NBC, Walgreens, M&M’S, Celebs Help Bring Red Nose Day to USA

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Red Nose Day

Americans have probably seen those bulbous red noses around town and on TV, as NBC and Walgreens pull out all the stops to brand Red Nose Day—long a charity powerhouse in the UK—as a national rally for a good cause. And all consumers have to do is buy a red nose for a buck.

NBC, Walgreens, M&M’s and the UK’s Comic Relief are making May 21 the inaugural Red Nose Day in the US, supporting charities that aid children and young people living in poverty. The UK’s Comic Relief organization launched the first Red Nose Day in 1988 but this is the first US event, including a three-hour live TV benefit on NBC.

Walgreens is the exclusive retail partner selling red noses for the US public to participate. Consumers can purchase them at the drugstore giant’s check-out counters for $1 each, with 50 cents going to charity and 50 cents to produce the nose.

NBC is is hosting numerous promotions such as Blake Shelton wearing a red nose on The Voice and The Today Show’s Matt Lauer cycling from Boston to New York to raise money for the 12 charities.

Participating celebrities include Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams, Jennifer Hudson, Will Ferrell, Shaquille O’Neal, Eva Mendes and Sam Smith.

Donations will be disbursed amongst children and families in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the US through 12 charities including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Children’s Health Fund, Feeding America, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, The Global Fund, Lift, National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, Oxfam America, Save the Children and United Way.

The US launch comes as Red Nose Day continues to be a fundraising mainstay in the UK, where it takes place every two years to avoid consumer fatigue. During the event, millions of people work for donations leading up to a night of comedy and documentaries on BBC One that has generated more than a billion pounds to date, supporting disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa for the past 30 years.

Happily, the biggest challenge to Red Nose Day so far has been that purchases are exceeding expectations. Since launch two weeks ago, Walgreen’s has sold more than half of its goal to sell millions of red noses, and is quickly producing the facial adornment to keep up with demand.

“We have a very generous American public, and they have truly stepped up,” said Linn Jordan, marketing director of cause marketing at Walgreens, to Ad Age. Participating brand partners include Kraft, Energizer, Coca-Cola and M&M’S.

One competitive advantage the company may have had in spotting the opportunity? Walgreens President Alex Gourlay is a transplanted Brit. “He ‘nose’ a thing or two about this powerful cause brand,” according to Forbes.

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