Donated Banner Space Draws $1.5M for Disaster Relief Effort

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Banners crafted by the direct marketing shop Grizzard Agency have garnered The Salvation Army more than $1.5 million in donations as of Sept. 18, seven days after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC.


The banners were created pro bono by the Atlanta agency and run on more than 2,200 Web sites, including MSN, USA Today, Excite, Yahoo, CitySearch, Business Week, ESPN, The Sporting News, Monster.com and TV Guide.


"The space on these Web sites has been donated," said Phil Stolberg, Los Angeles-based senior vice president at Grizzard. "Every one of these sites is to be thanked for their tremendous community spirit."


An estimated 2.7 million impressions have been recorded so far across nearly 1,500 measured Web sites. The 2,200-plus sites have yielded more than 12,000 donors.


Click-throughs have not been measured, Stolberg said, given Grizzard's priority of sending thank-you e-mails to donors and enlisting more sites.


The Salvation Army banners come in five formats and, for the convenience of Webmasters, are available at http://www.redshield.org/crisis/webmasters. The crisis Web site and jump page is at http://www.redshield.org/crisis.


Creative varies for each banner. One says, "Terrorist victims need immediate aid ... you can help -- click now!" Another says, "Help is urgently needed! More than ever, America's relief workers need your support."


The Salvation Army crisis Web site and jump page explains what the organization is doing to lodge, feed and spiritually help survivors of the World Trade Center attack.


Once visitors click on the Online Donations link, they are taken to a page titled, "America in Crisis." It is headlined "Salvation Army's Disaster Relief Efforts" and opens with comments from the organization's national commander, commissioner John Busby.


An appeal for donations to the local area corps follows. Amounts range from $10 to $5,000. For other amounts, a toll-free number is cited, 1-800-SAL ARMY.


Yahoo is hosting the Salvation Army donation site for free at http://store.yahoo.com/salvationarmy. All donations collected are forwarded to The Salvation Army.


"The Salvation Army's international Web site at www.salvationarmy.org is the only one that can accept and process credit card donations, but due to the heavy traffic, Yahoo has come to the Army's assistance," Stolberg said.


Salvation Army banners run at the discretion of the host sites. Many have promised a presence through the week of Sept. 24.


"A lot of sites, there was no sunset," Stolberg said. "We didn't even talk about schedules. They just put them up. I would expect sometime toward the end of next week that they'd start rotating off."


Clients of 82-year-old Grizzard include Coca-Cola Co., United Parcel Service, Olan Mills, Honey Baked Hams, Kroger Supermarkets and BellSouth. It has nonprofit accounts such as Rescue Missions, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and numerous animal welfare and humane societies. In July, Marketing Services Group Inc. agreed to sell Grizzard Communications Group to ad conglomerate Omnicom Group Inc., New York.


A challenge Grizzard faces with The Salvation Army relief effort is installing the infrastructure to cope with the feedback accompanying gifts from donors.


"There's hundreds, maybe even thousands, of e-mails that have come back with people saying everything from 'God bless you' to 'Please help,' and just responding to all those e-mails is a huge challenge that we're encountering right now," Stolberg said.


Even before the terrorist attacks, Grizzard was negotiating with a few of the host sites for The Salvation Army's holiday campaigns.


"So we got on the phone with those Web sites and said, 'What do you think?' and they came back and said, 'Let's do it and the space is free,'" Stolberg said. "And we started rolling."


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