EMA’s Hunger Bear Drives up Giving for the Food Bank

The Hunger Bear is coming to the rescue of the Food Bank. Created by Eric Mower and Associates, the Hunger Bear is the star of a new multimedia advertising campaign that has helped increase donations and volunteer support for the Food Bank just when national charitable giving has been going down.

Since the launch of the new campaign in November 2008, the Food Bank of Central New York has seen a 35 percent increase in donations. Volunteer applications have grown and the number of companies making corporate donations have increased. Since Hunger Bear came on the scene, the number of people visiting the Food Bank’s website increased 67 percent.

“With layoffs and the troubled economy, the need for food is on the rise. We were worried about what would happen this winter, but the Hunger Bear campaign is making a difference,” said Tom Slater, executive director at the Food Bank of Central New York. “The Hunger Bear concept really caught people off guard. It’s not the typical advertising you would expect to see from the Food Bank, but we have been overwhelmed with positive response from the campaign.”

Using the theme “filling the hole left by hunger,” the campaign centers around a stuffed teddy bear with a hole in its stomach, and a girl who is on a journey to find ways to fill that hole. The print, television and radio ads feature the young girl finding the Hunger Bear and filling its hole with food, volunteers and money. (To download a high-resolution image of the print ad and view the television and radio ads, go to http://newsroom.mower.com/index.cfm?company=advert.)

“We wanted to do something drastically different,” said Tom Merrick, a partner and creative director at EMA. “Usually you see sad-faced kids or low income people who are struggling and need help. We wanted something a bit more upbeat, especially in this economy where everyone is struggling. The girl and Hunger Bear is more of a positive message that resonates with the viewers or listeners. Sad faces wouldn’t have worked in this economy.”

The campaign’s primary goal was to increase community awareness of the many ways that they can help fill the hole of hunger, through food donations, volunteer work, or monetary contributions.

EMA employees stepped up to help with the campaign, including Michelle Hines, an accountant at EMA’s Syracuse office, who volunteered to take the creative team’s illustrations and sew the plush hunger bear and donation holes together for the television ad

“I’m humbled by the results of the campaign,” Merrick said. “I’m humbled by the many people who eagerly volunteered to help make this a success. I’m proud of it and glad it worked. The Food Bank does incredible work here in our community and I’m thankful that I could be a part of it.”

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