Sweater Day campaign does double duty

A new initiative from Red Lion asks other Toronto agencies to make their National Sweater Day apparel go the extra mile.

Room Temp Sweater Day Layout_3Toronto agency Red Lion has jumped on the popularity of the World Wildlife Fund’s National Sweater Day campaign to promote another worthy cause – battling homelessness in the city.

The Feb. 5 initiative by the WWF asks Canadians to turn their thermostats down two degrees and wear a sweater, in an effort to reduce energy consumption and combat climate change.

The initiative is well-known in the advertising community. In 2012, agency John St. launched the campaign for the cause, featuring a call centre of grannies reminding Canadians to don their sweaters. That award-winning campaign led to 1.6 million Canadians participating in the event, a 55% increase over the previous year.

This year, the Red Lion team realized that they could jump on a campaign the ad community was already tapped into. Those same sweaters could do double duty and help keep homeless men and women on the streets of Toronto a bit warmer this winter.

Working with the Institute of Communications Agencies (ICA), Red Lion has set up posters and donation bins in 14 agencies across the city, and will pick up donated sweaters after a week. Red Lion staff will then distribute them directly to the homeless in Toronto.

The agency also created a website related to the initiative, TheSweaterOff.com, where agencies can arrange a pick-up of donations.

While the initiative is only in Toronto, based on enthusiasm in the ad community, it could expand nationally, Litzinger says.