Plan It Day New York: How The Doe Fund, Ad Council, xAd and more will change the world in a day

At The Drum’s second annual Plan It Day in New York City, dozens of creatives, strategists and other advertising professionals came together to tackle social good challenges presented by brands including the Ad Council, The Doe Fund, xAd, Amnesty International USA and Accion.

To kick off the day, each brand presented Plan It Day participants with their briefs, which all aim to make the world a better place in some way, shape or form. Participants were then broken up into teams and were tasked with coming up with creative solutions to these briefs, which relate to issues including domestic violence, recidivism and the ongoing refugee crisis.

After a long day of brainstorming and collaborating, all teams pitched their ideas to their respective brand challenge partners. The brands then chose the winning ideas, which will be executed at Do It Day on November 10 at Decoded’s offices in New York City.

Ad Council

For more than 70 years, the Ad Council has been working with some of the country’s most influential nonprofits and governmental organizations to spread important social good messages. While the organization is behind some of the country’s most iconic campaigns, like Smokey Bear’s “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires,” “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk,” and “Love Has No Labels,” it is challenging Do It Day participants to create a program that will galvanize the next generation of advertising professionals to get involved with the Ad Council.

At Plan It Day, two teams worked on the Ad Council challenge, with one team coming up a with campaign idea called “Here for Good” that would coincide with the organization’s upcoming 75th anniversary. The campaign would include video clips from some of the country’s top creatives who have worked on the Ad Council’s most iconic campaigns through the years as they pledge that they are “here for good,” inspiring younger generations to get involved and make the pledge as well. The second team came up the idea of putting together an Ad Council "collective" that would be made up of young agency staffers who might want to get involved with the organization’s pro bono campaigns but aren’t senior enough to spearhead the briefs themselves.

Lina Renzina, a member of the Ad Council’s social media and public relations team, chose “Here for Good” as the winning campaign since it already aligns with some of the nonprofits other initiatives, like its “Champion for Good” series that spotlights industry individuals for their commitment to social good and its “Creators for Good” group comprised of social influencers.

“I think what really sealed the deal is when they said ‘Here for Good,’” she said. “That could even be our new tagline. We have so many amazing initiatives and we use ‘for good’ a lot, so I think that ‘Here for Good’ encompasses the action of what those groups are doing.”

At Do It Day, the winning team will have the opportunity to lay out the groundwork for this campaign.

Winning Team: Aaron Stephenson – The Partners, Colin Campbell – Rapp, Sharon Howard-Butler – The Bloc, Julie Brau - Rapp, Mariella Vargas - Rapp

Accion

As a global nonprofit, Accion works to provide financial services to the billions of people in the world who lack a secure way to save and transfer money. The organization is asking Do It Day participants to create a campaign that will raise awareness of this issue – and make people realize that is a solvable problem.

During Plan It Day, both teams working on the Accion challenge wanted to find a way to make the issue relatable to young people, although each team approached it in a different way. The first team decided to pitch a people-to-people campaign that would focus on showing how financial services can impact a person’s life and help he or she do something that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. The second team came up with the idea of targeting entrepreneurially-minded millennials through a “financial heroes” initiative that would showcase how people have benefited from Accion’s services.

Jim Rosenberg, Accion’s chief communications officer, said he chose the first team’s idea as the winner since it is people-focused and has the potential to illustrate how a wide variety of individuals can benefit from what the organization does.

“We chose the winning group for a couple of reasons,” he said. “First, they started with the overarching idea that Accion is about people and that financial service is about people. For example, for a broad audience, having a video campaign where people talk about what financial inclusion means to them, that would work on a lot of different levels in a lot of different markets. It would be interesting to see the answer you’d get from a farmer in rural southern India versus someone in Brooklyn who has just finished their grocery shopping for the day.”

Winning Team: Betty Lai - SYZYGY, Adam Tatz - Rapp, Emma Borochoff - Bizzabo, Cecile Barrault - Rapp

The Doe Fund

Through its Ready, Willing & Able program, The Doe Fund helps homeless and formerly imprisoned men rebuild their lives by providing them with paid transitional work, temporary housing and educational opportunities. While the program already exists in places like New York City and Philadelphia, The Doe Fund is hoping to expand it to even more cities across the country, and came to Plan It Day challenging its teams to create a tool or initiative that will demonstrate to US mayors why Ready Willing & Able can be an incredible asset to their cities.

The first team working on The Doe Fund challenge wanted to create something tangible that would literally show mayors the positive impact that Ready Willing & Able can have on a city. They landed on a concept that would use four key measures – such as poverty rate, number of people in prison, violent crime statistics, and percentage of tax spent on those issues – to show mayors how Ready Willing & Able can help reduce these measures once implemented. For example, they could show how New York City has benefited from the program over the past ten years. The second team came up with an idea focused around capturing the attention of mayors through a hyperlocal search campaign that would target a mayor depending on different keywords related to his or her name, city and more.

The Doe Fund ultimately chosen both teams as winners since each idea helped solve a different part of the challenge, and the two will work together on Do It Day to come up with one cohesive initiative.

Winning Team One: Jiamo Li – BCG, Chris De Souza – SYZYGY, Kim Hollingsworth – Rapp, Nick Clark – The Partners

Winning Team Two: Xavier Thomas – Rapp, Amit Wehle – Cramer-Krasselt, Armando Turco – Redscout, Lisa Gruber – Jack Morton, Nicole Schmidt - Rapp

Amnesty International USA

Since the world is facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, human rights nonprofit Amnesty International USA came to Plan It Day with the challenge of creating something that will change the perception of refugees in the US.

Because many refugees must leave their homes with very little of their belongings, the first team working on the Amnesty challenge came up with a campaign idea focused around the idea of “one bag,” which would encourage Americans to think about what they would take with them if they had to flee their home and could only take one bag with them. Called “One More Thing,” the campaign would also ask refugees what they would have brought with them if they could have taken one more thing with them when they left home. The other team came up with a campaign called "#MoreThanARefugee" that would feature a video series of refugees who discuss their careers, personal lives, accomplishments, and interests to show Americans that they are not only defined by the word “refugee.”

While Amnesty International USA was impressed with both challenges, the organization ultimately went with the first team’s choice since it helps people get into the mindsets of refugees and think about what their experiences must be like.

Winning Team: Scott Grant - Rapp, Charlie Wade - Asos, Jody Sutter - The Sutter Company, Grecia Malave - The Partners, Jennifer Hibbs - Marden-Kane

xAd

As a location-based marketing company, xAd is hoping to harness the power of its technology to provide victims of domestic abuse with a safe and private way of getting help.

The team working on xAd’s challenge came up with the idea of creating a platform called “Umbrella” that would anonymously connect domestic abuse victims with local women in their area who are willing to help. The platform would have both an app and a microsite that women could access to connect with one another, creating a network of community members that can look out for another while providing advice, columns and other resources.

Winning Team: Brandon Beachum – xAd, Dan Warner – xAd, Jessica Meyers – xAd, Julia Wolkoff – xAd, Leah Press – xAd, UnSun Lee – xAd, Patricia Brinkmann – Sid Lee, Gracie Halpern – Sid Lee

Read about Plan It Day London, which took place in September, here.

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