Salvation Army hijacks out-of-office emails

The non-profit reminds professionals that not everyone can afford to take time off in a new holiday effort.
Salvation Army

The highly competitive non-profit marketing space becomes even more so during the oversaturated holiday season.

To help cut through the noise, The Salvation Army is turning a channel that is often overlooked: the season’s ubiquitous out-of-office (OOO) emails. In a new holiday fundraising push, the non-profit is encouraging email users to ditch their generic OOO messages for one that aims to raise awareness of the fact that one in seven Canadians live in poverty and therefore can’t afford to take time off. Participants are asked to simply copy and paste the message into their own OOO messages to help spread the word.

The Salvation Army recognized that OOO messages represented a “seemingly untapped opportunity to amplify our message,” says John McAlister, national director of marketing and communications. Seeing as millions of OOO messages are sent during the holidays, the effort has the potential of reaching a significant amount of donors in a relatively inexpensive way, he says. And many of them are young professionals who aren’t part of the already-supportive 55+ consumer segment.

“Although a simple concept and easy to execute, this is a practical way for us to connect with people on a channel that currently isn’t cluttered or over programmed,” McAlister says.

The organization is also leveraging LinkedIn InMail and sponsored Facebook posts to reach the professional cohort. Animated gifs that transform an email inbox image into a shelter, a shirt or a bowl of soup–representing how The Salvation Army helps feed, clothe and shelter people in need–are rolling out on the channels. It’s the first time the organization has used  LinkedIn InMail as part of a marketing campaign.

Grey led on creative, with the support of Edelman on PR and MediaCom on media.

The campaign is part of a larger holiday campaign that began five weeks before Dec. 25 and that includes TV, online video, out-of-home, digital banners, search and social.