Two years after launching their first smoke alarm, smart home technology leader Nest Labs was seeking ways to raise consumer awareness of its Nest Protect alarm during October's Fire Prevention Week and to position Nest as a technology leader in the safety industry to the fire service community (fire departments). Fire service leaders at every level are incredibly influential in advising consumers on which smoke alarm to purchase to keep their families safe, however, these community leaders are difficult to reach, and even harder for a brand to impress.
Fire departments nationwide are critically underfunded, potentially putting firefighter and community safety at risk. Despite the financial limitations facing fire departments, it's clear that consumer perception of fire departments remains strong. Over 75% of consumers have an excellent or good perception of the fire service.*
* (source: Murphy, The public's perception of the modern day Fire and Rescue Service, (dissertation), 2014)
We were interested in finding a way to provide funds to fire departments, however, though many are available, we were unable to find an existing grant for Nest to sponsor that offered a focus on technology support and a way to engage consumers in the process.
We needed to find a non-profit partner, respected by fire service leaders and relatable to our consumer target, that would work creatively with us to launch a new technology grant.
Our team identified the Leary Firefighters Foundation (LFF), an organization started in 2000 by actor Denis Leary. Leary started the Foundation in response to a tragic fire that took the lives of his cousin, a childhood friend and four others. The Foundation's mission is to provide funding and resources for Fire Departments to obtain the best available equipment, technology and training.
LFF agreed to partner with Nest to launch a new "Thank You" grant award that aligned with the joint mission of using cutting edge technology to save lives by sponsoring equipment improvements for local US fire departments. Two fire departments would be chosen to receive $25,000 technology grants.
The Thank You grant didn't start with fire departments filling out a grant application. Instead, we engaged directly with consumers, asking them to nominate their local department with a simple vote by providing their zip code. An extra vote was added for those entries that included a personal "thank you" comment or story. The departments with the most votes would be the finalists for LFF's grant application process.
Under our guidance and direction, Nest supported the promotion with a dedicated entry page on their website and through social media promotion via their channels.
In parallel, our team reached out to our established network of fire service leaders in the top 100 markets, leaders of all the major fire service organizers and fire service trade publication editors, compelling them to spread the news to their communities and asking for support. We offered electronic and printed flyers to distribute to their communities and recommended social content to push out to their channels.
Consumer nominations were collected through the month of October, with the goal of securing 1,000 consumer nominations.
Due to our fire department and trade outreach, all the leading fire service verticals and dozens of fire departments nationwide helped spread the word about the grant nominations through their social channels and newsletters. LFF founder and celebrity Denis Leary himself tweeted about the contest, creating the largest spike in entries during the run of the promotion.
Consumer engagement with the Nest social content was off the charts, even for a popular brand like Nest, garnering 3.5x their average post engagement in 2015 and the first contest post was in the top 5 Nest posts for entire the year (they average 4-5 posts per week on Facebook).
The thousands of "Thank You" story nominations received were the biggest surprise, offering examples of the touching and emotional connections consumers have with their fire departments.
Ultimately, over 3,200 individual consumer nominations were received, not even including the 1,100 bonus "Thank You" story votes, 300% over the goal!
We are currently working with LFF to produce a video recap featuring the final grant recipients, the Phoenix, AZ and Fall River, MA Fire Departments, which will launch in time to promote for Fire Prevention Week 2016.
Fill out the form below and we'll work on connecting you to the entry creator!