Red Noses Getting More U.S. Exposure

Red Nose Day USA organizers are looking for the event to be bigger and bolder in Year 3, a strategy becoming of its prime-time television time slot. Increased airtime, a more expansive retail presence, and a social media initiative aimed at converting supporters into fundraisers are among the strategies in place to take the event to another level for its May 25 broadcast on NBC.

“We make it fun to give back, we make it easy,” said Janet Scardino, CEO of Comic Relief Inc., organizer of Red Nose Day USA. “Simple acts of going to a local Walgreens and getting a nose, taking a selfie, doing a fundraiser on Facebook are easy to do. Participation is what we’re focused on — getting more Americans to engage.”

Red Nose Day, which has been a staple in the U.K. for the past three decades, came stateside in 2015. It has since raised $60 million for organizations addressing child poverty, half of funds staying domestically and half going overseas, including $36 million in 2016. Some 20 million Americans engaged with Red Nose Day USA in some way in 2016, according to Scardino, be it on social media, watching the broadcast, donating, or purchasing a red nose and the event garnered 60-percent brand awareness.

The goal this year is to drive deeper engagement and more donations. Social media, where many individuals posted photos of themselves with red noses last year, is one target. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed up to $1 million in matching gifts for donations made through Facebook. Options include setting up a Red Nose Day USA donation page, going live on Facebook from a smartphone and adding a Red Nose Day USA donate button, or using #RedNoseDay or #NosesOn in posts to prompt the option of adding a donate button.

The gift match runs through June 15. “We are hopeful that this becomes a game-changer,” Scardino said of Facebook’s fundraising opportunities.

The event’s exposure has also increased. Red Nose Day USA’s presence in Walgreens stores last year – the event’s corporate partner in selling red noses – was 12 feet within seasonal aisles and at cash registers, said Scardino. Red Nose Day USA has neared a full-store takeover this year with 75 brands present in multiple aisles pledging a portion of sales to Red Nose Day, including Coca Cola and Starbucks.

Airtime has similarly expanded, from two hours of primetime in 2016 to three hours in 2017. The on-air content will include a celebrity edition of “American Ninja Warrior” and a special episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” in which Grylls’ and actress Julia Roberts’ adventure will be transporting vaccines to a rural town in Kenya.

Similar messaging on child health and safety will be interwoven throughout the telecast, culminating in “The Red Nose Day Special” hosted by Chris Hardwick at 10 p.m. E.T. The “crown jewel” of the special will be the airing of “Red Nose Day Actually,” a short sequel to the 2003 comedy “Love Actually,” written and directed by Red Nose Day creator Richard Curtis.

“It’s funny and heartwarming,” Scardino said. “It’s a great night of content and a differentiator.”