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The University of Washington came to us with a specific problem. They had a fundraising goal coming up at the end of the year, and they needed to prime the pump. At our first meeting, they explained that they wanted to do radio, television, and display advertising. It all sounded great until they said they wanted to make the radio and television commercials a donut.


“Donut” commercials have a standard open and close, with new material rotated in the middle. It’s a classic structure used by retailers for price and item commercials. Technically it could be done, but we knew it wasn’t what they needed. They needed more time to tell their story. We proposed showing the impact the UW was having on people outside the university through programs that changed real people’s lives.


Talking about subjects like cancer research, improving the quality of life for seniors, and assistance for minority-owned businesses struck a chord with the community. The university met its goal of raising $2 billion in donations, and the campaign earned a national award, a Silver Telly (the Telly Awards highest honor), for writing and directing.

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