2014 Platinum PR Awards: Community Relations

Co-Winner: MSLGROUP - Wine to Water: Miracle Machine

It was an elaborate hoax for a very real cause. The Miracle Machine promised to turn water into wine in the comfort of one’s home in just three days. Though the machine turned out to be a fake, the campaign—the brainchild of MSLGROUP— was designed to raise awareness for a very real organization and issue: "Wine to Water," a North Carolina-based group that provides people around the world with access to clean water.

At the beginning of March 2014, the Miracle Machine went viral, and to lend credence to the faux cause, it was even being touted by two real-life wine entrepreneurs. As a result, the story was picked up by media outlets all over the world and some 7,000 people signed up for more information about the fake product. "The miracle of turning water to wine might remain out of reach, but Wine to Water has shown that the real miracle of providing clean water is easily within our grasp,” said Philip James of CustomVine, who was one of the entrepreneurs who touted the fake machine.

All in all, the campaign was a smashing success; in fact, it resulted in close to 1 billion media impressions, donations rose 21%, and 6,000 people gained access to clean water for a year.

Co-Winner: Ogilvy Public Relations - Earthquake Brace + Bolt Pilot Program: Funds To Strengthen Your Foundation

Two areas in California, Oakland and Los Angeles, are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes. The Ogilvy team and the California Residential Mitigation Program set out to offer a financial incentive to register and retrofit 10 houses in two different markets—Rockridge near Oakland and Eagle Rock near Los Angeles. This area has a preponderance of homes that are not structurally safe and whose foundations needed to be strengthened to avoid seismic collapse.

Even though the program offered a financial incentive of $3,000, homeowners were aware that most retrofits cost about $5,000, with some as much as $10,000.This work would most likely not be free.

Ogilvy pinpointed every home in the target areas that was eligible and engaged directly with the homeowners. On top of hyper-local outreach, the team secured a number of media placements in outlets like the Los Angeles Times, California Public Radio and the Contra Costa Times.

Through Facebook banner ads, the program reached nearly 240,000 people in a three-week period. With more than 700,000 media impressions resulting from 13 articles in local, Latino and regional papers and 10 public events and presentations, the program was successfully promoted to homeowners in our targeted area.

During the course of the one-month pilot, the campaign goal was to get 20 applications. The program generated over 350 applications, more than 17 times the target number.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Bellmont Partners - 50 Days of Uptown
  • Clapp Communications - FOP & IAFF Community Outreach Initiatives
  • Kroger - The Kroger Difference:  Redesigning the Community Rewards Program
  • Lambert, Edwards & Associates - Movers for Moms
  • Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company - FutureSmart Challenge
  • Molina Healthcare, Inc. - Back to School Bonanza
  • MWW - Making “Stronger Than the Storm” A Self Fulfilling Prophecy for NJ Shore Businesses and Communities
  • Raytheon Company - Mathletes Set GUINNESS World Record Title at the 2013 MATHCOUNTS National Competition