Integrated Campaign for Branding, Philanthropy & PR

Case Study: Develops an Integrated Campaign for Branding, Philanthropy & PR


The Ballast Group was approached by a national creative staffing firm to design an integrated campaign for its 20th anniversary celebration. We first examined the company’s stakeholders and worked with the CEO to prioritize the top three: commercial artists; corporate and agency clients; and the NYC and Chicago communities in which the professional services firm operates.

The Ballast Group created a concept called “The Match that Gives Back” for Artisan to award $25,000 to a nonprofit that could best articulate how its mission supported the communities it served. In the industry’s first creative design competition like this, fees were awarded to a winning designer to help rebrand the top nonprofit.

More than 100 NYC and Chicago nonprofits were invited to enter the competition. A pool of hundreds of artistic talent was narrowed to the top three competing to win the work. A panel of prestigious national judges was assembled from The Art Institute, Parsons New School of Design, Columbia College, AON, Alberto Culver, Motorola, United Airlines, United Way, Taproot Foundation, and more. The panel chose Snow City Arts, a Chicago nonprofit focused on the arts, design, education and children. The competition culminated with an event at the River East Art Center to announce the winning “Match” of Snow City Arts with designer David Weik. The talent and clients celebrated 20 years with Artisan by toasting with the signature cocktail, “The Artisan’s Muse,” created by author and master mixologist, Bridget Albert.

Artisan recognized a few challenges such as the need to creatively reinforce to clients and prospects the breadth and depth of its capabilities since 1988. The firm also desired a more targeted philanthropic effort that was aligned with its brand and that helped it look at its stakeholders and assets in a different way. 

This initiative better aligned Artisan’s brand of “Matching Talent with Success.®” It served as a stronger philanthropic strategy and garnered national exposure. Artisan’s story was sharpened with a platform of:

  • Accomplishing a sustainable business model and surprising the marketplace by doing something good in one of the worst economies ever
  • Securing more awareness from its stakeholders: commercial artists, companies, agencies, design firms and the communities in which Artisan operates
  • Gaining national exposure to 600+ nonprofits and artists invited to enter “The Match,” and securing a panel of judges from the business, academia, design and philanthropic communities
  • Entrenching the CEO, also an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, more into his target audience of commercial artists and corporate creatives
  • Positioning Artisan for business expansion 

Here is an example of an integrated campaign for branding, philanthropy and PR. Artisan’s new CRM tool, blog and dedicated “Match” microsite helped tell the story to thousands of people. Four key sponsors were secured to further brand the initiative and to help offset the program’s venue, media, beverage and printing costs by tens of thousands of dollars. Relationships were built with trade and Chicago business and lifestyle media. The national trade publications HOW, Graphic Design USA, and Creativity magazine gave credence to Artisan’s “The Match that Gives Back” competition.