Red Nose Day Impact: 5 Questions With Walgreens CMO Adam Holyk

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Red Nose Day USA 2018

Walgreens has rolled up the impact of its continuing corporate support of Red Nose Day USA, which took place on May 24, and the results have been tangible—in fundraising for the kids-focused campaign—as well as intangible, in growing awareness of the need to end childhood poverty and in recognition of the efforts of the campaign’s many partners and collaborative spirit.

Since beginning in the UK in 1985 as a charity based on the iconic symbol of a circus clown and backed by Comic Relief, with its first actual UK Red Nose Day in 1988, it expanded in 2015 with the launch of Red Nose Day USA, and has taken on its own identity on both sides of the Atlantic. One key reason is that Red Nose Day essentially is built on the power of laughter and comedy to engage people, which Red Nose Day USA CEO Janet Scardino has called “a gateway to our cause.”

In the UK, where it’s held in alternate years with Sport Relief, its British comic influencers include director Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, etc.), actors including Hugh Grant and Benedict Cumberbatch and a host of comedians known for stand-up and shows on the BBC and Channel 4. In fact, Grant and his American co-star Julia Roberts were both involved this year.

In the U.S., Red Nose Day has partnered with NBC—the network known for iconic comedies including Seinfeld, The Office and Friends—and celebrities galore, including Jennifer Garner, Zoe Saldana and The Simpsons.

Leading up to the actual day, having a strong retail partner is vital to stirring up consumer enthusiasm, keeping awareness high and distributing those all-important red noses, which this year Red Nose Day USA retail partner Walgreens produced a “sparkle red nose” with glittery silver flecks.

Walgreens CMO Adam Holyk“Red Nose Day provides everyone the opportunity to have a bit of fun for a really important case,” Walgreens SVP and Chief Marketing Officer Adam Holyk (right) told brandchannel. 

“Our customers equally embrace our Red Nose Day campaign and our other brand cause efforts such as Get A Shot, Give A Shot, which follows the one-for-one model to provide life-saving vaccines to children in need.”

“We have seen that today’s consumers want to make a difference and actively support brands who give back. Helping champion the health and well-being of communities across America is at the heart of Walgreens brand,” he added.

In its first three years, Red Nose Day USA has raised over $100 million, impacting the lives of more than 8 million children in all 50 states and Puerto Rico and 34 countries internationally. During last year’s campaign alone, Walgreens sold 10.6 million red noses and raised over $20 million.

As the exclusive U.S. retail partner for the fourth consecutive year, Walgreens sold $1 red noses to customers until June 2nd, donating 100% of the proceeds to the cause. The multi-week 2018 campaign, which raised over $42 million to benefit kids in need, culminated in a live NBC special on May 24th.

The money raised by Red Nose Day benefits some of the neediest communities in the U.S. and beyond. Partner charities include Boys & Girls Clubs of America; charity: water; Children’s Health Fund; Covenant House; Feeding America; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; UnidosUS; Save the Children; and The Global Fund.

All Red Nose Day donations support a range of not-for-profit partners and projects to keep young people safe, healthy, educated and empowered. Since 2015, Red Nose Day funds have helped to provide more than 899,000 children with educational services; 6.79 million children with essential medical services; and served 32.2 meals to American children in need.

Holyk shared more insights from Walgreens perspective about the shared value the campaign creates for Red Nose Day and its partners:

What did Walgreens do differently this year for Red Nose Day?

This year’s Red Nose Day had a special silver “Sparkle Red Nose” available exclusively at Walgreens. Additionally, other Red Nose Day merchandise was available exclusively at Walgreens, with all profits from all sales benefitting Red Nose Day. We also introduced the Every One Counts Hometown Challenge, a way to rally consumers in select markets to get involved in the name of hometown pride. (Atlanta was the winning market.)

What were some of the other brands involved this year?

Each year, Red Nose Day receives generous support from its corporate partners like Walgreens, as well as NBC, Mars, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. Together, we hope to keep children and young people safe, healthy, educated and empowered.

How did you engage consumers in the cause?

We use a multi-channel approach to engage consumers across our earned and owned operating channels to tell emotive stories that resonate at the national and community level. These stories help amplify the impact Walgreens and Red Nose Day can make in local communities.

For example, “Striking Out Poverty” in the inner city of Atlanta, and “The Care Next Door” providing support to local schools in Huntington, West Virginia, while “In Giving, We Receive” recounts the story how donations for Red Nose Day were used to support communities across Puerto Rico in the response to hurricane Maria.

One way in which we tracked our social engagement is via the hashtag #EveryOneCounts, a nod to our broader cause-related initiatives that encourages people to make a difference through their purchases. In addition to our storytelling strategy, we also launched the Hometown Challenge, to educate consumers about Red Nose Day, and encourage them to support the cause and purchase a red nose.

How do you extend the campaign beyond the annual Red Nose Day?

Red Nose Day is one of many cause-related programs that Walgreens supports and that helps customers make a difference through their purchases. So even though Red Nose Day is over, we continue to provide customers with ways to help children in need through our Every One Counts platform, which creates opportunities for customers to help children by supporting the health and well-being of communities both in the US and around the world.

How does Red Nose Day USA compare to the UK campaign?

While the campaigns are held at different times of the year, the consistent purpose is to raise awareness and money to help those living incredibly tough lives. The goal is the same—educate and inspire people to get involved.


Read more:

Red Nose Day USA: 5 Questions With Comic Relief Inc. CEO Janet Scardino

A 116-Year Transformation: 5 Questions With Walgreens CMO Adam Holyk


Get more insights in our Q&A series and newsletter.

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