Just stART: How three unique business partnerships intertwined and surpassed all expectations

Posted by Sarah Sidman, Jul 14, 2014 0 comments

Sarah Sidman Sarah Sidman

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller

ArtsFund, based in Seattle, is a United Arts Fund with the mission to strengthen the community by supporting the arts through leadership, advocacy and grant making. This is our 45th year, and with an updated strategic plan in place, we set forth to expand our visibility and broaden our base in the community. But with a small (albeit mighty!) staff, we couldn’t do it alone.

Enter Dapper and Associates, a creative marketing company also based in Seattle. Pete Dapper, Founder & Creative Director, expressed interest in joining us in creative partnership. With a range of corporate and executive clientele, Dapper’s team was excited to work with the creative imagery inherent to an arts organization, and to add their vision to multiple platforms to help us refresh and build out our brand. Dapper, too, has a small team with big vision, so where to begin with maximum impact?

START 1Enter Clear Channel Outdoor, an international outdoor advertising company with strong presence in the Pacific Northwest. CCO has long donated ad space to nonprofits, but Pam Guinn, Branch President, Clear Channel Outdoor Seattle, approached ArtsFund “to help many organizations by channeling advertising exposure through one premiere organization. ArtsFund, where a single contribution supports the full range of arts organizations across all disciplines, both large and small, is an organization perfectly aligned with our corporate strategic goals.”

To fully leverage the potential exposure, we wanted to overlap our billboard campaign with our annual fundraising drive kickoff...which was fast approaching! With such tight turnaround, where to turn for great imagery, inclusive of the multiple disciplines we serve and representative of the diversity in our community?

Enter Getty Images, globally renowned content creator and distributor, also with a base in Seattle. Getty is committed to changing lives with imagery, and as John Lapham, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, explains, “as recruiters of a technically innovative and creative workforce, Getty Images was looking for partnership to engage the Seattle office of this highly creative company with the region’s biggest supporter of the creative community: ArtsFund.”

All three partnerships were in the making, but we were looking for the right place to start. Our outdoor START campaign, (Support The ARTs), provided just the opportunity and timeline.

Clear Channel Outdoor provided prime placement for 40 billboards spanning three counties, Getty Images supplied the content, and Dapper the creative vision and concept. CCO estimates that the campaign made over 10 million impressions, but boards are still up so visibility keeps growing.

START 2And each partnership also grew beyond the scope of this project. CCO extended our campaign to digital boards and other initiatives, and Dapper recently designed and oversaw a complete ArtsFund website overhaul. Lapham adds, “The partnership has taken off with Getty Images providing imagery for ArtsFund campaigns and awareness, and financial support through two successful summer fund-drives; and ArtsFund in turn enlightening and entertaining the Getty Images Seattle employees through a series of visits by and performances from regional arts groups supported by ArtsFund.”

Pooling the resources at each partner’s disposal has had far greater impact than any of us could have predicted. The START partnerships not only expanded awareness of ArtsFund and the work we do, they did so for each of the partners as well. Guinn summarizes, “Not only has this partnership helped visibly show our commitment to the community, the high quality images and outstanding creative really showcase our medium.” This campaign also provided the opportunity to make connections and build relationships between each of our partners, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they continue working amongst themselves.

In fact, I think what made this experience as successful as it has been is that all aspects have been both creative and collaborative. From the choice of imagery to billboard location, our partners have invested not only their unique resources, but their time and energy, and worked with us and with one another, to ensure the far reaching success of the campaign.

So my main point here is, just START. Start new conversations, start listening creatively to potential partners, and start thinking of ways to expand to multi-partner relationships. You never know where it may lead, but based on our experience, it’s a safe bet that it will exceed all your expectations.

Our blog salon on Unique Business Partnerships this week is generously sponsored by Drexel University Online.

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