2009 PRO Awards: CNN Community Outreach

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Agency: Civic Entertainment Group
Client: CNN

Coming off a passionate presidential race, CNN wanted to keep the passion running high for its year-end cause-related programs, CNN Heroes, which honors hometown heroes, and Planet in Peril, an environmentally based program.

CNN Heroes honors people chosen from 4,000 nominations by an elite panel of judges, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr. Jane Goodall and Earvin Magic Johnson, among others. Public vote determines one winner.

In Planet in Peril: Battle Lines, CNN icons Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta and National Geographic host Lisa Ling examined environmental conflicts between growing populations and natural resources. Through these programs, CNN wanted to reach more civic-minded viewers and reinforce its reputation as a brand that is on top of important issues.

CNN created mass targeted reach by partnering with leading nonprofits in community service. For Heroes, they reached 40 million people; for Planet in Peril, 9.3 million. Both sets of partners utilized email, newsletters, websites, events and social networking sites to send multiple vote and tune-in messages to their constituents.

Eight “CNN Hero” hometown rallies were held in city halls, schools and firehouses. Executive directors of nonprofit partners were flown to Los Angeles for the show taping and to attend a reception with the 10 heroes, CNN executives, civic leaders and celebrities. CNN.com published a gallery of directors’ essays and publicized their organizations on CNN.com, reaching 11 million daily users.

For Planet in Peril, the Nature Conservancy’s leadership conference (1,000 attendees) viewed a “Planet in Peril” trailer with a special greeting from Anderson Cooper. In addition, New York’s Bronx Zoo ran a looped-video introduction from Cooper at its Congo Gorilla exhibit for four weeks, and hung “Planet in Peril” posters throughout the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium and Prospect Park Zoo.

Overall, content on hundreds of partner websites reached more than 13 million unique users. The Heroes selection process drew 1 million votes, while the show attracted 8 million viewers, an 82% increase over the previous year, and CNN helped generated $300,000 in donations. ROI for Planet in Peril was not given.

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