Salvation Army Kettle Drive Kickoff During the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day Game

The Salvation Army USA, in conjunction with the Dallas Cowboys, Fox Sports, and the National Football League, kicked off its annual kettle drive with a performance by country music star Keith Urban during halftime of the Cowboys – New Orleans Saints game held yesterday, Thanksgiving Day 2010.

This is the fourteenth year the Salvation Army and the Cowboys have teamed up. Since 1997, the Salvation Army holiday kettle drive has generated $1.3 billion, $139 million last year alone.

I couldn’t find any actual footage yet of the performance, so you’re going to have to trust me for now. But the way the Salvation Army was integrated into the performance itself was more stilted than it should have been. The video footage at left is what we used to call a video news release (VNR) meant to promote the kettle drive kickoff.

Immediately before the Urban halftime concert we see footage of him leaving his travel bus parked in the bowels of Dallas Cowboys Stadium. As he walks the corridors toward the field entrance, he and his entourage pass by a series of factoids about the Salvation Army projected on the wall to Urban’s left. This was all plainly pre-taped.

The director cuts to Urban live just as he’s about to run on to the field. He passes through a phalanx of fans and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, then trots to the 50-yard line where the stage was set. On the back of the stage on both sides, more cheerleaders are preset in what looked like nothing so much as open cages.

The Salvation Army logo was set stage left and right on the front of the stage deck. It could also be seen on the Cowboys ginormous TV screen that hangs in the center of the stadium.

Urban sang one song with no apparent reference to the Salvation Army. Then in the second number, the front of the stage, which was basically a ramp capable of showing video, began to air a series of images, apparently of Salvation Army volunteers and leaders that morphed into the logo.

There was a little more. The halftime guys gave the Salvation Army kettle launch a little context. We also saw a public service announcement (PSA) that Urban recorded encouraging people to donate using their phones. You can see that PSA in the VNR.

I don’t think the Cowboys and Fox did too little. I just think they emphasized the wrong stuff.

Stalin has been wrongly quoted as saying that the “death of millions of people is a statistic. But the death of one person is a tragedy.”

No matter. For my purposes the meaning of the quote is true. Statistics are boring and uninvolving. The stories of individuals are what move us.

The Salvation Army does so many things (and does them so well, I might add), that it’s far easier to communicate the statistics of its work than to communicate the import of it.

Somewhere amidst all that communications and marketing, the Salvation Army, Keith Urban, Fox and the Dallas Cowboys should have figured out a way to tell one full story of one person or one family that has a new lease on life thanks to the Salvation Army.

Finally, I hold the Salvation Army in such high regard that none of this should be taken as a reason not to support this fine organization. The Salvation Army in the United States is a national treasure. So when you hear the familiar kettle ringers, I recommend that you support the Salvation Army as generously as possible.

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