Late last week, I visited the offices of MundayMorning Creative Group, an Addison marketing firm then in the midst of a 24-hour blitz for charity called the CreateAthon. As designers worked on Web sites, logos and brochures for 11 local non-profits, including Central Dallas Ministries and Preservation Dallas, Angelo Antoline explained why he wanted his company to participate in the event, which, since 2001, has become a way for companies across the country to impact their communities while publicizing their brands (part of what seems to be a growing generosity/public relations trend).
"This is a 24-hour non-stop effort," Antoline said as he stood near the office kitchen, which was stocked with bagels and soft drinks for the long night ahead. He gestured to a piece of butcher paper that listed which products the designers were creating for each organization. "We're trying to raise the MundayMorning name in the community by doing good."
When the firm announced the event in November, about 45 organizations applied; Antolini and his employees narrowed down the beneficiaries to 11. They grouped the nonprofits into various areas -- animals, children, the homeless, historical preservation -- and made sure they had roughly one charity from each. By 10 a.m. Friday, Preservation Dallas had a new brochure ("They're not saving children or animals, but they're saving the city," Antolini said), The Warren Center had a new set of strategies to help raise its online presence, and Central Dallas Ministries had a new logo for its thrift store on N. Washington Avenue.
In one of the offices, senior art director Mark Menefee was working on a new site for North Texas Rehabilitation Services, turning this bland, basic site into a professional, colorful one. "We're gonna give them the best look we can," Menefee said.
Pete Peabody, a Preservation Dallas board member, says the CreateAthon "really delivered" on its new brochure. "They really spent time learning what our organization's about, and that's important, because that's what we need -- to get across what we do," he says. "The images span not only our Victorian past, but modern styles as well -- it's beautiful."
Katherine Seale, Preservation Dallas's executive director, says the designers showed her group several drafts over the 24-hour period and even provided each version in editable form.
"We were so pleased that not only did the brochure show off their talent and creativity, but it also showed off their philosophy to give back to the community," she says. "It's a very outside-the-box approach to helping out non-profits in today's economy."
Jay Espaillat, a Warren Center board member, says he's surprised by the quality of the PR and marketing plan MundayMorning was able to turn out in just 24 hours. "They identified what we do well with the site and recommended other items to capitalize on," he says. "All if it's super-helpful." Bill Warren, a donor and board member of the Warren Center, said he hopes the new marketing plan will help boost fund-raising and expand services because the group has a waiting list of families in need. As a businessman himself, he's impressed with the CreateAthon approach.
"It's the darn smartest marketing thing I've seen a company do around here in a long time," he said. "If they have the compassion and intelligence to do something like this, then they're people I want to do business with."