Elizabeth Banks - AHA

Heart Assn., cancer fund see a spike in giving thanks to the work of marketing company

You’re a big star who wants to work for a cause, and you have a personal story tied to the cause, but where do you start? Try CK&D, an L.A.-based marketing and media firm that is helping Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations spread awareness by connecting charities with celebrities such as Allison Janney, Seth Rogen and Ken Jeong.

Last year, Elizabeth Banks starred in a short film about women and heart disease for the American Heart Assn. The film was both poignant and comedic. And in March, Terrence Howard spearheaded the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Sons and Mothers campaign, delivering an emotional public service announcement about the loss of his mother to the disease.

“Our job is to assess what celebrities care about. Banks had two female family members with heart conditions so she was invested in the cause, which makes what we do genuine,” says Judi Ketcik, who co-founded CK&D with partners Susan and Eric Carlson and Jesse Dylan.

Response to CK&D’s socially conscious branding has been overwhelming. According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, there was a 20% increase in gifts made to the group in March compared with a year ago. The org credited the fundraising increase to the high visibility of Howard’s PSA.

The shop takes a creative, hands-on approach to its projects. For the AHA’s clip with Banks, “CK&D created the concept and oversaw the project from start to finish,” says Ketcik, “Elizabeth had a lot of input into the script development.” The firm worked with screenwriter Kate Kondell, and recruited Banks to direct and star. CK&D similarly created the campaign and wrote copy for the Howard print ad.

Jeong, best known for his comic chops in the “Hangover” trilogy and NBC’s “Community,” is also a licensed physician, and put his medical and comedic skills to use for the AHA by demonstrating how to perform hands-only CPR accompanied by the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” which has the correct beat for chest compressions.

The Jeong video is part of the AHA’s White Suit campaign, now in its fourth year, created by CK&D. “We secured the rights from Paramount Pictures to use the famous white suit silhouette from ‘Saturday Night Fever,’” says Ketcik.

CK&D finds success in lacing a serious message with humor. That formula seems to be working, as the video has racked up more than 1.1 million views since its launch in 2011.

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