Branded Content and Entertainment has recently gained familiarity and popularity in our region and especially in Lebanon. The fact that this is the first year of the inclusion of this category speaks to its emerging rather than established trend.
Experiential events are even newer. Where product placement is common and film production is on the uptake, full-fledged experiential events are a rarity.
For us, it was the perfect vehicle for 3 reasons: 1) Beirut is a small city and it's relatively easy to grab a large audience in key central locations; 2) word-of-mouth travels fast in our culture and 3) The Lebanese by nature are always looking for new experiences, and our experiential event was exactly what was needed to grab their - and the media's - attention.
Tamanna relies on donations to grant wishes of critically ill children in Lebanon.
In order to help as many children as possible, Tamanna needed to raise awareness and funds.
But we discovered a potential obstacle.
Many Lebanese believe contributing towards the often lengthy, expensive treatment is the only way to support children with critical illnesses. Because wish-granting isn't a high-profile activity in Lebanon, it was hard for people to truly understand the impact such a gesture makes on a sick child.
We intended to create an inspirational experience that conveyed Tamanna's mission of "turning tears into laughter" and that would move Lebanon to give.
We began by looking at Tamanna’s wish list and were struck by Carmen, an 8-year-old undergoing chemotherapy, who wished for an iPad at Christmas. This was August. Because we knew that critical illnesses follow their own timeline, we changed the date of Christmas.
In a short period of time, we reached out to Carment's parents, coordinated with officials for the use of the high-profile, central location, worked with the Lebanese army to create Santa's dramatic entry and ensured media and influencers were in Beirut Souk on September 8.
On September 8, 2012, Carmen’s parents took her out for ice-cream in Downtown Beirut. Suddenly, Christmas carols began to play and Beirut Souks transformed into a semi-Winter Wonderland. While Santa Clause typically flies his reindeer, on this night he was lowered from a helicopter right in front of Carmen. With an iPad in his sack.
The event was heartwarming, hopeful; a powerful and touching story of a brave little girl whose wish came true. Video of the event was produced; content was supplied to all the media outlets. People generously and spontaneously shared the video creating a tremendous ripple effect that carried Carmen and Tamanna far beyond Beirut.
The story touched hearts and people generously, spontaneously shared the video on multiple media platforms creating a tremendous ripple effect that carried Carmen and Tamanna far beyond Beirut.
The video was shared heavily in social media such as Facebook profiles and twitter pages of individuals and companies not in any way involved with Tamanna. 200+ blogs and bloggers also shared the story or linked to the video.
And best of all are reactions we've seen in comments such as:
"Love it! I hope you guys go viral and Tamanna gets a gazillion more donations! Sharing!"
Tamanna and Carmen became the talk of the town from Beirut all the way to Chicago.
200+ blogs shared the story; the video was featured on Facebook profiles and twitter pages of individuals, celebrities and companies. Coordination with prominent talk shows such as LBC's "Kalam El Nass" created lengthy features and interviews. The ripple effect included prime-time news coverage on MTV and Future TV, 3 different language newspapers - L'Orient Le Jour, An Nahar and The Daily Star - and Lebanon's #1 radio, Radio One.
The event and coverage cost $0.
But more importantly, people were moved to give. In less than 5 weeks, donations to Tamanna increased by 74% and volunteer requests by 112%.
These aren’t just numbers. These are wishes. Tamanna's average of fulfilling 12 wishes a month became 26 wishes a month. That’s almost 1 wish a day.