Christopher Reeve Foundation Goes Forward with Multimedia Campaign

It’s not often a charity has a much-anticipated movie opening to help promote its cause. But if that scenario suits any organization, it’s The Christopher Reeve Foundation. The group is hoping the soon-to-open Superman flick, “Superman Returns,” which is dedicated to the late Christopher and Dana Reeve, together with a new Web site, will give a jolt to its Superman Tag campaign.

“This is a way for people to really pay tribute to Christopher Reeve and his legacy,” suggested Christopher Reeve Foundation VP of Public Relations Maggie Goldberg. The group is selling dog tags adorned with the official Superman S-Shield logo and the slogan, “Go Forward.” All proceeds go to support the foundation’s work in finding treatments and cures for paralysis.

The goal of the campaign is both to raise awareness of the organization and sell the tags, which come in sets of two. “We’re hoping people will tag each other,” Goldberg said, explaining people can bestow tags on others they would like to honor. “We’re hoping the Superman Tag campaign can do for the Christopher Reeve Foundation what the Livestrong bracelet campaign has done for the Lance Armstrong Foundation,” she added.

The tags feature prominently within a series of display ads created on a pro bono basis by Euro RSCG 4D. The marketing communications agency also donated its efforts in creating the new site. Visitors to the site can link to purchase tags, view images of celebrities sporting them, read tales about people who have overcome problems of living with spinal cord injuries, and download the ads to place on their own sites.

In creating the ads, Euro RSCG aimed for simplicity. “Similar to the Amazon [Associates affiliate program] model, we needed to make sure the technology wouldn’t get in the way of anybody who wanted to host it,” stressed the agency’s Creative Director John Steward.

Clean, spare design was also important for the site. When it comes to pro bono work, commented Steward, “There’s always a tendency to force upon a client an experimental UI (define),” because agencies rarely get the chance to do so for paying clients. “We didn’t want to fall into that trap,” he continued. Instead, the agency steered clear of complicated site navigation, opting to make it as “simple for the user as possible.” Information technology services Miles Technologies is donating hosting services for the site.

According to Goldberg, health sites HealthOrbit and will be running banners on their sites. The foundation is also in talks with major Web portals about running the ads.

The organization has solicited the advice of several WOM marketers to help develop viral components, such as telling bloggers about the campaign in the hopes they’ll post about it. A MySpace page dedicated to the effort may also spur buzz.

In addition, 15- and 30-second PSA spots are set to run in Cine Media network theaters preceding screenings of Superman Returns, which opens nationwide June 28.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Comics have agreed to allow the foundation to use the S-Shield and Superman names royalty-free until February 2008, at which time the group will end the campaign. The Warner Bros. e-commerce site is official seller of the tags, which go for $10 per pair; the group has collected just under $100,000 from tag sales thus far.

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