Each year, teachers spend more than $1 billion of their own money on school supplies. From books to technology and music, teachers bring learning to life every day and SONIC believes in them. Since 2009, SONIC has served as an advocate for teachers in local communities through its Limeades for Learning campaign. The campaign is a national philanthropic initiative in partnership with DonorsChoose.org providing public school teachers with essential funds to continue inspiring creativity and learning in classrooms across the country. As of May 2017, SONIC has donated $8.5MM to public school teachers, funding more than 14,000 projects and supporting more than 419,000 students.
SONIC looked to Cohn & Wolfe to serve as the lead agency and content developer for the program. The objective was to empower consumers to take action and show their support for teachers, develop engaging online content, drive traffic to LimeadesforLearning.com, and create a campaign that would secure top-tier national media coverage.
Through market and internal research, Cohn & Wolfe and SONIC discovered everyone has one teacher who made a difference in their lives and remember fondly. This insight led us to our campaign - #ThanksTeach.
To encourage participation, we incorporated a sharing initiative: for every ReTweet, share or unique content created that included the hashtag (#ThanksTeach), SONIC donated to Limeades for Learning, contributing $1 million during the month of May to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Month.
Limeades for Learning's second annual 2017 #ThanksTeach campaign launched on May 1 and the team leveraged internal and external spokespeople to communicate the brand's signature philanthropic campaign. Our spokespeople encouraged consumers to give public school teachers across the country the thanks they deserve through use of the hashtag #ThanksTeach, encouraging participation by tying social shares to donations throughout the month of May.
In order to secure top-tier media interest and expand our media opportunities, Cohn & Wolfe coordinated interviews for internal and external spokespeople to highlight key messaging, drive awareness and ultimately secure media coverage. By including an external celebrity spokesperson, Julianne Hough, Cohn & Wolfe expanded SONIC's coverage opportunities beyond just food, business, education and trade into consumer lifestyle and entertainment publications.
Hough launched the #ThanksTeach initiative, and spoke about a teacher who personally contributed to her success connecting directly back to the campaign's key messages. We were able to leverage Julianne Hough for entertainment, lifestyle and top-tier consumer media opportunities. The Cohn & Wolfe team was also responsible for writing and producing a campaign video with Hough that was used across SONIC's social channels, as well as on a NASDAQ billboard in the media center of the world – Times Square.
The Cohn & Wolfe team also created the campaign's social content designed to connect with our millennial target audience, including static social and video content across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as all messaging for media engagement. In addition to digital content, the team drafted and distributed a national press release and conducted targeted outreach to key national and trade media.
Finally, Cohn & Wolfe worked with SONIC PR to coordinate flash fundings (immediate funding of entire teacher projects) in key markets such as Denver, Colo; Las Vegas, Nev; Lubbock, Texas, Panama City, Fla., Omaha, Neb. and many more, funding $1 million to teacher projects across the US.
Tying social participation to donations encouraged consumer engagement and instilled an emotional connection to the campaign, securing more than 106 million potential impressions on Twitter and 100 percent positive sentiment.
Leveraging internal and external spokespeople, as well as our consumer call-to-action resulted in a 128 percent increase in aided awareness about Limeades for Learning, 316 media placements which garnered more than 536 million earned media impressions.
Within the month of May, #ThanksTeach helped SONIC facilitate $1 million in funding to local public school teachers in need across the country.
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