Adoption Cause Marketing at Wendy's

A visit to a Wendy’s in Mesa, Arizona early in January 2011 turned up this handbill for AASK-Arizona, an affiliate for the Wendy’s adoption program called Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in metropolitan Phoenix.

AASK stands for Aid to Adoption of Special Kids. The handbill was positioned on a counter near one of the doorways.

I like the front of the handbill. The four pictures of smiling Casey drew me in. But the copy on the back struck me as unpersuasive. See if you agree.

The first paragraph describes Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, an effort by Wendy’s to increase adoptions out of America’s foster care system.

The second paragraph describes that AASK as the affiliate of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in Maricopa County, basically the greater Phoenix region.

So far, so good. The third paragraph is where I think the copy begins to lose its way:
“Through valuable media partnerships, including Wednesday’s Child, AASK is able to touch the hearts of thousands of potential parents annually.”
Wednesday’s Child is a weekly public service program that runs on local television stations in a number of markets in the United States and showcases kids up for adoption. So invoking Wednesday’s Child is kind of appeal to authority. Nothing wrong with that so long as Wednesday’s Child is respected in Arizona.

But it’s the second clause in that sentence that jumps out at me. Can “touching the hearts of thousands of potential parents annually” really be AASK’s goal?

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids stated goal is to increase the number of adoptive parents. Since AASK is an affiliate, you’d expect that their missions line up to some degree. But touching the hearts of parents is really just a means to an end.

Wouldn’t it be far better to cite the number of adoptive parents that AASK has helped? Or, if that number is relatively small, wouldn’t it be better to cite the number of parents in Arizona who have adopted special needs kids? Adoption probably seems like a hurdle to a lot of the people who might consider it. But if thousands of Arizonans are adopting special needs kids out of foster care, well then that’s a sign that maybe adoption isn’t as daunting as it might seem.

The fourth paragraph is no more persuasive.
“With its dedicated staff and commitment to placing more children, AASK is uniquely qualified to ensure that more of Arizona’s foster children have a safe home and a loving family.”
My bet is that AASK has competitors who would also claim to have dedicated staffs and a commitment to placing more children. So unique isn’t the right word. But AASK has been in business since 1988, which is no small feat. Charities that can’t fulfill their missions or make their cases to supporters don’t usually last 23 years.

The copy could also certainly back-reference Casey. We could learn more about what makes him special. Maybe he was adopted and his new parents could be quoted as saying how rewarding it is to have Casey in their family.

As tactical as all this sounds, Wendy’s has a strategic stake in all this. The AASK is Wendy’s Wonderful Kids partner in Arizona's largest market, and Wendy’s does the AASK a disservice by not helping make even a simple handbill as persuasive as it can be.

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