To commemorate the Arthritis Foundation's 75th anniversary and advocacy, integrated marketing agency Mower recently helped light up the sky in green, the foundation's signature color. During Arthritis Awareness Month in May, more than 50 iconic buildings and landmarks in 22 states glowed green in support. The colorful display was part of a multi-platform marketing campaign titled "We Journey Together" that Mower created to spotlight the foundation's milestone and its work supporting people with arthritis.
The "We Journey Together" campaign spanned social media, digital and traditional marketing channels with uplifting messages on living with arthritis and caregivers, no matter their journey.
The campaign's centerpiece featured landmarks across the country lit in green, from the Houston Astrodome to Niagara Falls to Chicago's Willis Tower and the Mario Cuomo Bridge in New York. Additionally, social media, digital, display and print ads featured people with arthritis enjoying their lives, accompanied by inspiring messages such as "We achieve together," "We push together," and "We journey together."
In the first month, Mower says the effort generated a 50 percent increase in website traffic to arthritis.org and more than 350.7 million media impressions. The Foundation also saw an uptick in calls to its helpline (1-800-283-7800).
The Arthritis Foundation is the country's largest nonprofit organization serving individuals affected by arthritis. It offers extensive resources for people who have arthritis and their loved ones with online and in-person services and programs, including summer camps, online courses, discussion forums, local events, podcasts, interviews with experts and even dietary suggestions. About 60 million adults and 300,000 children live with arthritis, and dozens of different types of the disease exist.
For one of Mower's team members, the campaign is a deeply personal effort. SeniorPR/PA Counselor Jill Konopka was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 27. Konopka, a former local TV news anchor and reporter, explained that she manages her condition with medicine and lifestyle choices, but the disease is often misunderstood.
Konopka said she knows many young, healthy individuals who manage the disease and live active lives, including her younger sister. Konopka doesn't let her arthritis slow her down; she is an enthusiastic athlete who has run 16 marathons and is a certified indoor cycling and yoga instructor.
"When you look at me, it doesn't look like I have this autoimmune disease that compromises my immune system. But when you meet people that say, 'You have arthritis? That's an old person's disease!' that's part of the stigma," Konopka asserted.
The Arthritis Foundation has supported her critically and is vital in raising awareness, Konopka added. "They're here as a resource. They're in person and online. They can help you connect with community members who are in the same boat as you and live your best life. They meet you where you are on your specific arthritis journey," she said.
Based on her media experience, Konopka understands how valuable public exposure can be for a non-profit like the Arthritis Foundation. She lends her expertise wherever possible.
Konopka has run three New York City marathons in support of the Foundation. As part of the "We Journey Together" campaign, she is featured in an ad tagged "We push together" wearing a green kilt and running in the New York City Marathon. She also participates in local events like the New York chapter's annual Jingle Bell Run and fundraising dinners.
When appropriate, Konopka also leans into her professional network to help. Mower's comprehensive earned media outreach effort included calling on former colleagues in local markets to cover the "We Journey Together" campaign and showcase the green lights on buildings across the country. Many local journalists were happy to oblige, donning green clothes and Arthritis Foundation pins on-air and sharing videos of local landmarks shining green.
More than 50 stations covered the story, she noted. They included KTLA Los Angeles, where anchor Pedro Rivera and news reporter and weathercaster Kasey Montoya devoted seven minutes to the foundation's 75th-anniversary campaign. Both anchors had a personal connection to the story: Montoya lives with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and Rivera worked with Konopka early in his career in Hartford, Conn., as her cameraman. (Konopka is lobbying Montoya to join an Arthritis Foundation team riding in an upcoming California Coast Classic bike race.)
Along with those local TV features, Mower's campaign spanned on-air reports to ads in AARP's magazines and billboards in Atlanta's Jackson-Hartfield International Airport to social media posts. Each exposure helps relay the foundation's important work, Konopka noted.
"We want people to know the Arthritis Foundation is here. Use them as a resource to help you live and thrive and be your best self. We're all in this space together. We can journey through it together and grow," she concluded.
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