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PITBULL Believes in Change: 'The Real Change Project' For Adopt a Classroom

Editor's Note: This monthly spotlight focused on Celebrity and Cause is brought to you by partner WarpSpeed.

Inspirational commitment of international recording artist PITBULL and other stars join Office Depot for impressive cause marketing promotion of National Teacher Appreciation Week

The Issue

National Teacher Appreciation Week is this week, May 6-10, 2013.  Today, 92% of teachers spend an average of $1,000 of their own money on school supplies.  This equates to more than $1.3 billion dollars annually spent by teachers on their own students.  Office Depot recognized this trend and identified a need that could be uniquely addressed by their company. Born out of this focus, The Real Change Project is a cause marketing effort linking Office Depot, nonprofit Adopt a Classroom and celebrity talent.

The Real Change Project

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To extend the reach and appeal of this campaign, Executive producer Liam Murphy created an inspirational broadcast TV special featuring celebrities giving back to their former schools. Stars including Quincy Jones, Justin Beiber, Jason Mraz, Miley Cyrus and LMFAO’s Mathew Morrison told their unique story involving a teacher, encouraging viewers to donate to Adopt a Classroom with all donations matched by Office Depot.  The hour-long special aired April 23 on many CBS television stations nationwide and can currently be viewed at LiveRealChange.com.  Impact resulting from the campaign extends beyond Office Depot matching donations:  Mylie Cyrus donated a piano to her former middle school and as part of the launch of this campaign, a $25,000 donation of supplies including books, a projector and Samsung tablets were given to the students at Long Beach High School in New York, a school heavily impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

PITBULL:  A Story of Inspiration

Pitbull adopts a classroom

Armando Christian Perez, better known as international music sensation Pitbull, told perhaps the most moving story of all.  Behind the man who has sold millions of records is an authentic story of a teacher making a difference in his life.  Pitbull explained that he is an example how one teacher impacting one student’s dream can have a profound change on our world.  It all began with his teacher Hope Martinez recognizing a talent in Perez.  Martinez only taught school for one year but in that short time, she empowered him in a way no other person ever had.  He gives credit to her for changing his life and therefore indirectly changing the lives of millions of others in the world.

Our view – What Can we Learn from This

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1. The right partners can make an incredible difference.

This is not the first time celebrities returned to their schools regarding the issue of lack of funding in our public schools.  The real key here was bringing like-minded organizations together – Office Depot, a natural partner as a leading retailer of school supplies; Adopt A Classroom and their simple focus of one class at a time; Liam Murphy of Real Change Productions, having grown up with two teacher parents; and compelling stories featuring high profile celebrities.  Broadcast TV was the powerful medium, along with online and in-store promotions, provided an integrated effort and awareness during a theme week.

2. Authenticity rules.

This was not a paid endorsement or a PR play for Pitbull but rather part of his DNA. Hope Martinez changed Pitbull’s life, evidenced by the fact that he recognizes her anytime he wins an award.  Pitbull embraces the responsibility that comes with celebrity: giving back to impact change.

3. What's good for teachers can be good for business.

This cause marketing campaign is another great example that what is good business is also good for business.  The special not only raises the profile of Office Depot by aligning them with huge superstars but also naturally and implicitly encourages socially conscious consumers to shop at socially responsible retailer Office Depot.