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Project Blanket: Spreading the Warmth

Gigunda Group Helps Others by Handing Out Blankets to Those in Need

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Gigunda Group, a marketing agency headquartered in New Hampshire, specializes in helping brands forge emotional connections with consumers -- moving consumers from indifference to devotion.

Our campaigns have included Tide Loads of Hope, where we encouraged consumers to support a laundry effort for earthquake victims in Haiti, and Charmin NYC Restrooms, where one holiday season we set up a plush restroom for the public in Times Square.

It's that kind of mindset that led me to create Project Blanket 16 years ago. Inspired by my sister and what she did with answering letters to Santa from her local post office, I thought, "Let's raise the temperature of the country."

Project Blanket's goal is simple: to give the gift of warmth. One of the ways we spread warmth is by offering to donate a case of 24 brand-new 50-by -70-inch fleece blankets to charities on behalf of clients and friends. They give us the names of nonprofits near and dear to their hearts (in their area or anywhere in the country) that could benefit from a donation of blankets, and Gigunda takes care of the rest.

Forget about the fact that we call ourselves an innovation agency or that we've stacked the place with insight experts and idea instigators. What we always try to remind ourselves is that we, too, are people first before we are consumers, just like the people we are ultimately trying to connect with in the market on behalf of our clients. So we always start with what connects with us and what says, "I get you." Where we always end up is how can a brand make a difference. That's been at the core of our thinking since the company was founded -- and how Project Blanket was born.

Having handed out more than 43,000 blankets, Project Blanket's reach extends from coast to coast and helps people year-round. This gift of giving warmth has actually encouraged others to do the same. One such organization was started by a 12-year-old boy in Cincinnati, who was inspired to start a local blanket distribution effort after he gave a blanket to a homeless man outside a Bengals game and was extremely affected by the reaction of the thankful stranger. When we learned of this, we sent the boy hundreds of blankets, which he then handed out on Christmas Eve from the back of his dad's truck. Now that 's a message worth sharing.

Last year, one of Gigunda's Atlanta-based clients requested a blanket donation be delivered to a local charity it supports. In a small Christmas miracle, the blankets were received on the same day a fluke ice storm struck the city.

There is no "season" for Project Blanket. While Project Blanket naturally gets more emphasis during the holidays, there are always people who need blankets. For more information about Project Blanket, please contact ProjectBlanket@GigundaGroup.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan FitzSimons is founder and CEO of Manchester, N.H.-based Gigunda Group.

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