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NEW: RI Foundation Launches Statewide ‘Backyard’ Campaign

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Fred Butler, Jorge Elorza and Bert Crenca join Rhode Island Foundation CEO Neil Steinberg at the launch of a new statewide marketing campaign designed to change the way Rhode Islanders talk about the state.

The Rhode Island Foundation today launched a statewide marketing campaign designed to celebrate Rhode Island and highlight the state’s people, organizations, businesses and industries.

“Rhode Island: It’s All in Our Backyard” will feature television and radio ads, billboards, bus shelter posters, web banner and tile ads and posters, signs and widow decals at T.F Green Airport.

Changing the Rhode Islanders think about their state

“This is an internal marketing campaign designed to change the way Rhode Islanders talk about their state," said Neil Stenberg, the Foundation's president and CEO. "There are plenty of successes to feel good about right here in our own backyard -- global industry and cutting-edge innovation, thriving entrepreneurship, world-class universities and a vibrant arts and culture scene," he said.

“The state has a self-esteem problem. Backyard is a fact-based campaign that uses the real stories of real people to remind us of all the good things that are happening here,” Stenberg said.

Campaign preview at PPAC

The Foundation rolled out the campaign at the Providence Performing Arts Center for close to 200 business leaders, policymakers, tourism officials, academics and others committed to improving Rhode Island's economy.

“Our Backyard aims to shift the tone of the conversation in Rhode Island, so we can engage in more productive discussions about how to address the real challenges we face," said Jessica David, the Foundation's vice president of strategy and public affairs.

The campaign includes a web site -- ourbackyardri.com -- that features videos highlighting success stories such as Armando Nieves, a small businessman who owns two neighborhood meat markets, and Brown University scientist Jeff Morgan, who invented a 3D Petri dish that is manufactured in Rhode Island and sold around the world.

Rhode Island manufacturing companies speaking up

Cheryl Merchant, president and CEO of Hope Global, is another of the Rhode Islanders who are featured in the campaign. The Cumberland manufacturer is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year.

"Manufacturing has always been a base and a core of the American and Rhode Island economies," she said. "And now it's on a new wave. It's innovative; the processes are at a whole new level, speed and sophistication. At Hope Global, we are using lasers, ultra-sonics, and computerized cutting tables in the manufacture of textiles for many industries.

"Hope Global was actually awarded all of Red Wing Boots’ business in China and the USA. We brought this business back to Rhode Island and now ship Timberland, Red Wing and Wolverine boot laces to China, as well as the USA," said Merchant. "To meet added engineering performance requirements, we've made them with pull strength and UV testing and anti-wicking and all the things you wouldn't think you would do to just a simple shoelace."

Below, see a billboard version of the campaign, also unveiled today. 

Call out to Rhode Islanders: share your successes

The Foundation is also encouraging Rhode Islanders to share their own success stories on the campaign's web site and social media including Twitter using the hashtag #ourbackyardri.

Backyard’s funding comes from the Foundation, the R.I. Commodores, Delta Dental of R.I. and the Victor and Gussie Baxt Fund at the Foundation. In addition, a host of companies including Channel 6, Channel 10, Channel 12, Clear Channel Media, Cox Communications, Full Channel, Lamar, the R.I. Airport Corporation and Verizon have donated advertising space, time and other services.

The Foundation worked in partnership with Basics Group and MYRANDA Group as creative and communications consultants on the campaign.

Backyard is an outgrowth of the Foundation’s economic development initiative, Make It Happen RI, which last year brought together more than 300 private sector and community leaders to brainstorm ways to jumpstart the state economy.

Supported through the Foundation’s Civic Leadership Fund, Make It Happen RI identified six major themes that emerged from the working sessions, including promoting Rhode Island inside the state.

The Foundation also announced a commitment of $1 million above its regular grantmaking to fund ideas and projects stemming from Make It Happen RI. So far, 16 projects have received more than $800,000 in funding. 


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