Pass it on Featured

10:02am EDT July 22, 2002

The holiday season has allowed Columbus advertising agency Young Isaac Inc. to spread cheer - and provide evidence of the firm's mission: to craft messages that change behavior.

"The behavior we wanted to inspire was charitable giving, and we wanted to do it in a way that didn't toot our own horn as much as give our recipients the direct experience of giving," says agency President Artie Isaac.

In 1995 and 1996, the firm sent $5 checks, with the payee line left blank, to its A-list of customers, friends and prospects, encouraging them to fill in the name of a charity of their choice and forward it to that organization.

Isaac says similar direct mail pieces generally garner a 2 or 3 percent response rate, but of the approximately 1,000 checks he mailed over the course of those two years, more than 50 percent were forwarded to charities.

The project cost Isaac less than $5,000 each year, including the design, printing and postage of the direct mail piece, plus the donations. His agency also received positive publicity and kudos from clients-who often increased their donation by adding a second check of their own.

In an effort to increase the participation rate in 1997 and this year, Isaac's chosen a different route, sending tangible gifts that he says could be "directed to charities and other happy secondary recipients."

"We are unwilling to have anything less than 100 percent redemption," he adds.