training sessions were provided to over 5,000 teachers; more than 15,000 people have signed up for At-Home Learning on the PBS LearningMedia site since it launched in mid-March. To raise awareness, the communications team secured coverage from over 400 local, statewide, and national media outlets. More than 200,000 daily viewers, representing 140,000 homes, have tuned in to the programming.

Brendan Gannon

Community-Nonprofit Partnership

For the 14th year of IHOP’s Free Pancake Day, the restaurant chain introduced a twist: Not only would a panel anoint a winner from three finalists, all patients at a Children’s Miracle Network hospital, but for the first time, the winner’s pancake would appear for a limited time on IHOP’s menu.

Brody Simoncini claimed the top prize for his Oreo® Oh My Goodness pancake. Oreo® cookies have special meaning to Kid Chef Champion Brody. The cookie was the first solid food he could eat following surgery to correct a rare condition. He was born with most of his organs outside of his body.

Designed to raise awareness of the financial needs of children’s hospitals on National Pancake Day, the sales of the winning pancake raised $477,173 for CMN Hospitals and 88% of the media coverage of the day the campaign kicked off focused on the Kid Chef activation and charitable messaging, an increase of 33% over the previous year.

Brendan Gannon

Branding or Rebranding Campaign

Part of Oklahoma State University’s first-ever strategic marketing and communication plan called for an updated brand identity. Founded in 1890, OSU now has a single mark that represents the entire university. It took two years to get there, with research serving as the foundation for the mark’s development.

Target market research, market penetration research, a digital audit of more than 1,600 online OSU accounts and websites, and an extensive competitive design analysis contributed to the logo facelift. The OSU team corrected design inconsistencies and stress-tested the revamped logo across several pieces of collateral to validate its effectiveness on everything from embroidery to print.

Launched with an extensive internal and external communications strategy, OSU retired more than 100 subsidiary logos; all institutions, colleges, departments, and units now utilize the new, overarching brand. A sure sign of success, the mark was embraced and promoted immediately by all areas across its five institutions.

Brendan Gannon

Advocacy or Awareness Campaign

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto is well known in the community for delivering great care. What wasn’t well known was that the aging hospital was increasingly challenging for doctors, staff, and families. Needing an additional $400 million for a new hospital, and together with its agency No Fixed Address, the team created an experience, transforming an unused conference room into a precise replica of the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

A three-hour experience featured a soundscape and live reenactments featuring SickKids doctors, nurses, and voice recordings from families. The PICU was listed on Airbnb (at $16,744, the cost to operate a four-patient room in the PICU for one night). Notable Torontonians were invited to the space, including media, with local personalities linked to the hospital serving as the basis for online videos to further raise awareness.

Brendan Gannon

CSR Professional of the Year

In the time Kevin Martinez was named ESPN’s vice president of corporate citizenship in February 2013, he’s had quite an impact on both the business world and communities ESPN serves.

To bring ESPN’s mission—“Serve the Sports Fan. Anytime. Anywhere.” to life, in 2015, Martinez developed an outcomes-based philanthropic strategy. His goal was to create a robust corporate social responsibility program that built the business while making a meaningful impact on the community.

The objective was to provide access to sports for underserved youth, while helping kids build leadership skills and empowerment through sports. He set tangible impact goals, which included enabling one million kids access to sports by 2020.

He’s gained buy-in both internally and externally including collaborating with nonprofits, colleagues in every major professional sports league, as well as advertisers and sponsors, and thought leaders throughout the industry. His strategy included collaboration and engagement from ESPN employees, leadership from each segment of the business, and support from the Walt Disney Company.

Under Martinez, ESPN enhanced its relationships with sports leagues, sponsors and other business partners. His work with internal and external partners enabled ESPN to exceed its 2020 goal, and by the end of 2019 enable 1.7 million access to sports.

Also during that time, ESPN built or refurbished 81 play spaces in underserved communities worldwide, and provided 219,000 coaches with training in an effort to remove the barriers of accessing sports.

With programs like Sports 4 Life, ESPN has helped nearly 60,000 girls build leadership, self-esteem, confidence and perseverance through sports programs since 2014.

Martinez also recognizes that leadership and empowerment through sports maximizes human potential and allows the development of 21st century skills including communication, collaboration and critical thinking. With this understanding, he launched programs that created access to sports, while also using sports as a catalyst for empowerment.

To help grow youth participation in sports, ESPN teamed up with a number of nonprofit organizations whose primary mission was to get kids, who may otherwise not play sports, into the game.

Between 2013 and 2019, ESPN helped Unified Sports achieve a 172% increase in athlete and teammate participation (nearly 1,815,000 participants today) and a 464% increase in the number of Unified Sports coaches (nearly 119,000 today). And in 2019, ESPN renewed its broadcast agreement with Special Olympics to be the Global Broadcast Sponsor of the Special Olympics’ premier events for the next eight years, as well as the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports.

