Proximity Case study CHAIRFREECHICAGO.ORG by Energy BBDO Chicago

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Industry Website
Media Case study
Market United States
Agency Energy BBDO Chicago
Designer Mike Mcquade
Released December 2010

Credits & Description

Category: Titanium and Integrated
Date of First Appearance: Dec 4 2010
Entry URL:
Creative Director, Writer: Kevin Lynch (Energy BBDO)
Designer: Mike McQuade (Energy BBDO)
Developer: Brett Burwell (Energy BBDO)
Writer: Nate Gagnon (Energy BBDO)
Print Production: Heather Beck (Energy BBDO)
Project Manager: Claudia Richman (Energy BBDO)
Media placement: Website Launched - Online - December 4, 2010
Media placement: Public Relations Campaign - Local And National Print - December 6, 2010
Media placement: Public Relations Campaign - Local And National Broadcast - December 6, 2010
Media placement: Public Relations Campaign - Online Media - December 6, 2010

Describe the campaign/entry
Generally speaking, Chicagoans are rather nice to each other. Except after big snowstorms. After big snows, once people shovel out their cars, they have a tradition of saving their shoveled out parking spaces by placing chairs in the street where they shoveled. So we created Chair-Free Chicago, a web-based community effort that lets people declare their street a "Chair-Free Zone" with signs they can download or order. This effort encourages our fellow Chicagoans to treat each other as nice in the winter as we do during the rest of the year.

Describe how the campaign/entry was launched across each channel in the order of implementation
To help reach the maximum number of Chicagoans as quickly as possible, we employed an aggressive PR push. The effort was launched on the eve of the season’s first big snowstorm in Chicago, when discussions about this tradition would be at their peak. Complementing the PR push was a website, which served as a centralized hub for all activities, allowing people to order Chair-Free Zone signs, read about the latest news, upload pictures of their own efforts, or even lobby city officials to change the law. In addition, social media was used extensively to help create earned media and help amplify the attention our PR efforts were receiving. And to assure news about Chair-Free Chicago would remain relevant throughout winter, we held shoveling parties after each big snowstorm. These additional events garnered hundreds of thousands of additional media impressions.

Give some idea of how successful this campaign/entry was with both client and consumer
Within days of launching, Chair-Free Chicago became a rallying cry and focal point for citizens and community activists to openly question a tradition that was reluctantly "accepted" previously. Chair-Free Chicago supporters downloaded hundreds of signs, and thousands contacted their city officials, pleading with them to make the city a Chair-Free Zone. The objective of Chair-Free Chicago was not profit; it was to spark debate about the tradition. So it’s worth noting that the site generated over 6.3 BILLION measured media impressions within the first three months. All with a media spend of $0.