Erwin-Penland Personalizes United Way Stories

ATLANTA Erwin-Penland looks to make personal connections in its latest reality-based campaign for the United Way.

The Greenville, S.C., shop said that this year’s campaign needed a “greater sense of urgency and a fresh approach.” Creatives took to the streets of Greenville County to put faces with the stories that have been told in previous campaigns.

“Instead of illustrating United Way success stories, as we’ve done the past seven years, we decided to directly showcase real-life problems people in the community are experiencing every day,” said agency associate creative director Joe Gilman.

The pro bono campaign, titled “If it didn’t matter, we wouldn’t ask,” includes a public service announcement that runs on local TV stations such as WHNS, WSPA and WSBC. It presents the true story of Farren, an independent laborer in Greenville, who has no health insurance and whose family has suffered chronic diseases and tragic accidents.

The ad includes a voiceover by Farren, describing the life-altering events, such as his daughter’s death in an automobile accident that prompted him to reach out to the United Way. Portions of Farren’s account and other true stories are also featured on an E-P 6.5-minute video that will be distributed to Greenville corporations.

Posters have been sent to local factories and offices, along with videos for use in corporate fundraising initiatives, according to the agency. “Don’t feel like giving?” asks one poster. “Imagine feeling like you’re ready to give up.” The copy accompanies a photo of Eve, the daughter of a schizophrenic who became homeless at age 13.

“It is important to give a stark reminder of what is happening in our community,” said Gilman.

E-P will continue its efforts to raise awareness and funds for the United Way with a guerilla marketing campaign that sources said will launch within the next two weeks. In addition, radio spots will run on local stations and print ads will appear in local newspapers.

“We plan to put posters up all over town to extend the impact of the program,” said E-P junior account executive Kelly Dumit. “The idea is to get people talking about the United Way inside and outside the office.”