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Providing for People in a Post-September 11th World: The American Red Cross Together We Prepare Television Public Service Advertising Campaign

Creative & Media Agency On Record: The Nerve Agency – Portland, OR

Few public service advertising campaigns truly impact the way Americans think, feel and live day to day. Together We Prepare-the American Red Cross national brand campaign, did just that. It remains one of the most successful public service advertising campaigns in American Red Cross history.

Landscape of a New Era
After the national tragedy of September 11th, in the midst of a down-turned economy and in the wake of corporate scandals such as Enron, MCI-WorldCom and Martha Stewart, trust levels in institutions suffered greatly. Philanthropic giving was adversely affected across the nonprofit sector. The American Red Cross, the nation’s oldest humanitarian organization, reached out, taking the pulse of an anxious society, and developed a campaign to soothe fears and empower the public.

The Campaign
The Together We Prepare campaign focused on public safety and emergency preparedness, using a straightforward, informational approach that showed five simple steps to get prepared for the unexpected: Make a Family Emergency Plan, Build an Emergency Supplies Kit, Give Blood, Volunteer, and Donate Money.

Together We Prepare served as a springboard for national action when the American public needed guidance and reassurance. It empowered Americans during uncertain times while simultaneously restoring faith in one of the nation’s most historic and renowned organizations.

In March 2003 the campaign launched in a perfect storm of timing, credibility and coordination. The launch coincided with the Department of Homeland Security’s “Get Ready” campaign as well as Red Cross Month. It also coordinated with the inclusion of “The Most Useful Book in the World”, a Red Cross guide to emergency preparedness, in Time Magazine. National advertising was also complemented by an aggressive earned media effort.

The Creative
Post-September 11th research indicated that individuals who were not supporters of the American Red Cross generally associated the organization only with times of disaster and distress, and did not feel that the American Red Cross had invited them to join in the activities of the organization, but showed a strong predisposition toward participation in a meaningful movement.

To maximize the potential of all these opportunities, Together We Prepare did 3 things. First, it used the “we” from the organization’s slogan, Together, we can save a life as a springboard into new relevance with new audiences. Second, it targeted people ages 25-54, though never alienating the traditionally older American Red Cross supporters or the rest of the general public. Finally, it encompassed the wide range of services the organization provides in addition to disaster response and relief, such as lifesaving skills training, support for the armed forces and their families, and everyday instruction about home safety and emergency preparedness.

TV Commercials:

Pay It Forward

Split Images


Media Placement
The media embraced Together We Prepare. The television PSAs were distributed to 1,048 broadcast affiliate television stations across the country. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) made “Pay It Forward” available through its membership publication and American Red Cross field units alone placed an estimated $834,799 in donated media. Additionally, 550 cable television stations received the PSAs. National and cable networks including CNN, CNN Headline News, CNBC, ABC, NBC and CBS all reported public service airs.

The message of Together We Prepare landed squarely “on the radar screen” of the American public. In a quarterly poll, 29% percent of respondents recalled seeing a television ad for the American Red Cross. Together We Prepare took a cutting edge approach to public service advertising and made a critical first step in reviving America’s faith in the American Red Cross as a partner to the public in a new and challenging era. Together We Prepare advertising offered a snapshot demonstration of the Red Cross’ steadfast commitment to the American public, in a new and ever-changing world. Its success continues today.

The Advertising Educational Foundation is grateful to
the American Red Cross for their support and permission to share this
case history with users.


American Red Cross

Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved.

Case Histories

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