Save Matt: Philips and the American Heart Association

PR-supported cause-related marketing

It’s probably fair to say that more cause-related marketing campaigns are supported by public relations than by advertising.

This is a sophisticated audience so there’s no need to detail the differences between advertising and public relations. Suffice it to say that while PR has greater credibility, it’s challenging to get the frequency using PR alone that you can get with advertising. Advertising offers frequency, but it can certainly be expensive and it’s less credible than PR.

Illustrated is an example of PR-supported cause-related marketing undertaken by RoyalPhilips Electronics to promote products like their OnSite Heart Defibrillator at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Park City is very easy to get to and has a number of charms besides natural beauty and first-rate skiing. And so the Festival draws a lot of celebrities and a fairly chi-chi crowd. As a result when you watch Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood or any of the other entertainment news programs chances are that during the run of Festival, it’s a lead-pipe cinch that many of those shows originate from Park City.

As a result of the celebrities, the media attention, and the crowds, Sundance has become a promotional vehicle.

And so Philips along with other companies has established a presence in Park City for length of the Festival. The $41-billion (sales) Dutch giant has a drop-in location called The Philips Simplicity Lounge, where you can ogle their wares, including their lineup of home defibrillators.

While there’s plenty of national and international press at the Festival, there’s also plenty of competition vying for their attention. In a crowded marketplace how do you stand out? Philips is using PR supported cause-related marketing.

Their campaign, called “Save Matt” brings celebrities into the Simplicity Lounge to demo their home defibrillators on a “paper mannequin training mat.” After the demo, the dressed-in-black celebs, are asked to sign Matt the mat, which will subsequently be auctioned off on eBay for the benefit of the American Heart Association. In addition, Philips will also make a donation of $20,000 to the AHA.

I saw notice of the campaign in the hometown newspaper buried on page B-7 next to the obituaries. Needless to say Philips is hoping for better press coverage than that.

To do better their best bet is to work their strategy. They need to be snapping pictures every time a celebrity signs Matt and release those photos with a caption. There’s a lot of paparazzi at the Festival who will follow the right celebrity into locations like the Simplicity Lounge. So someone on the Philips staff with a lot of personality and persistence needs to be pulling celebs into the lounge.

The defibrillators are meant as a first-response to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Chances are there are celebrities at the Festival whose life has been touched by SCA. They need to find those celebrities and get them to the Simplicity Lounge. For the price of a defibrillator (about $1,270 at Sam’s Club, Staples, Walgreen, etc.) they could probably get that celeb to speak about their experience at a press conference.

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