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Special Project

Special Project
From the 4th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

CNN Heroes

Finalist in News & Media, Live Events


Since 2007, CNN Heroes has honored hundreds of everyday people who are making the world a better place. We shine a light on folks who, too often, work hard and work selflessly in obscurity. CNN is the #1 name in news, and CNN Heroes exposes these inspiring individuals and their nonprofits to a global audience. CNN Heroes actively works with honorees to raise money that helps them continue and expand their work while raising awareness of their causes. We invite our audience to engage, learn, and be a part of the process from nominations through selecting the CNN Hero of the Year and be inspired every step of the way.

Strategy and Execution

CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute brings together some of the biggest names in entertainment to honor these everyday heroes live on CNN. It is the culmination of an annual campaign that takes place across multiple platforms and around the world.

To be considered as a CNN Hero, each honoree must be nominated online by someone who they inspired. Producers travel the world to capture the CNN Heroes in action and show their impact. These videos are used to tell their stories across platforms. In 2018, they produced more than 40 documentary shorts that published on, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Moving soundbites are broadcast on CNN TV, telling stories and prompting viewers to engage online. 

 Viewers inspired by the Heroes’ stories have an easy way to donate thanks to our partnership with CrowdRise. We begin the fundraising process as soon as each Hero’s story goes live. CrowdRise also helps administer donation matching from Subaru. Subaru’s sponsorship of CNN Heroes goes back more than a decade. The company offered a dollar-for-dollar match up to $50,000 for each of the Top Ten Heroes. 

The CNN Hero of the Year is chosen online. Viewers are urged to vote up to ten times per day, every day of the voting period. This allows them to support the work of multiple Heroes while continuing to engage with the CNN Heroes campaign.

The result of the voting was announced on December 9th during CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute. The two-hour live show was hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa, broadcast on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español and CNNgo with exclusive content featured across CNN, CNN Heroes and AC360 social media accounts. The show honored all of 2018’s Top Ten CNN Heroes, and Dr. Ricardo Pun Chong was named the 2019 Hero of the Year.   

A-List celebrities including Will Ferrell, Bryan Cranston, Emily Mortimer, Danai Gurira and more each deliver moving speeches honoring individual Heroes. Lenny Kravitz performed his song “Here to Love.” The Heroes’ stories were retold in never before seen video profiles. Some of the most talked-about moments featured the show’s surprise guests including Sully, President George W. Bush’s service dog, teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and heroes from the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

The evening’s excitement played out differently depending on how you chose to follow. Before the show, Facebook Live took viewers onto the red carpet with the Heroes and celebrities. During the show, Facebook video featured exclusive moments with the Heroes and their celebrity presenters as they stepped off the stage.

Producers quick turned the show’s big moments for Twitter. Instagram Stories captured the fun and excitement that the TV cameras did not catch. Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell, was a presenter on stage, but also took over @CNNHeroes Instagram feed to share her own snapshots of the evening.


The show ranked #1 in cable news, topping Fox and MSNBC among adults 25-54.


Twitter: 1,400,968 Unique impressions

Facebook: 1,207,021 Organic reach

Instagram: 10,750 Accounts reached


Engagement on the CNN Heroes Facebook Account 

New Followers: 2,137

Video Views: 171.2K

Minutes Viewed: 91.3K


Hero of the Year voting:

1 million + votes



$1,036,001 raised total (not including Subaru matching)

$489,506 for all 20 2018 Heroes

$546,495 additional for the Top Ten Heroes


Additional matching donations from Subaru:



Video for CNN Heroes

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