NBC Universal teams with Food Bank Canada on ‘ABCs of Hunger’

GE-owned mediaco pitches in with a PSA, airtime, and a place of honour on upcoming DVD releases.

In a new partnership, Food Banks Canada has teamed up with NBC Universal Canada to create a mass-distributed, 30-second PSA.

The partnership is part of the GE Volunteers program, a charitable arm of the corp headed up in Canada by Universal’s VP of marketing Richard Bicknell. GE Volunteers offers up its corporate expertise to non-profits in anything from accounting to entertainment production, and this year, the program chose to throw its weight behind Food Banks Canada.

Recognizing that the organization lacked the big brand image of the United Way or Habitat for Humanity, Bicknell says he realized there was a huge opportunity to not only help the food bank produce a high-quality PSA, but to help get it seen as well. The result is a 30-second PSA called ‘The ABCs of Hunger,’ featuring children of Universal employees. Creative, production and post was handled internally by Bicknell, Toronto-based director Andrew Honor, and NBC Universal Canada staff.

The spot, which officially debuts today at a private showing, will be distributed to networks to vie for PSA airtime, but will also be broadcast via the ‘bonus’ time allotted to Universal as part of its paid media buys handled by MPG Toronto for its movie releases such as next week’s release of the Public Enemies DVD. It will also be included in media buys for other Universal releases throughout December and January, and will be included on the physical DVD of Couples Retreat, which comes out in February.

The full value of the Public Enemies-assisted media strategy is about 12 million impressions and a $250,000 campaign value, Bicknell told MiC, adding that the Couples Retreat DVD will also ship ‘hundreds of thousands’ of copies. He hopes to continue to utilize DVD releases to distribute the message throughout 2010. In the months to come, there will also be an online element to the media campaign, although details have not been finalized yet.

The goal in the spot’s creative – featuring children listing the negative effects of hunger – was to really stress that a large percentage of users of the food banks are children, Bicknell said.

‘One thing we zeroed in on was the staggering numbers that Food Bank Canada deals with on a monthly basis,’ he explained. ’800,000 Canadians use a food bank every month and 36% of those are children. Those are compelling numbers. We really wanted to drive that message home.’