The ICSC Blog

Congratulations to CSA Winner Oxford Properties Group’s Edmonton City Centre

Greg BurnsCongratulations to Oxford Properties Group’s Edmonton City Centre, winner of this year’s ICSC Foundation Canadian Community Service Award.

Ovarian Cancer is the most serious of all gynecological cancers. Over 2,600 Canadian women are diagnosed every year and of those 1,750 women succumb to the disease. Symptoms are varied, vague and easily missed and there is no screening test to detect the disease however when it is found early and treated the survival rate is 90%.

Edmonton City Centre collaborated with Ovarian Cancer Canada to develop a multi-layer, month long campaign: Let’s Make Ovarian Cancer Unignorable.  They decked the mall out in teal (the color of ovarian cancer awareness) hosted several teal-centric events, and sold teal scarves with the proceeds going to Ovarian Cancer Canada. They succeeded by bringing mass awareness to ovarian cancer and its overlooked symptoms

This is the second win in a row for Edmonton City Centre. They took top prize in 2012 with their White Out Domestic Violence campaign. Marketing director Greg Burns and the team at Edmonton City Centre are making names for themselves by taking on big issues facing their customers. We wanted to ask Greg what has made their campaigns so successful and advice for shopping centers looking to make an impact in their own communities.

Tell us how you decide the focus of the campaigns. Do your customers guide which charitable organization you work with?

ECC is the only urban shopping centre located in the City of Edmonton and we believe we have an important role to play in championing social causes that are important to both our shoppers, the majority of which are female aged 24-54 years and to the residents that reside and work in the downtown area. We also realize that we can give a powerful voice to important causes as we have the ability to reach over 600,000 people monthly.  In the case of White Out Domestic Violence, the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters sent out letters to numerous local businesses but no one seemed interested in supporting this often hidden and undiscussed problem in our community. When we received their outreach letter, we were shocked by the statistics of domestic violence in our own community and realized that women who were affected by its devastating consequences could be working in our own office towers. We immediately contacted the ACWS and offered the organization our full support and launched a public service campaign that saw 21 on-air personalities from 11 major media outlets in Edmonton unite for the first time to give our “White Out Domestic Violence” a voice. 

In the case of Let’s Make Ovarian Cancer Unignorable I noticed an advertisement in which a woman had teal lips.  Intrigued by the visual I read the ad and realized it was promoting awareness of Ovarian Cancer in the US. I brought the ad to the attention of my Marketing Co-ordinator, Kristin Reid, and together we began researching the disease. We discovered it was the most serious of all gynecological cancers and over 2,600 Canadian women are diagnosed every year and of those 1,750 women succumb to this disease.  We began asking women in our office what they knew about Ovarian Cancer and its symptoms and quickly concluded awareness of this deadly disease was extremely low. It seemed to us that Ovarian Cancer was being overshadowed by its high profiled sister disease, Breast Cancer so we outreached to Ovarian Cancer Canada and that was the beginning of our effort to shine a bright teal spotlight on the disease and most importantly on its vague symptoms.

 

How do you use social media in your community outreach campaigns? How important has social media been in your campaigns’ success and your overall marketing strategy at the center?

 

Like all shopping centres today, social media has become an integral component of all our marketing efforts. In our Let’s Make Ovarian Cancer Unignorable campaign we integrated a “Tagged in Teal” Facebook contest to generate awareness and excitement. We also continued our ovarian cancer conversation on social media and successfully broadened the reach of our campaign by actively posting on ECC’s Facebook page and tweeting with the hashtag #unignorable, generating a total of 150,046 interactions. In fact, an ovarian cancer survivor posted a “Keep Calm and Wear Teal on Tuesdays” poster to our Facebook page, which we loved because all of our in-mall events were titled “Teal Tuesdays”.

 

Based on your customer’s feedback, what elements of your campaigns do they respond most positively to?

Our customers really enjoy and positively respond to our in-mall activities that provide them with a means to actively support and stand in solidarity with our causes. As an urban centre the period between 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM is the busiest time in our day with downtown workers visiting ECC during their lunch hour.  When we develop our programs we always incorporate fun and engaging activities during this time period. In the case of “Let’s Make Ovarian Cancer Unignorable” we hosted four “Teal Tuesday” lunch hour events that attracted over 2,000 participants and each one received an informational brochure on the disease and its symptoms. We also had eight local Ovarian Cancer survivors and a representative from Ovarian Cancer Canada were on hand to chat to women at each event.

 

The purpose of the ICSC Foundation Community Support Awards is to recognize the positive impact shopping centers from around the world have on their communities. What has been the direct effect of this campaign on your community?

The most important community need was education. Little is known about this disease and as a result women were not aware of its deadly symptoms, and when finally diagnosed the disease is generally in its final stages. Throughout our campaign we worked tirelessly to educated women on ovarian cancer and successfully placed over 20,000 ovarian cancer brochures in the hands of women. It is our hope that as a result of these efforts women will seek early medical advice as opposed to ignoring their symptoms.

 

Additionally Ovarian Cancer Canada had an almost non-existent profile in Edmonton. It has no regional office located in the city and as such women do not know where to turn for local support and information. Through our campaign they received mass media exposure for their organization and the support available to women diagnosed with the disease. This was priceless for Ovarian Cancer Canada as they have $0 local marketing or communication budget.

 

What has winning the Community Support Award two years in a row meant to you and the rest of the team at Edmonton City Centre?

Edmonton City Centre has always taken an active leadership role in the City of Edmonton and championed many important causes over the years.  We believe that our centre has an important role to play in promoting positive change in our community and having our cause-related efforts recognized two years in a row through the ICSC’s Community Support Award has been both humbling and overwhelming. But perhaps most importantly it has given our charity partners priceless exposure and the opportunity to continue their important work through the $5,000 grant. And for that we are extremely grateful.

 

The ICSC Foundation Community Support Award recognizes shopping centers around the world for their philanthropic work. Winners are honored at an industry event and are automatically entered in the competition for the highest honor: The Albert Sussman International Community Support Award. Additionally, the ICSC Foundation makes a $5,000 USD grant to the center’s partnering charity. We are honored to contribute $5,000 to Ovarian Cancer Canada.

Thank you to ICSC members for making these Community Support Award program possible. From submitting applications, judging submission and donating to sustain this program, ICSC members make this all possible. For more information about the Community Service Award program.

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