Giving Out Cash On The Street Wasn’t A Great Idea

Marketing | Artists |Hollywood

Creative Leveraging

Image credit: Tree Langdon

Imagine our surprise when we were invited to the 2019 Emmy awards swag event.

It was a great opportunity for our small jewelry business but for some reason it made me uncomfortable. I realized it was great exposure. After all, how many people do you know that have gone to an Emmy event?

In my heart, I felt heavy.

I realized I felt a bit weird because we were giving to people who were already successful. They’d achieved fame and fortune and could afford to buy what they wanted.

We’d committed to gift 120 products to nominees.

We decided to make silver rings for the event and worked on them for weeks. Each piece was hand crafted and individually packaged with a business card inside. That way, we hoped to connect with the person who would receive it.

We made them in batches of twenty and it was a lot of work. Several times we questioned our sanity and wondered if the whole thing would be worth it.

Eventually each ring was nestled in a gold box with our logo inside and placed in a box, ready to leave for Hollywood. After a dinner of toast and soup, we went to bed early, in an attempt to get some rest.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Then I had the dream.

I was walking down the street in Hollywood and couldn’t find the venue. It was one of those dreams where you forget the combination to your locker; you know the kind, right?

You can’t find your keys, or figure out something that you already know, or you are suddenly naked in a public place. I was digging in my purse, trying to find the map, and there were too many things in there. I was sorting through them and things kept spilling out onto the ground. I kept picking them up, still searching for the map.

When I looked up, I saw a man sitting at the side of the street with his head in his hands. He was obviously distraught and my first reaction was to dig in my purse for a Tim Horton’s card. (Tim Horton’s is a popular chain of coffee shops where I live.) I always gave them to people when they asked me for money. With the card, they could buy a coffee and a sandwich.

Then I realized I didn’t have any.

I was in a different country, so I’d left the cards at home. When I looked up, the man was walking up a steep bank, so I followed him. When I got to the top, he was sitting at a picnic table with his family. He’d shaken it off, and was acting happy and telling jokes while they ate their lunch. I walked up to him and handed him all the cash I had.

Immediately, I was filled with a rush of joy so powerful that it woke me up.

“Wow,” I thought. “That was some dream.” I realized I had to do something with it, but I wasn’t sure what.

Later that day, while I was walking in my neighbourhood, I realized the number 120 was important. We were giving 120 items to celebrities, so I thought, ‘what if we gave the same number of cards to people in need?’

That’s when the 120 Project began.

I created 120 small cards, with an inspirational message and wanted to include a bit of cash as well. I called my bank and ordered 120 five dollar US bills. When I went to pick them up, the teller counted them out — all 120. She managed to get them into an envelope and handed them to me.

“What are you going to do with these?”

When I told her I was going to give them away to people in need, she said “my brother in law is with the local TV station, they love this kind of story. Is it ok if I call him?”

That night, we were on the local news.

Local Artist Selected for Emmy Event”, was the headline but the coverage also focused on the 120 Project.

Next I had to figure out how to give away the money. I didn’t think it was wise to stand on the street in Hollywood, giving away envelopes of money. It was time to contact a local organization.

I made arrangements to give the envelopes to a group called Youth Emerging Stronger. They help homeless youth and youth in need in the Hollywood area.They were delighted with the gift.

The buzz around the 120 Project shifted the energy of the trip.

We were no longer going to Hollywood to give things to people who were well off, we were going to give help to people that needed it.

The side effect was exposure in our local market as well as in Hollywood. That was a bonus.

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