Starcom MediaVest Group's Spark has entered into a new client relationship with Children’s Miracle Network (CMN Hospitals) to provide pro-bono services for its fundraising initiatives, including the development of media plans to support the charitable organization’s various campaigns.
"Two of our clients, Dairy Queen and Ace Hardware, have been heavily involved with CMN Hospitals and when we saw how passionate they were about the cause, we decided to approach CMN Hospitals about working with them," says Harold Dawson, Spark EVP, managing director. "There is a lot of passion internally about helping children, especially because children represent the future for all of us."
"About 18 months ago, we really increased our pro-bono efforts after we identified how important and appealing these activities are to millennials," says Dawson. "We have always done things, such as with the Art Institute of Chicago and through support of the Off the Street Club. But we realized that we could do more. Millennials make up a good percentage of our workforce and tell us how important it is to them to give back to the community and have purpose with their jobs. They want to do things that resonate and this is one area that makes a difference."
First up, Spark is raising awareness for the charity's annual Extra Life program. Launched in 2008, Extra Life is a 24-hour video game marathon people sign up to participate in to raise money for local children’s hospitals. Each person that participates works to sign on sponsors who pledge to donate a set dollar amount for every hour that person plays. All money raised goes to support each participant’s local CMN Hospital.
In addition to general media awareness, Spark has approached its clients to leverage their channels and has put together SparkSMG Extra Life, a team of dedicated gamers to participate in this year’s Extra-Life Marathon, which takes place October 25.
"As a digital agency, we have people in that field who are passionate about gaming, and we could look to them to lend their support," says Susan Viti, Strategy Director, Spark.
Already, Spark is having an impact. CMN Hospitals averaged 100 to 150 sign-ups per day for this marathon last year, but after the first week with Spark, it is attracting 500 sign-ups per day. More on the Extra-Life Gaming Marathon effort can be found here.