Red Nose Day Learning How To Scale Up

May 22, 2018       Andy Segedin      

You’ve seen the red noses, social-media campaigns, and national telecasts. Three years and over $100 million into Red Nose Day USA, organizing charity Comic Relief USA has found a groove: between $30 and $40 million donated each year, a host of retail partners, and a prime-time showcase on NBC.

The balance sought for the fourth Red Nose Day USA, set for this Thursday, May 24, is to build on the successes of years past while adding new features in hopes of drumming up more attention and donations, according to Janet Scardino, CEO of Comic Relief USA.

“We are a startup and there are so many choices for Americans,” Scardino said of establishing Comic Relief USA and Red Nose Day USA. “The biggest objective in the early days was breaking through the clutter and scaling . . . The last piece is how does [organizational effort] ladder up into ultimate donations.”

As was the case last year, the day will culminate with three hours of prime-time programming featuring two hours of existing franchises with a Red-Nose-Day twist. American Ninja Warrior will be accompanied by Hollywood Game Night, as opposed to last year’s Bear Grylls special, to keep a family-fun vibe through the evening. The move will also allow for double the direct appeals, eight, as compared to last year, according to Scardino. Comic Relief USA has found that direct appeals perform better than the educational journey depicted in last year’s Grylls special.

Red Nose Day will also feature more celebrity experiences that donors can enter to win. Comic Relief USA tested out two such experiences last year and has five currently available on Omaze, including breakfast with the cast of Sherlock and a trip to the London premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

New this year are added merchandise and expanded promotional efforts. The traditional red noses, available for purchase at Walgreens stores, have an added sparkle for 2018. The luster is meant to symbolize every child shining, according to Scardino, but has the added benefit of differentiating this year’s noses from years past. Red Nose Day organizers in the UK have noticed that changing the noses each year creates a collectability factor that encourages more year-to-year purchases, Scardino said. Red Nose Day USA will look to feature a new nose again in 2019. The sale of red noses and related merchandise pulled in $7.6 million in 2017.

Victoria Beckham has also designed a Spice Girls T-shirt, riffing off of a similar shirt available in the UK featuring The Beatles. All proceeds from the shirt, available on Omaze, will go to the cause. Beckham’s 20 million Instagram followers also suit Red Nose Day USA’s broadened social-media strategy. Research has shown that Red Nose Day USA appeals best with Millennials, parents ages 30 to 40, and women ages 50 and up. Audience-targeted social media and digital initiatives will include Snapchat capabilities embedded into NBC programs, passive donations with Humble Bundle purchases, and voice-activated donating with Amazon Pay and Alexa.

“This year, what’s different is we are working with almost every platform, but in a way that is super targeted,” said Scardino.

Other events include the “Nose to Nose” campaign in which two individuals don red noses and place them against one another for a photo that is shared on social media. Comic Relief USA leaders have attended baseball games, soccer matches, and WrestleMania to encourage the campaign. Regional events in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, and, later this week, New York City have been held to promote Red Nose Day and celebrate community heroes. A complete town takeover was held in Montclair, N.J., including a Red Nose Day declaration.

“This was new, it was a way for us to capture a lot of content and news coverage,” Scardino said.


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