Challenges and Successes—“Go Red for Women” Award Winning Campaign

November 11th, 2009

Flickr Image: jon madison

Establish benchmarks at the beginning of each campaign. Do your research. Show that you have positively changed attitude about or knowledge of an issue.

These were the key points presented by Jennifer Pfahler, executive vice president of Edelman, during her discussion of the award-winning integrated communications campaign, Go Red for Women (American Heart Association), at this year’s PRSA International Conference. (Full disclosure: the American Heart Association (AHA) is a BurrellesLuce client and my grandmother died of heart disease a couple years ago.)

Pfahler outlined the challenges associated with creating a campaign of this type:

  • Not many women know that heart disease is the #1 killer of women.
  • Women have different symptoms of heart disease than men.
  • AHA needed to drive women to its website and move them to take the checkup.
  • Fundraising for education, scientific research, media outreach had to accelerate.

Pfahler said Edelman had worked on the Go Red for Women account for a few years, but was limited to one event in February. They worked to craft an integrated campaign, which included a TV documentary with NBC/Universal, and to find ways to create buzz throughout the 2007 year. In February 2007, they were able to pitch Marie Osmond as their spokesperson, and generate interest in their casting call for the documentary. Out of almost 800  submited stories, eight were picked, verified by Edelman, and used in the documentary.

To help gain more local coverage, Edelman did surveys to find the most heart-healthy and least heart-healthy cities.

Edelman helped AHA create further buzz, which allowed them to gain Macy’s and Merk as sponsors, among others.

The Go Red for Women campaign was incredibly successful:

  • 100,000 local placements (over the course of five years).
  • 14 billion impressions.
  • 16 million people touched.
  • 900+ women joined “Go Red for Women” and took actionable steps toward improving their heart health.
  • The documentary aired in over 90 markets.
  • AHA gained advocates, including Hoda Kotb.
  • Sponsors and partners, including Toni Braxton on the The View,.touted the initiative.
  • Macy’s placed the “Red Dress” campaign on TLC’s What not to Wear.
  • The campaign received several awards, including the Silver Anvil and Clio, among others

What’s next? AHA and Edelman are hoping to do a film and truly launch a national campaign.

How do you create great campaigns which move people to action? Do you have ideas to share?

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