An oversized "care package" with a tall streetlight rising out the top popped up Monday on a sidewalk in Atlanta. The sender -- according to the bright orange logo on the white, 4-by-6-foot wooden box -- was Care, the humanitarian agency that raises funds to fight global poverty.
But there was no food -- just the black lamppost and a printed message informing passersby that donations to Care fund essentials such as electricity for places experiencing disaster or poverty.
It was one of nine such displays installed around Atlantic Station, a retail-entertainment-residential-office center in the city where Care has its U.S. headquarters. The boxes were strategically placed in the high-traffic complex as part of a new branding campaign created by Pittsburgh advertising agency Brunner.
The campaign's tag line, "Deliver lasting change," was inspired by the iconic Care package filled with food and supplies that the organization began delivering to Europe when that continent was rebuilding after World War II, said Rob Schapiro, chief creative officer for Downtown-based Brunner.
"The idea was to leverage the equity that we felt would help differentiate Care from all the other great charitable organizations out there. Care had the Care package. It's a rare and precious thing to have that kind of equity," said Mr. Schapiro.
While the baby boom generation likely associates Care with the packages that first arrived in France in 1946 and eventually went beyond Europe to destinations such as Korea and other parts of Asia, the agency hasn't sent food and supplies to struggling countries since 1968, said Tolli Love, vice president, individual fundraising and marketing for Care USA.
"In the early 1970s, we transitioned to projects and in the 1980s to sustainable solutions," she said.
Specifically, Care now raises funds that target education and programs that empower women and girls in poverty-stricken communities in Africa and elsewhere. It also provides emergency response to places struck by natural disasters, such as the Haiti earthquake and the recent typhoon in the Philippines.
"We continue to provide humanitarian relief; we just don't send packages," she said.
For the fiscal year ended in June 2012, the nonprofit generated contributions totaling $541.6 million.
The organization sought to reposition its brand this year, Ms. Love said, in order to strengthen its message that it now works to fund long-term solutions for people and communities in need.
"As a nonprofit, fundraising is limited. We need new and proud and loud ways to really stand out," she said. "With our heritage, reputation and history, it's a trusted brand. Everyone's received a care package from Mom at some point. But the package can stand for things way beyond its contents."
Besides the box installations, the $500,000 campaign includes print ads that were rolled out this month in national magazines. The print component also plays off the Care package theme. One ad photographed in rural India features a Care package with a speaker's podium sticking out of it. A young woman in traditional garb stands behind the podium as she addresses a group of village elders.
"The podium is coming out of a small box where it could never be contained," said Mr. Schapiro. "And the woman is speaking to men in a village about social equality."
Brunner, with about 200 employees in offices in Pittsburgh and Atlanta, won the Care account earlier this year and took preliminary campaign materials to focus groups in Atlanta, New York City and San Francisco to test their effectiveness, Mr. Schapiro said.
"We talked with individuals, past donors to Care and donors who had not given to Care. We wanted to make sure it would motivate people to give and we learned they wanted to hear a personal story and understand what their donation would provide."
He believes the campaign makes clear, "when you give to Care, your Care package has no expiration date. It's training or education. It's a gift that lives on."
It's no coincidence the magazine ads appeared this month and the installations were introduced days before Thanksgiving and will be in place through the year-end holiday season.
"This is when people are in a big giving period," Mr. Schapiro said.
Brunner is now working on strategies to roll out the campaign through social media and broadcast mediums, he said.
"I think rebranding, pretty much anything in a nonprofit, has to start with the core," said Anne Sherman, vice president for nonprofit strategy at the Social Impact Exchange, a New York City-based organization that connects nonprofits, funders and foundations for philanthropic initiatives. "What is its mission? What's the vision of what you're trying to get done in the world? What are your core values?"
She described Care as having "a very clear mission and strategy" without any problems it is trying to overcome.
But many nonprofits have felt the need to reposition their brand because of increased competition for donors' dollars and cutbacks by foundations and other funders, she said.
"There's a focus on branding along with transparency, doing more with less, constrained resources and foundations being asked for more grants. Rebranding is part of the professionalization of the [nonprofit] sector and a reflection of how much harder and competitive it has become to be a sustainable nonprofit."
Joyce Gannon: email@example.com or 412-263-1580.