4 Lessons from Partner Clean’s “Joined In Strength” Campaign for Charlottesville

WPI Partner Clean in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA created a powerful and successful campaign for The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau (CACVB), driving 500 million impressions in a single week.

The campaign, “Joined in Strength,” was developed to unite the Charlottesville, Virginia and Washington, DC communities and spread a message of positivity on the one year anniversary of the tragic “Unite the Right” rally. Clean had been working with CACVB since that rally, but the client only made the decision to address the anniversary ten days before, leaving the independent advertising agency with less than two weeks to strategize, develop and execute.

The rushed timeframe and cultural context presented Clean with unique challenges. Reflecting on this experience and the performance of the campaign, Clean shared four important lessons that helped them achieve success.

1. Operate like a Newsroom

With the extremely tight deadline of ten days, Clean couldn’t get hung up on traditional ad agency roles or departments within the company.

A core brand team was selected to drive the campaign, which included Bob Ranew, Creative Director, Beth Nash, Senior Brand Strategist, Leia Trotter, Account Manager, and Alyson Stanley, Senior PR Manager. Yet standard titles and roles fell away as the team camped out in the agency’s war room and dove into the work–the account person acted as production lead, creatives helped with distribution, and everyone pitched in to hang banners and spread buzz around the cities.

“This immersive teamwork taught us all how to play different roles, collaborate and understand each other,” said Beth Nash. “And the energy that it created in the agency was incredible.”

2. Use a Powerful Icon as a Centerpiece

Clean reached out to German artist Joni Majer to utilize her design work as the unifying centerpiece of the entire campaign. “Joni’s artwork could not have been more perfect,” said Nash. It features two hands–one dark, one light–clasped together in unity, signifying in a simple yet compelling way the strength that comes from harmony and community.

This positive icon was used across all assets, from posters and street banners, to programmatic and print ads. Clean created a campaign microsite,  https://cvillestrength.com/, where the icon was available as a digital download for posters, stickers, t-shirts, and social media profiles and shareable images, allowing people to create their own assets and messages.

During the week of the campaign, the website saw 8,000 user sessions across all 50 U.S. states. Images were downloaded 3,300 times during the week, with 750 downloads on the day of the rally alone.

3. Leverage a Multi-Channel Approach

Clean relied on a paid, owned, and earned media approach to spread the #JoinedInStrength message. In addition to extensive media outreach and the website and digital downloads, Clean had three teams hanging banners and posters in Charlottesville, Washington, DC and Alexandria, Virginia.

They also amplified the message by taking out full-page print ads in The Washington Post and The Daily Progress, Charlottesville’s newspaper, and ran digital ads on The Washington Post website, which drove 1.2 million digital ad impressions with a click through rate two times the site’s average.

4. Get Celebrities Onboard to Increase Awareness

Several local and international celebrities joined in to support the campaign, including music icon Dave Matthews, local reality stars and University of Virginia grads The Holderness Family, and pro-footballer, Super Bowl champion and NC native Torry Holt. By stopping by the rally and sharing the message on social channels, these influencers helped bring the total social shares to 1 million across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The results of the Joined in Strength campaign are impressive, even more so knowing how little time Clean had to bring it all together. You can’t always be prepared for these types of unexpected projects, but the experience has helped Clean hone their processes and systems to ensure they’re successful again in the future.