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VERIZON LITERACY CHAMPIONS
PUBLIC AFFAIRS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Verizon wanted to create a high profile publicity campaign to help create greater awareness for the company’s commitment to the cause of literacy. A ‘Literacy Champion’ program was conceived and developed to feature celebrity spokespersons who donate their time and image to help the cause and contribute to the public relations goals. The program was executed through community campaigns featuring a wide diversity of celebrities, using marketing materials such as posters, bookmarks, newspaper ads and Public Service Announcements. Celebrity spokespersons promoted literacy through large-scale charity venues, book drives, sporting events and community events. Each celebrity campaign benefited a key strategic community partner organization both locally and on a national scale.
Celebrity spokespersons included New York Giants NFL Player Tiki Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL Player Ronde Barber, 7 Time Grammy Award Winning Jazz and Crossover Legend Al Jarreau, Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, U.S.A. Luge Team, Television Game Show Host and Actress Vanna White, Award winning Actor Sean Astin, Dallas Cowboys NFL Player and Fox Sports Commentator Daryl Johnston, Entrepreneur and Founder of ‘Famous Amos’ Chocolate Chip Cookies Wally Amos, Zoo Director and World Renowned Animal Trainer Jack Hanna, Los Angeles Lakers NBA Player Kobe Bryant, Former Major League Baseball Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.
Product Placement & Brand Recognition
- Leveraged campaign promotional vehicles to position Verizon product and service affinity marketing offers through inserts in nationally-recognized newspapers including New York Daily News, The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Tampa Tribune and Honolulu Advertiser, representing 6.13 million in distribution.
- Leveraged appeal and draw of Al Jarreau to drive consumer traffic to Verizon Wireless retail store. This corporate social responsibility platform resulted in media coverage among all major broadcast, radio and print outlets, and significantly boosted sales for highly competitive retail location.
- Promoted through traditional public relations.
- Marketing support included the design and production of posters, bookmarks, bookplates, specialty items, significant Web presence, etc.
- Featured on programs like Fox and Friends morning show and Good Day New York, Ronde and Tiki Barber have carried the literacy message and Verizon’s CSR commitment to a national audience.
- Brokered celebrity relationships with legendary jazz musician Al Jarreau and NFL stars and twin brothers Ronde and Tiki Barber.
- Managed the development of relationships with television personality Vanna White, WNBA player Chamique Holdsclaw and world-renowned animal trainer Jack Hanna.
- Leveraged additional opportunities through the celebrity’s professional relationships. For example, developed partnership with Verve Records to promote literacy on the CD cover of Al Jarreau’s recent album All I Got. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the record sales are donated to Verizon Reads. To date, more than $25,000 has been donated.
Event Development & Management
- Managed the development and oversight of 200 annual community events, with more than half featuring live appearances by celebrity spokespersons.
- Instituted an organized effort to recruit celebrity spokespersons to reflect communities served, specifically Asian, African-American and Hispanic demographics.
- Broadened scope of campaign from primarily sports-based celebrities to appeal to larger demographics.
- Positioned celebrities to impact beyond their traditional roles of media spokespersons and community event special guests to motivate and encourage company employees to participate and contribute to community efforts.
- Hosted a volunteer fair to benefit 20+ literacy organizations serving thousands of New Yorkers in need by enlisting the aid of celebrities, key community leaders including the New York Mayor’s office, corporate executives and employees. Fair featured the distribution of $1 million dollars in literacy grants.
Leadership Management & Communications
- Provided venues for celebrity and executive interaction and involvement at more than 50 events yearly.
- Prepared celebrities and executives for media opportunities and managed development of key messages for event scripts.