One of the more unusual mandates given to our Global Issues team was to promote sales of one-of-a-kind, hand-woven baskets for Macy's Rwanda: Path to Peace project. The baskets were the creation of a remarkable group of women who had survived the Rwandan genocide of 1994 -- former enemies who had embraced their ancestral art of basket weaving to build a path to peace, reconciliation and economic health. The objective of the campaign was clear: bring the story of Rwandan women's lives, struggles and dreams directly to American consumer and communicate, in a compelling way, how their purchases could directly benefit women and their families.
Using extraordinary video, photographic and written materials gathered in Rwanda, we sought to demonstrate how basket sales were directly improving the daily lives of the women who created them, tying them directly to the positive impact their business was having on the economic stability and security of post-genocide Rwanda. The ensuing national media campaign received coverage in more than 100 print and broadcast stories, including AP, New York Times and Los Angeles Times
Besides generating extensive visibility for the product, the media coverage provided Macy's with over $2 million dollars worth of advertising exposure. Macy's sold out of the baskets within four months, and the peace baskets became an ongoing sales initiative. Most importantly, the program empowered thousands of Rwandan women to become economically self-sufficient; hundreds of weavers with HIV/Aids are now in improved health due to better nutrition and increased ability to seek treatment; and school enrollment has increased dramatically in their villages. The success of the "Rwanda: Path to Peace" project has had an unparalleled effect on the lives of these women, providing economic security, respect, and a real future for their children.
Rarely in PR do you have the chance to make such a direct impact on those we seek to influence. We at Finn Partners take seriously the privilege we were afforded in this program and in all those that have come after it.