Like so many public school systems throughout the United States, Chicago’s schools were at risk of losing funding for the arts. Many schools were already without art or music courses. To help prevent further cuts and to bring back arts education to the schools without it, Damen Jackson, in partnership with Latz & Co. and Ingenuity, developed and initiated Be Creative: A Campaign for Chicago Arts Education.
The project began with Ingenuity, a 501c organization tapped by Chicago Public Schools to gather and disperse a three-year funding initiative to restore sustainable arts education throughout the school system. This funding was would be collected from the private sector alone until the City of Chicago was in the position to legally mandate public taxes provide the necessary funds to maintain arts education. Ingenuity hired Latz & Co. as their strategic fundraising partner and Damen Jackson for branding and marketing support.
The success of the three-way partnership and DJ’s brand marketing leadership allowed the Be Creative campaign to procure several million dollars of commitments within the first 12 months—long before the campaign went public.
The branding development began by naming the campaign itself. Because so many other school systems across the nation were challenged in the same way and had embarked on their own campaigns, finding a suitable and original name proved to be a challenge. We relied on the basics and raw honesty of what this campaign sought to do. Be Creative was selected, and the tagline, The Campaign for Chicago Arts Education was applied to help identify the cause in leave-behind materials and all other communication.
Identity development focused on simplicity and sophistication instead of using child-like fingerpaints and crayons. This initiative was not as much about the now as it was about the future.
There was a major push to validate the impact arts education has in everyday life; how it makes students excited about learning and attending class, how it teaches unique problem solving skills and trains the mind to think beyond the boundaries placed before us in all areas of life as a kid and as an adult. We generated messaging through a focus on stories from those who are most positively affected by arts education including the students, teachers, administrators and parents.
DESIGN & VISUAL EXPRESSION
Damen Jackson coordinated a day-long series of interviews with those most greatly affected to create a short film about their personal experiences and the incredible importance of funding this campaign. Using the identity element building blocks such as colorful circles, we created all of the campaign’s marketing communication materials such as campaign update eblast templates, newsletters, notecards, thank you cards, the campaign website and the leave behind portfolios.