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When clean air protections came under attack in early 2011, the American Lung Association enlisted GMMB to develop an integrated advertising campaign that would energize voters to stand up for clean air.
In the fall of 2011, GMMB developed and launched the Red Carriage Campaign urging Congress to stop putting the health of children and families in jeopardy for the sake of political gains or at the behest of big polluters. Our strategy was to use hard-hitting creative to break through a cluttered national arena and demonstrate the public-health risks of inaction. We chose an iconic image with emotional resonance — a red baby carriage — to serve as the centerpiece of the campaign, tying together print, digital, television, and the ALA’s coordinated efforts in the field. The ads featured a wheezing, coughing baby, tucked into a carriage, abandoned on the steps of the Capitol and ignored in the busy halls of Congress. This compelling visual conveyed the harmful effects that weakening the Clean Air Act would have on public health, especially that of children. Though the visuals were bold, the message was simple: Washington can’t ignore our kids’ health.
After the launch of the advertising campaign, the Red Carriage campaign hit the streets of Washington, D.C. and coordinated visibility events, as well as a unique ‘audio card.’ When opened, the card played the audio (taken from the television ad) of a child struggling to breathe, with a written message asking Congress to preserve the Clean Air Act. The card was delivered to each member of Congress.
Since the launch of the advertising campaign, the red carriage has become an iconic image for the American Lung Association’s continued efforts to protect millions of Americans from breathing toxic air. The campaign has been enormously successful and garnered attention among key constituencies, in the media, in the Administration, and on the Hill. The campaign has drawn attention to the health effects associated with clean air and brought recognition to the Lung Association’s leadership on the issue.
Recognized for its powerful and compelling message, the Red Carriage TV spot won two Reed Awards, Best Television Spot of the 2011 Cycle and Toughest Television Advertisement, as well as a bronze Telly Award for regional TV and multi-market cable for a non-profit.
More than 13,500 leaflets were distributed around Capitol Hill and The White House, and 535 red carriage audio cards were delivered to members of Congress. A video of the audio cards was picked up by National Journal, and 13 reporters attended the press conference, including a CNN camera, Dow Jones/WSJ, Greenwire, McClatchy, The Hill, Argus, Platts, San Francisco Chronicle, Portland Press Herald, Inside EPA, Climatewire and E&E.