The Leukemia Society of America hired E. James White in Herndon, Va., to promote the charity's primary fundraiser, the "Team in Training" marathon program.
Although the project's budget is not disclosed, industry sources estimated spending at around $1 million.
"In the dog-eat-dog world of advertising, it's one of those nice [assignments]," said E. James White president Matt White. "It's really a great cause."
The Leukemia Society's Team in Training is a marathon and cycling program in which participants are matched with a leukemia patient for whom they will walk, run or cycle in order to raise funds. The program raised $26.7 million for the New York-based organization in 1997 and hopes to generate $35 million in 1998.
There was no formal review for the project. Rather, E. James White has a prior relationship with the Leukemia Society's new senior vice president of marketing and strategic development, Bob Wehrman. Wehrman was formerly vice president of marketing and sales with Amtrak, an E. James White client.
E. James White broke a test advertising campaign for Team in Training last week in Baltimore. The effort consists of print, radio and outdoor media, plus a direct mail effort. A "good portion" of the media expenditures are donated, the agency said.
"Why do you run marathons? For the glory, or something bigger?" asks copy in one print execution. The ad goes on to point out that leukemia is the No. 1 disease killer of children.
Other organizations have also targeted runners in their fundraising efforts. For example, the Arthritis Foundation in Atlanta has a similar program dubbed "Joints in Motion."
Separately, E. James White is opening an office in San Francisco next month to serve clients Sybase and Scottish Trade International, as well as travel accounts.