Brendan Gannon

CSR Campaign of the Year

Rounding up can round up a lot of cash—and that cash can do a lot of good.

The overall program strategy for Panda Express is simple: Ask every customer to round up their order total to the next dollar. Those small increments add up to millions of dollars every year for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and their educational charities.

Here’s an example: If a customer buys a meal at Panda Express and the total comes to $7.27, that customer is asked to round up to an even $8 to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The customer would then agree or disagree that their change—this time totaling 73 cents—be donated. 

The results are no small change.

In 2019, Panda Express raised $51.4 million for its charity partners through its in-store fundraising program—roughly $140,000 every day. The program has seen significant growth over the past two years, having raised $29.4 million in 2017 and $41.8 million in 2018.

The program also inspires brand loyalty among customers. Panda Restaurant Group’s surveys have found that millennials and members of Gen Z recognize its involvement in supporting local efforts and are 80% more likely to remain loyal to Panda Express into their adult lives. 

Internally, employees see the impact they are making on the 131 hospitals that they fundraise for through monthly engagement meetings, patient interactions and high-level reporting of impact. Of course, happy employees mean high retention rates and better customer service.

Brendan Gannon

Public Health or Safety Initiative

When a teenager gets a driver’s license, it’s a time of great excitement—and excruciating anxiety for parents.

Toyota and Discovery Education partnered to create TeenDrive365, a comprehensive engagement program that includes safe-driving tools and resources to students and teachers.

This approach to safety education is grounded in bringing teens and educators together with creative contests and resources to change teens’ behaviors.

Peer-to-peer messaging is a crucial element.

To that end, they launched the TeenDrive365 Video Challenge, which encourages students in grades 9-12 to create original public service announcements describing the dangers of distracted driving and how they can promote safer driving. The creators then upload their videos to YouTube.

Cash prizes are a major incentive:

  • Grand Prize: $15,000 and the chance to work with a Discovery Education film crew to reshoot the winning video as a TV-ready PSA
  • Second-place prize: $10,000
  • Third-place prize: $7,500
  • Fourth- to 10th-place prizes: $2,500 each
  • Four regional prizes: $1,000 each
  • People’s Choice prize: $5,000

Over the past 10 years, the TeenDrive365 program has reached thousands of students nationwide. The 2019 TeenDrive365 Video Challenge saw registrants from all 50 states.

Additional highlights: 

  • More than 4,600 registered for the 2018 Challenge
  • com received visitors from over 170 countries.
  • Coverage garnered more than 168 million impressions across multiple channels.
Brendan Gannon

Global CSR Initiative

If you are a global company, having a global impact requires some creative thinking.

In line with its youthful audience and history of highlighting game changers, MTV International and parent company ViacomCBS wanted to shine a light on the work of five young activists who were making a difference in their corner of the world. To that end, the company added an awards category to its annual EMA Awards show called the MTV EMA Generation Change Award.

MTV honored five activists, ranging in ages from 18 to 33 years old who were working on issues from climate change to LGBTQ rights and racial equality. The campaign gave an exclusive to Refinery29, which traveled behind the scenes at the awards show and for other events in Seville, Spain, where young activists were brought together for discussions and workshops to inspire youth activism.

MTV has a unique platform with fans across the world and was able to use its position to shine a light on these young activists and their causes. By participating in the EMA Awards, the activists were given exposure to the more than 160 media outlets that attend the show and the nearly 300,000 fans worldwide who watched the broadcast. Content was shared on MTV’s social media platforms, which have a combined audience of more than 10.9 million.

The partnership with Refindery29 also provided major coverage across the outlet’s website and social platforms.

Brendan Gannon

Fundraising and Philanthropic Initiative

People around the planet care about the planet—notably the giant redwoods that are part of California’s identity.

Landis Communications worked with the Save the Redwoods League (SRL) to promote the acquisition of one of the world’s last remaining groves of giant sequoias and spur fundraising to protect the property.

International coverage of “The Campaign to Save Alder Creek” reached nearly 500 million people and drove $15 million in private donations worldwide in just four months. The organization received a record number of donations from people in every U.S. state and 30 countries. 

Since 1918, SRL has protected 216,000 acres of redwood forests from logging and real estate development, creating 60-plus public parks.

In 2019, SRL secured an opportunity to protect the 530-acre Alder Creek tract in California, to date its most significant giant sequoia conservation opportunity. The real estate deal closed in August 2019 and SRL had until Dec. 31 to raise $15.65 million to protect the property.

Part of an integrated campaign, SRL asked Landis to increase awareness of Alder Creek, support the fundraising effort and educate the public about protecting redwoods.

