LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Got muscle? America’s muscle charity, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, is transforming the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon this weekend by integrating a simple yet highly memorable gesture throughout the 21½-hour show. The gesture is so powerful that MDA, with help from its advertising agency E.B. Lane, already has packaged it into an extraordinary public service advertising campaign that’s equally popular with broadcast, print, outdoor and Internet media outlets.
So, when some 40 million Americans watch the Telethon Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-6, they will see more than outstanding entertainment by exceptional performers. They will be reminded of how vital public support is to MDA’s lifesaving mission as they witness celebrity after celebrity, and sponsor after sponsor, “Make A Muscle, Make A Difference” for the families served by MDA.
The flexing of biceps muscles will become a signature move for the Telethon, and for MDA’s year-round branding effort. This is not surprising, because the innovative “Make A Muscle, Make A Difference” PSA campaign already has been featured on NBC’s “Today” show and is being published frequently by notable magazines and newspapers including Time, Business Traveler, Parade, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
“Some charities have ribbons. Others have rubber bracelets or pins,” said MDA President & CEO, and Telethon Executive Producer Gerald C. Weinberg. “Thanks to excellent creative, featuring caring celebrities as well as business and civic leaders, we’re giving a new meaning to one of the world’s most powerful gestures. The symbolism of flexing a bicep to help people with muscle-damaging diseases is powerful.”
According to Steve Farella, chairman and CEO of TargetCast tcm, “The Association already has enjoyed more than $12 million in public service advertising for its ‘Make A Muscle, Make A Difference’ campaign. The message is visually strong and resonates with every demographic.” Farella, whose firm has been encouraging media outlets to help advance MDA’s research and services programs by dedicating unsold advertising space to MDA, added, “Who doesn’t understand ‘Join the fight. Be the next to flex for MDA.’”
A volunteer member of the MDA Board of Directors, Farella underscored that “special recognition should be given to iheartradio.com and to the 845 Clear Channel radio stations which have been aggressively promoting MDA and its new ‘Make A Muscle’ campaign. Clear Channel is such an amazing partner that it even launched and promoted the innovative ‘Get Discovered!’ competition that found four new acts for the Telethon.”
The growing roster of celebrity MDA Muscle Team members already includes: Alison Sweeney, host of NBC's “The Biggest Loser” and “Days of Our Lives” star; Natalie Morales of NBC’s “Today” show; Nancy O’Dell, Emmy-winning entertainment personality, author and entrepreneur; Booboo Stewart, star of “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” movie; WWE Superstar Triple H; Kurt Warner, former NFL Super Bowl-winning quarterback; Grammy-nominated recording artist Ace Young; country music legend Wynonna Judd; Olympic Gold medalists Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci; actor and entertainer Brandon Barash of ABC’s “General Hospital”; guitar virtuoso and entertainer Charo; Emmy-winning journalist and independent producer Jann Carl; and Harold A. Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
To more fully capitalize on the “Make A Muscle, Make A Difference” that appeals to every age group, the Association is maintaining its time-tested Telethon call centers, and online giving options, while also adding a high-tech, high-touch donation option for Telethon viewers who enjoy texting.
Cell phone users simply can text “MDA” at 20222 to make a $10 contribution to MDA that will be added to their mobile phone bill. “There’s no need for text enthusiasts to get out their credit cards and call in a pledge,” explained Weinberg. “They can be the next to flex for MDA by just texting ‘MDA’ to 20222.”
An organization with a rich history of innovation and service, MDA is the first charity to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Medical Association (“for significant and lasting contributions to the health and welfare of humanity”).
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.