In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge became one of the most successful social impact programs in history – educating the masses on the effects of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease) and raising $115 million for research and a cure.
After gaining widespread recognition, the next challenge was to keep the disease, and those impacted, top of mind. The ALS Association tasked KWT Global with reclaiming public interest and bringing renewed attention to the condition.
Ice Bucket Challenge founder Pat Quinn was diagnosed with ALS shortly after his 30th birthday. He quickly became a voice for those who had lost precious motor skills due to their diagnosis. While continuing to champion the cause, Pat's condition eventually prevented him from speaking out in his own voice.
The ALS Association and KWT Global analyzed nonprofit sector trends to understand consumer sentiment towards charitable organizations.
Key consumer insights include:
- Giving is about Human Connection: To inspire donations, organizations must make a meaningful connection with potential patrons by showing them why they matter and how they can make a difference.
- Forget Storytelling, Try 'Storydoing': Breaking through the noise present in today's cluttered world requires more than just another news article. Companies, personalities and organizations need to advance their narrative through action, not words.
In addition to sourcing intelligence around how and why consumers give to community programs, KWT Global wondered what the public sentiment was towards ALS more generally. The team discovered that:
- A lack of knowledge and understanding of ALS has led to general confusion and misconceptions around the disease.
- Once diagnosed, patients are not actively banking their voice in an effort to preserve their unique personality.
Understanding the widespread confusion around the implications of the disease, the team needed to execute against a program that 1. Educated the masses and 2. Inspired action from those suffering from ALS (voice banking) and those touched/inspired by the cause (donations).
Enter Project Revoice – an initiative aimed to find new solutions for those suffering from illnesses that cause the loss of speech.
To launch, Project Revoice set out to give Pat Quinn his own voice back long after he had lost the ability to verbally communicate. Because Pat had not banked his voice, Lyrebird, a Canadian technology company, created a digital clone of Pat's voice, using interview recordings and speeches as raw material. An AI algorithm then analyzed the essence of Pat's voice and built a complete digital clone, allowing him say anything – even words he had never spoken before.
The team put together a robust multimedia blitz encompassing the best elements of earned and social media aimed to:
- Bring to life the core program attributes
- Leverage emotional creative assets
- Engage a broader segment of everyday consumers
- Educate reporters on the importance of voice banking and donations towards a cure
Leveraging Pat's renewed platform, KWT Global drove international media attention for ALS with top-tier reporters in the US, Canada and Australia, offering in-person interviews, a behind-the-scenes look into the computational linguistics technology and machine learning used, and the heart-wrenching moment Pat Quinn spoke again for the first time to family and friends.
Pat's big reveal was captured on camera as a storytelling device for the Project Revoice initiative, used to encourage others to participate, cover and contribute.
The program generated high impact media coverage and consumer buzz across national, regional and trade media as well as on social. Reputable outlets such as CNET, CBS, HUFFPOST, USA Today, ABC, Inside Edition, PC Mag, New York Post and FOX News covered the announcement, with every interview seen as an opportunity to hear Pat's story in his own words and bring new awareness to the disease.
Since launch, the program has garnered more than +900 million impressions, +680 media placements, 100% of which boasted positive sentiment, +41 million social engagements, inspired +500 new patients to join the program and resulted in countless contributions to the cause.
Together, we've made amazing progress, with more than $89+ million committed to ALS research since the Ice Bucket Challenge.
At a time when you need to shout to be heard, Project Revoice reminded the world that real voices can make a real difference.
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