Celebrities, topical humor, a simple, yet distinctive trademark—the inaugural United States debut of Red Nose Day offered a few lessons in exposure, as well as plenty of strategies to which nonprofits should pay attention. The giving day event, organized and ran by the group Comedic Relief U.K. for the past 30 years, raised more than $21 million for children and young people living in poverty. How exactly did the first “Red Nose Day U.S.A.” leverage its impressive roster of supporting stars and amusing events to raise an extraordinary amount of money for reputable partner charities like United Way and OxFam?
In addition to star power, Red Nose Day employed a winning, multi-channel strategy for exposure. On May 21, 2015, the day of the three-hour, celebrity-studded variety show on NBC, #RedNoseDay became a top trend on Twitter, with droves of supporters posting selfies sporting the trademark red nose. Walgreens, Red Nose Day supporter and official purveyor of the round rubber noses, also enlisted a fleet of improv singers to pose as cashiers at their major locations.
Walgreens’ smart use of guerilla marketing coupled with the event’s simple, consistent branding created a viral social media campaign that translated into today’s most effective form of free advertising—and led to a remarkable giving day success.
While some felt the telethon was too contrived and The Ice Bucket Challenge is still the main star in the social channel space, there are definitely lessons to learn from this event. We are already working on how to bring more of this guerilla style marketing into Give Local America, which raised $68 million on May 5.
What did you think of the first U.S. Red Nose Day telethon? What can be improved for next year’s event? In addition to guerilla marketing and social media—the two areas in which the event shined—what other best practices could organizers have implemented to yield even bigger results?