The Cycle

PRWeek Awards - Best Use of Broadcast

The NewsMarket and George Clooney: George Clooney in Sudan

In April 2006, genocide was escalating in Sudan’s Darfur region, with estimates of several hundred thousand people killed and more than a million displaced. But the situation had been overshadowed by crises in other parts of the world, and media – let alone average citizens – were not fully aware of the ongoing atrocities.

Prior to a planned April 29, 2005, awareness- and action-generating rally in DC, actor George Clooney and his father, journalist Nick Clooney, planned a self-supported trip to the African desert region. They sought to capture footage, images, sites, and voices of Darfur refugees and make them heard by social activists and political figures around the globe.

The Clooneys partnered with The NewsMarket to make this goal come to fruition. Working on a tight deadline, the Clooneys smuggled cameras into refugee camps and other difficult-to-access areas to secure as much raw footage as possible. They then rushed to get the video safely out of the country – all while attempting to remain as discreet and undercover as an Oscar-winning actor and associates can.

On April 26, within 24 hours of getting the footage, The NewsMarket distributed edited tape for exclusive, prearranged media airings, each meant to drive coverage for increased situation awareness, rally participation, and further response; the campaign launched with segments on Oprah, Anderson Cooper 360, and Today. The next day, The NewsMarket published the Clooneys’ Darfur content on a searchable Web-based video platform and sent an e-mail alert to hundreds of media outlets across the globe. Within hours, “every major global network had downloaded and gone to air with video,” said The NewsMarket. The firm released a second piece focused on the DC rally and continued to update the Web footage so media could easily access content.

By April 29, the day of the rally, the Clooneys and The NewsMarket had garnered enough media attention to draw more than 15,000 people – more than three times the expected turnout. Overall, the campaign generated coverage by 80 media outlets in 25 countries.

Though this was hardly a traditional PR effort – and The NewsMarket is not a traditional PR firm – judges agreed that this “displayed superior use of broadcast capabilities to increase awareness of a significant global issue.” It certainly didn’t hurt that George Clooney was involved.

Honorable Mention
Coyne PR and Disney Parks: Happiest Turkey on Earth

Coyne leveraged the president’s annual pardoning of a Thanksgiving turkey to build on Disneyland’s 50th anniversary efforts. On November 22, 2005, the park issued a VNR that included the ceremony, police escorting the turkey from the White House to Dulles Airport, the turkey boarding a United Airlines plane, and the flight crew delivering the “We’re going to Disneyland!” tagline. A second VNR on Thanksgiving Day included 50th-anniversary messaging and footage of the turkey serving as grand marshall of its yearly parade. The turkey was then retired to Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch. In all, there were nearly 1,300 broadcast hits. President Bush also mentioned Disneyland twice in his fowl-pardoning speech. Both the American Turkey Federation and PETA endorsed the turkey’s holiday plans.

Honorable Mention
Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Screening Saves Lives: Building Awareness.Engaging Communities. Leveraging Partners

Since 1999, Ogilvy PR has worked with the CDC to raise awareness of preventative colorectal cancer screenings. But the campaign needed new life. So Ogilvy built relationships with the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to create “The Picture of Health.” Celebrities like Katie Couric and Morgan Freeman, both with personal ties to colorectal cancer, boosted credibility and exposure. Along with TV and magazine placement, 3,000-plus Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Sears stores aired the PSAs, and print-adapted versions were featured in some major airports. Total PSA impressions garnered in 2005-06 were up by more than 65% from the previous campaign year.

Finalists 2007

  • Coyne PR and Disney Parks: Happiest Turkey on Earth
  • Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Screening Saves Lives: Building Awareness. Engaging Communities. Leveraging Partners
  • The NewsMarket and George Clooney: George Clooney in Sudan
  • Weber Shandwick and KFC: KFC Buffalo Snacker
  • Weber Shandwick and Sealed Air Corp.: Making a Household Name “Pop”!

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