Put Out Your Cigarette and Register to Be an Organ Donor!

March 31, 2008 at 5:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The Donate Life Ohio Do It Now campaign at Kent State has been my life this semester. One of our upcoming tactics is a flash mob. A flash mob is simply a group of people freezing in place for five minutes. Our team, comprised of seven PR students, is using the opportunity to spread the word about our cause (which I’ll describe a bit later). At our last meeting, we compared our guerilla tactic with the Truth campaign–a campaign we all agreed has done a phenomenal job reaching its audience.

Tr48x48_sunnydark.gifuth, a campaign to discourage teen smoking, was launched in 2000 by the American Legacy Foundation.  Several things set this campaign apart from the “smoking is bad” speeches and pamplets we’ve received all our lives. The Truth Campaign presents it’s audience with puzzling ads, commericals and guerilla tactics. And they’re making a difference.

According to research recorded in the American Journal of Public Health, in 2002, there were 300,000 fewer young smokers because of the Truth Tour. My generation, as young adolescents at the campaign’s launch, has had full exposure to this campaign, and we see the results first-hand. I can count friends and family that smoke on one hand–that’s pretty good if you ask me.

Some of the campaign’s recent tactics, despite a shrinking budget, included:

  • In Aug. 2007, teaming up with the Warped Tour in Pittsburgh
  • In 2008, launching of the “Sunny Side of Truth,” including the much talked about “Magical Amount” commercial. It’s all sarcastic digs at tobacco companies. Watch it, you’ll laugh.

The guerilla tactics filmed in many of Truth’s commercials is exactly what we want to accomplish in our flash mob. We want to grab attention and provide information at the same time.

Okay–so our objectives are rather opposite. Truth wants to decrease smoking in youth across the country. Donate Life Ohio wants to increase the amount of registered organ donors in Ohio. But we’ve got the same idea.

do-it-now.jpgSo here’s a little bit about the Do It Now competition.

Kent State is in a statewide competition against 13 other schools. The challenge is to register 400,000 donors across the state (Kent State’s goal is 14,571 in three counties). We’ve been holding drives across campus all year to get people to sign up, and we’ve caught on that we have to do more than sit at a table and wait for people to ask us about organ donation.

We need to draw attention to the cause easily and effectively –oh yea, without blowing our budget. We’re mocking Truth’s tactics to do that. We want to make people curious. The curiousity, we hope, will result in people asking questions about what we’re about. This video will give you a better feel for what a flash mob is.

Unlike the Truth campaign, the Do It Now campaign has the obstacle of driving to people a Web-site or getting them to fill out some paper work after the event.

We’re hoping that that Facebook, our tool for recruiting flash-mobbers, will help drive people to our Web-site. On Facebook alone, 45 freezers have confirmed participation in the the mob. Aside from Facebook, we’re getting people on-board by stopping in classrooms and working with student organizations. I think there’s quite a bit of buzz about it. Read what Rob Jewell, a PR professor at Kent State, had to say about the campaign.

Buzz is good, but the real success is measured by how many people we register by May 14.

So wish us luck, and if you have 5 minutes to spare, show up at Risman Plaza at 2:15 p.m. this Wednesday.


Thanks, Salad Sisters

February 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I was excited and bewildered at the essentially useless Apple desktop computer my family got in the mid-90s. At the bottom of the box the computer came in was the Dole 5 A Day Adventure CD-ROM. And my life would never be the same…really. 

The 5 A Day Adventure CD-ROM was no Oregon Trail. It was my first interactive computer experience. The fruits and vegetables talked to you. They had personalities and names (Bobby Banana and Salad Sisters, to name a few.) The characters starred in music videos.

dole-pic.jpgOkay, the CD-ROM is pretty amateur by today’s standards, but in 1995, this was high-tech stuff. I watched the music videos over and over. I mastered every game. I fought with my sisters over computer time. What I didn’t realize then was that I was learning. As soon as it would have turned too obviously educational, that would have been the end of my 5 A Day Adventure.

I received Dole’s CD-ROM as part of its 5 A Day campaign, which has been on-going since 1991. A lot of Dole’s efforts targeted elementary schools with the CD-ROM. I received it through a partnership with Apple Computers.

I want to say thanks, Dole.

