DeVries Public Relations helped Downy Fabric Softener design and execute its first philanthropic effort in the brand’s 50 year history with the inception of the ?Downy Touch of Comfort? program. With the leadership and counsel of DeVries, Downy partnered with Quilts for Kids, Inc. to help create quilts and distribute them to sick children staying in Children’s Miracle Network hospitals across the country with a goal to deliver 10,000 homemade quilts. The effort has garnered widespread admiration and acclaim, including a 2010 Do Good Stamp from Ladies’ Home Journal, the Global P&G REPPIE award for ?Making P&G an Exciting/Inspiring Place to Work?, and helped P&G win a lead customer team’s ?Best in Class Multicultural Merchandising? award stemming from a series of in-store events throughout the country. In 2010, the program drove bottle purchases linked to program donations and exceeded the goal the brand set out to achieve.
The Downy Touch of Comfort program continues to inspire consumers throughout the U.S. and offers them a chance to give the gift of comfort to those in need, and is a best in class example of a cause marketing program that was PR conceived and led, resulting in a holistic program that created mass consumer awareness in all marketing touch points.
While the traditional Downy consumers are women aged 25 –64, this campaign reaches Downy users and non-users. Quilters and aspiring quilters were also targeted for quilt creation.
Strategic Approach and Execution/Tactics
We set the following strategic pillars in place:
•Drive brand value by cultivating a strong emotional connection with consumers and positioning Downy as a brand that goes beyond softening clothes to bring comfort
•Leverage relevant influencers and media
•Drive awareness and purchase of specially marked Downy Touch of Comfort (DTOC) bottle by highlighting the brand’s goal of delivering quilts and comfort to hospitalized children
DeVries discovered partners: Quilts for Kids, Inc. to create quilt kits and distribute to consumers; the Children’s Miracle Network to connect with more than 700 US hospitals; and actress Chandra Wilson as program spokesperson to instill relevance and motivation. To execute the program, we strategically leveraged parent-company owned 2009 People’s Choice Awards where Wilson announced DTOC’s launch. Following that, we:
•Conducted media tours with Chandra Wilson in 2009 and 2010: spreading call to action/ purchase of specially-marked bottle; encouraging consumer involvement
•Developed 2-part media integration with the Martha Stewart Show. Wilson appeared as a guest, and the footage generated ran on a branded site within the show’s site
•Utilized Wilson for an exclusive media tour with Blogger outreach to influential mom and quilting bloggers
•Worked directly with Flow Non-Fiction to develop ?Gift of Comfort? documentary illustrating program’s impact
–Integrated the documentary into Downy.com; aired on various national television shows; and featured on Downy’sYoutubeand Facebookpages
•Executed quilt deliveries in numerous markets, including N.Y.C., Miami, Cincinnati, Tulsa and Charlotte
•Worked directly with P&G customer teams from Sam’s Club and BJ’s to generate employee engagement and incremental merchandising (both top retailers for P&G Fabric Care)
•Formed advertorial partnership with The Quilter magazine and a ?Quilter Challenge? to create as many quilts for children as possible; grassroots outreach through regional quilting festivals nationwide to engage quilters
Consumers supported the program via purchase of specially-marked bottles, which grew base Downy sales.
Media: DTOC generated over 550 million impressions to date. Approximately 99% of placements were branded.
Highlights included: Chandra Wilson featured on numerous national broadcast shows (e.g. The View, Entertainment Tonight, The Wendy Williams Show) 350MM+ million impressions; print placements generated 35MM+ impressions (e.g. Us Weekly, Redbook, Marie Claire); more than 40 local print and television placements and online coverage in more than 1,300 outlets. DTOC garnered 37% more impressions than any other P&G Fabric Care initiative in FY 09/10.
Consumers and brand support have donated over $825,000 for Quilts for Kids (Confidential). The program increased Quilts for Kids’ volunteers by over 11,000 and 300+ quilts were donated via ?Quilter Challenge?. Over 2,000 hospital notes were sent by consumers, including well wishes on Downy.com.
Accolades included the 2010 Do Good Award from Ladies’ Home Journal; the Global P&G REPPIE award for ?Making P&G an Inspiring Place to Work? , and BJ’s ?Best in Class Multicultural Merchandising? award for the U.S. Hispanic Integration Events as result of BJ’s employee events.