David Hessekiel: Tell me a bit about the professional journey that led to your position at Share Our Strength.
Diana Hovey: Prior to joining Share Our Strength in 2015, I worked in many different areas of the restaurant industry. Over the course of 30 years, I’ve had the opportunity to lead marketing, branding and advertising strategies for several major restaurant brands, including On the Border, Romano’s Macaroni Grill and more.
I was drawn to Share Our Strength when I was Marketing Director for Corner Bakery Cafe, which was part of the restaurant’s annual fundraiser for the No Kid Hungry campaign, known as “Dine for No Kid Hungry”. I was truly inspired by the fact that being part of this marketing initiative was so much more than just the partnership itself – it’s the mutual benefit of enhancing each other’s efforts and ultimately support children. We were able to achieve critical business goals while providing guests and employees a way to get involved in an important cause that really touched them. The restaurant industry is all about feeding people, and partnering with No Kid Hungry has helped me see the bigger picture; we can work together to help make a difference, not only for our stakeholders, but also for the lives of children in communities across the country.
David Hessekiel: Share Our Strength recently launched a major campaign called “Food is the most important school supply” with many business partners. How does this program work?
Diana Hovey: Many children in the United States rely on school for more than just an education, it’s where they depend to receive their daily source of nutrition, which is an essential part of their success. That’s why we unite our partners and consumers to help ensure that all children have access to the most important school supply: food. When consumers value their money by dining or shopping with brands that support No Kid Hungry, it generates funds to advance our work. This could include support for essential meal programs, like school breakfast, so children can succeed in the classroom and in everyday life.
We are delighted that nearly 40 partners from various sectors are joining us in this effort. Citi, Arby’s Foundation, Shop LC, Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Vita Coco are just a few of our partners offering promotions and limited time items to benefit No Kid Hungry. The full list of participating partners is available at NoKidHungry.org/BrandsThatGive.
David Hessekiel: Historically, Share Our Strength has been well known for large in-person events involving the food industry, but I was surprised that “Food is the most important school supply” is a digital-first campaign, even if the worst of COVID seems to be behind us. Why?
Diana Hovey: That’s right, we first switched to digital campaigns as a necessity when the pandemic hit. Like the rest of the world, we were challenged to redesign our campaigns in a way that would still engage our partners and supporters and provide opportunities to rally behind our cause. We were faced with the question: how can we still present ourselves, generate critical funds and advance our work in this changing environment?
With last year’s ‘Rebuild’ campaign, we saw that the digital landscape gave us the opportunity to reimagine this work in exciting ways. This allowed us to create a more targeted and personalized campaign to reach key audiences. It also gave us the flexibility to make quick adjustments to get the best results. For example, if a post or piece of content is performing particularly well, we are able to reallocate our resources to further amplify those efforts. Only the digital space provides this kind of real-time feedback. And while we’re always big fans of in-person events, I have to say that the ability to create campaigns that span multiple cities, showcase the work of local partners and businesses across the country, and Reaching families directly on their devices is pretty amazing. .
David Hessekiel: How have partners and consumers reacted?
Diana Hovey: We were delighted to see overwhelmingly positive feedback from consumers and partners. Many of our partners focus on digital-first engagements themselves, making their integration into the campaign seamless.
One of our long-time partners, The Habit Burger Grill, is a great example. As part of “Food is the most important school supply”, they are launching a digital roundup campaign that benefits No Kid Hungry. They realize the importance of technology and meet people where they are; Additionally, given the challenges the restaurant industry has faced over the past few years, going digital is an easier approach for their employees. When it comes to consumers, they want to give back and they want to do it in a convenient way, so it’s really a win-win.
David Hessekiel: Do you think you’ll be hosting big in-person event series again?
Diana Hovey: We love the opportunities to engage with consumers and partners face-to-face, so in-person events aren’t ruled out for the future, but we’ve also seen great success going the digital route so far. I imagine the future may include a combination of both approaches, and we’re excited to continue exploring this path with our partners to see where it takes us. For now, stay tuned for spring when we’ll be launching another digital first campaign!