My parents didn’t force me to eat healthy as a kid. I ate just as many hot-dog and mac n’ cheese meals as every other kid in the 90s, but I make good decisions about what I eat as an adult. Maybe Dole didn’t cause a healthy eating revolution with its 5 A Day Adventures, but I think they helped shape the way I eat.

Dole couldn’t have done better in targeting our generation. With Nintendo, TV shows and computers, we wouldn’t bother to pick up a pamphlet or listen to the school nurse. We needed more and we got more.

But the problem in child obesity still exists. Many blame the advertisers who market their high-sugar products on TV stations like Nickelodeon. Last year 11 companies in the food industry agreed to stop advertising products that do not meet certain nutritional standards to children under 12.

Susan Linn, co-founder of the Boston-based group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said in the New York Times article:

            “This is great public relations for the companies, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.”

 Linn is right. Steps are being taken toward a healthier future, but it’s still not enough.  

Solution? more PR. 

Task: Creative, healthy eating campaigns that will educate and entertain children of the new millennium. 

From the look of Dole’s 5 A Day Web site, it plans on doing just that. Jennifer Grossman, Vice President and Director of Dole Nutrition Institute, addresses the change in a letter saying:

 “ Several factors helped us wake up to the need to revamp our program. Perhaps the most obvious is the fact that the new 2005 Dietary Guidelines now recommend far more than just ‘5-A-Day,’ but rather, depending on age, urge up to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Second, much has changed in the twelve years since Dole 5 A Day was first launched. Obesity has surpassed malnutrition as the main challenge facing today’s children. Parents need to take on a greater role in preventing obesity — and therefore need to be more actively included in this site. Diversity and shifting demographics cry out for increased access to nutrition education resources for Hispanic populations. Incredible technological innovations have opened up opportunities for us to deliver content in new, more interactive and cost efficient ways.”

Parents can also take an online survey, to help Dole determine what should be on the updated site.

Props, again to Dole.

Starbucks- nonfat faux pas?

February 11, 2008 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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starbucks-logo.gifmary-kate-and-ashley.gifSomething happens to me when I pass the little brown and white building on the corner of Lincoln and Main streets in Kent, Ohio—the home to Starbucks.

I forget my New Year’s resolution to spend money wisely, forget that I have to be somewhere in five minutes, and I find myself standing in the line to pay four dollars and some odd change for a grande nonfat Cinnamon Dolce Latte, with the occasional extra shot of espresso.

starbucks-logo.gifstarbucks-logo.gifSo like many other Starbucks’ customers I was pleased to hear about the Skinny Platform, introduced this January. The Skinny Platform is comprised of three nonfat lattes made with sugar-free syrup. The perk is easy ordering for customers wanting to skip the extra calories.

mary-kate.jpgWhile wishing I had a latte on my early morning commute, I got to thinking about the Skinny Platform. Something  about “skinny” being used for a food product bothered me. I couldn’t help but picture tabloid magazines labeling high-profile celebrities as “super skinny,” with a chilling photo of a frail, young celebrity. Remember the Mary-Kate Olsen eating disorder days?

Is there a better name Starbucks could have chosen other than “skinny?” My brainstorming didn’t bring me to anything much better, but hey, I’m a student and Starbucks probably dishes out the big bucks for experienced PR people. I’m sure they there are some really creative minds somewhere in the mix.            

Most people overlooked the Skinny thing—a few remarks on blogs here and there. One angry barista gave her opinion on the Skinny Platform. She says that, “Without question, people will be leaping at the opportunity to file a lawsuit against the Starbucks Corporation for discrimination.” A month has passed since the Skinny took the spotlight and I couldn’t find any lawsuits as of yet.

 I don’t like the Skinny Platform, but I won’t lose sleep over it, and I won’t jump on the Starbucks-hating bandwagon.

So if I am:

  • Mildly offended by the Skinny Platform
  • Too poor to buy Starbucks
  • Too busy to stop and order it 

Why will I continue to drink it? 

I will continue to drink it because Starbucks does a good job of catering to its customers. Starbucks gave me free music downloads this fall.  The baristas never mess up my drinks. It offers nonfat options and a cozy atmosphere.

And you know what? The employees are really, genuinely nice to me.  It goes to show how Starbucks has done a good job of establishing relationships with its customers. It is allowed to make me a little angry, and I’ll keep going back.

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