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Agrimarketing : October 2007
While it's hard to define "typi- cal" work for an advertising agency today, a general expla- nation might include "producing compelling messages on behalf of clients." At Martin|Williams Advertising (M|W), staff members in all departments are well practiced at putting their skills to work for clients including Syngenta, Pfizer, Cargill and others. Recently, however, the agency had an opportunity to craft a differ- ent kind of persuasive message. The end goal in this case, rather than increasing sales or market share, was a brand new home for a family of ten, courtesy of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The project has left agency staff with a new appreciation for what their capabilities can produce, and demonstrates the impact that mar- keting professionals can have in their communities. TRAGEDY HITS A FAMILY Minnesotans were shocked last fall by the murder of Teri Lee, a mother of four, at the hands of an abusive ex-boyfriend. Sadly, Teri's husband had died in an auto accident in 2001, and upon Teri's death the couple's children became orphans. Teri's sis- ter and brother-in-law, Vicki and Erik Swenson, adopted the Lee chil- dren, ages five to eleven. With the Swenson's own three children, the new family numbered nine. The close-knit brood was doing its best to heal together, but the Swensons worried that their 3-bed- room, 21/2-bath home might burst at the seams from the suddenly expanded family and had few options on one teacher 's salary. Fortunately, the family had a car- ing community supporting them. Both Vicki and Erik were teachers and coaches at Hopkins High School. Vicki left teaching after the birth of the couple's twins, but Erik remained at the school where stu- dents and staff ral- lied around the Swenson-Lee clan. Also part of the Hopkins High community was former Administrative Assistant Nancy Gray, wife of M|W Pres/CMO Mike Gray. When a for- mer teacher at the school and friend of the Swensons told Nancy that some students had shot a video for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," Nancy had an idea of how they might be able get the tape in the right hands. "I KNEW IT HAD A CHANCE" "I don't usually ask Mike for these kinds of things," said Nancy. But ultimately, Gray decided to ask her husband if the agency could offer any assistance. Mike Gray didn't hesitate. "We should just try something," he recalls. Gray knew the resources the agency had at its disposal, and knew that his team could somehow lend a hand. His first step was to call Betsy Burgeson, Dir of Broadcast Media at the agency. "Mike asked if I had any contacts at ABC," said Burgeson. "I started with my salesperson in Chicago, but he was very cautious because they get calls like this all the time. He said, 'You need to be warned. This probably won't happen,'" she recalls. "But having watched the show, I knew it had a chance." Burgeson's contact provided her with a phone number to one of the show's producers, which she relayed to Gray. Once Gray reached the pro- ducer on the phone, the family's story proved to be as compelling to him as Gray had hoped. "He shut his door after Mike started telling the story and asked him to start over," Burgeson said. "He was definitely engaged." The producer told Gray that the story sounded worthy of further consideration, and requested addi- tional footage to supplement the stu- dents' submission. The catch: the program was making its selections for the 2006-2007 season the next day. The new material needed to be delivered in 24 hours. FAST TURNAROUND Undaunted, the Grays contacted the Swensons to coordinate the action that would need to take place during the next 24 hours. Gray then asked Account Planning Dir Sandy Willats 54 AgriMarketing October 2007 MARTIN | WILLIAMS PITCHES IN FOR AN 'EXTREME'- LY GOOD CAUSE by Kate Her, Karwoski & Courage Public Relations Vicki and Erik Swenson adopted her sister's children after their mother's tragic death. The 5,600 square foot home built for them by ABC's Extreme Makeover is twice the size of their former home.
November December 2006
November December 2007