The results were impressive:  

  • The campaign generated more than 344 articles, 22% more than the goal.
  • International coverage included BBC Radio Five Live, the Guardian and news sites in France and Italy.
  • The campaign got front-page coverage with the San Francisco Chronicle and The Mercury News (San Jose), the Los Angeles Times, CNN, Forbes, O: The Oprah Magazine, Eco Watch and Smithsonian.
  • Broadcast coverage included numerous TV and radio stations across the U.S.
  • SRL achieved the highest-ever amount of private funds raised through donations for a single project in its history. Donations ranged from $1 to seven-figure contributions.
Brendan Gannon

Education or Scholarship Program

The Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program at Sallie Mae is at the core of its mission—to help the next generation of leaders build prosperous futures.

Launched in 2016, it recognizes students who excel in academics, athletics, community service, or school activities, but whose financial circumstances may not allow them to pursue their college dreams.

The program also provides a meaningful way for Sallie Mae’s 2,000 employees to get involved at the ground level and contribute to the mission by raising funds for the scholarship program.

Hundreds of employees participated in various events, including Sallie Mae 5K races across the country, office Ping-Pong tournaments, bake sales and raffles. Employees also wrote letters to their alma maters, their children’s schools, and local community leaders to spread the word. Members of the company’s business development team made sure school counselors and community leaders had the application information.

The large role employees play in fundraising has resulted in raising nearly $200,000 since the program’s launch. Not only did employees help raise funds for the scholarships, they were part of a surprise reveal.

In 2019, announcements of the Bridging the Dream Scholarship high school program winners were split into six virtual reveals and two in-person reveals. The students’ nominators were in on the secret and helped Sallie Mae surprise the students via Skype. The students’ reactions were all captured on camera and those images and videos were then shared with Sallie Mae employees and the media.

Also in 2019, Sallie Mae announced its Bridging the Dream Scholarship for graduate students at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) Brand Activation Marketing Conference in Orlando, Florida, where its Chief Marketing Officer, Donna Vieira, was presenting on Sallie Mae’s new brand. The four winners were surprised with a $80,000 check.

In addition to promoting these scholarships through the media and social media, Sallie Mae’s sales team got in touch with their high school and college contacts, through email and in-person meetings, and drove the prospective nominators to the programs’ dedicated webpages.

Scholarship promotion for the Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program resulted in nearly 2 billion media impressions. This included online, print or broadcast coverage in every market it had a scholarship recipient. It had nearly 160,000 visits to its landing pages. Additionally, social media owned and earned posts reached more than 4.5 million people, resulting in 7 million impressions, and more than 40,000 engagements.

Brendan Gannon

Disaster Prevention or Relief

Water is the source of life, but it can also endanger it.

Xylem’s mission is to help solve the world’s intensifying water challenges—including helping those lacking clean water because of flooding or some other calamity.

In 2019, Xylem formalized its disaster relief efforts by launching its Global Humanitarian Disaster Response (DR) platform, in coordination with its corporate social responsibility program, Watermark.

The Disaster Response Team helped those affected by 11 disasters, working with 24 strategic partners to provide access to clean water. Responses include:

  • Mozambique and Zimbabwe: Flooding displaced thousands after Cyclone Idai struck in March 2019. Xylem’s South Africa team deployed dewatering equipment and clean drinking water (AquaBlocks) to assist with rescues and cleanup, as well as a sanitary water station at a rural medical clinic that serves up to 9,500 people daily.
  • India: After severe flooding, the team installed AquaBlock and AquaHome units at schools, villages and relief camps, helping more than 5,000 people.
  • North America: In partnership with the Red Cross, Xylem raised funds and sent experts for relief efforts across the continent in the wake of tornadoes in Ohio, Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, flooding in the Midwest, and flooding in Montreal. 
Brendan Gannon

Corporate-Community or Nonprofit Partnership

Anytime a family avoids a tax foreclosure, it’s a win for that family, the neighborhood and the municipality.

It’s one less family left without the security of a home, one less property at risk of speculation or blight. It’s also a huge cost savings—by one estimate $96,000—for residents, the county and the municipality.

Quicken Loans Community Fund (QLCF) partners with 30-plus community organizations to knock on the doors of 60,000 Detroit families behind on their taxes. The surveyors in the Neighbor to Neighbor program live in those very neighborhoods, so the conversations prompt meaningful action.

From that outreach, Quicken found that over 75% of homeowners behind on property taxes should have been eligible for an exemption. In response, it developed monthly workshops to give city resident direct assistance with exemption applications.

Quicken has helped nearly 9,000 Detroit families avoid tax foreclosure in two years.

Additionally, over 1,100 renters and low-income homeowners have been served through the Make it Home program, which uses philanthropic funds to buy homes out of tax foreclosure and offers them to the occupants for under $7,000 over one year.