Marking the start of Advertising Week in New York, the Advertising Club of New York honored Feeding America at the event's opening lunch Oct. 3, the Stars of Madison Avenue Honor Feeding America, at the Plaza. The luncheon, held in partnership with the Ad Council, Collective Media, Demand Media, Efficient Frontier and Inmobi, saluted the companies that help Feeding America and its national network of food banks feed 37 million Americans each year.
"On the heels of Hunger Action Month, concluding last week, we are proud today to recognize Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger relief charity, and their outstanding partner brands," said Ad Club President Gina Grillo in opening the event. "These organizations are tireless in helping those in need."
Says Amy Franze, chief philanthropy officer for the Chicago-based nonprofit: "The fact that we were recognized today by the Ad Club was really extraordinary -- and an incredible opportunity and platform for us to get across our message. Every person here was being recognized because they are fighting hunger in America. We saw the great work that [our partners] are doing, and it really highlighted the importance of the issue and the things these organizations are doing to close the gap on hunger."
Feeding America works with 200 food banks and 61,000 agencies around the U.S. and in Puerto Rico to feed 37 million hungry Americans, including 14 million children, Franze says.
"Since 2008, the number of hungry Americans has grown by more than 35%," she says. "The face of hunger has really changed. People think it's people who are homeless, but that 's less than 8% of the people we feed. The vast majority are the working poor—a single mom, a taxi driver. We think it's really important that people are aware of it." During today's event, two new PSAs, produced by Cutwater San Francisco with actors Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin, were unveiled as part of the Ad Council's "Real Stories" campaign for Feeding America. English-language spots encourage viewers to get involved at FeedingAmerica.org/Hunger, while Spanish-language PSAs direct audiences to FeedingAmerica.org/Espanol.
Award winners at this year's event, hosted by WCBS-TV food editor and "Fresh Grocer" Tony Tantillo, were:
- AOL, honored for its interactive program that highlighted Hunger Action Month -- including PSAs across the AOL network, eight daily impact units on AOL.com to drive visitors to a Feeding America profile page, blogs on Huffington Post and an interactive area for celebrity PSAs, directions to food banks, one-click donations and participation on Feeding America's Facebook page; in addition, AOL is hosting a private dinner for 65 brand CEOs and CMOs last evening to highlight the campaign.
- Clear Channel Communications, which ran Feeding America campaigns on its 850 radio stations in 150 markets, including its support of the "Stamp Out Hunger" effort and running PSAs on its Times Square HD screen.
- Kraft Foods, for setting up 10 mobile farmer's marketers for Feeding America food banks as well as the 2011 Huddle to Fight Hunger, with a goal of providing 25 million meals to Feeding America by its close with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Dec. 31 in San Francisco.
- Nielsen Co., which donated more than $1 million in in-kind research to help Feeding America and its food banks develop "Map the Meal Gap," an analysis of local food insecurity in the U.S. that aided the organization to better target and reach Americans in need.
- Walmart, Feeding America's top donor, with a $2 billion commitment to the organization over five years in the "Fighting Hunger Together" initiative, including donating more than 118 trucks to transport healthful food to those in need.
Special honorees were City Harvest, ConAgra Foods, Food Bank for New York City, General Mills and Sesame Workshop.
Finally, to keep the emphasis on Feeding America, Demand Media initiated Pound4Pound in conjunction with Livestrong.com and Advertising Week, inviting ad and media people to let others know what they're eating this week through "Tweet What You Eat" at #AW08 #4Pound.
Feeding America has been expanding rapidly since it rebranded itself in 2008, leading to a partnership with the Ad Council that has resulted in about $120 million in free media. The organization also began working with more companies on cause marketing partnerships. The growth since then, Franze says, is "a combination of the partnership with the Ad Council, and our rebranding and the great cause marketing partnerships that we have. It gives that American consumer an opportunity to make a choice to contribute to a cause they care about. Many consumers know people who are struggling with this.
"When you look at food insecurity, it relates to unemployment and poverty," she says. "There's a direct link between the issue of hunger and unemployment, so this issue is going to be with us for quite some time."