Weber Shandwick created Slam the Can for Dare to Care, a comprehensive incentive program to generate enthusiasm among employees and increase donations to the city’s local food bank. The program was designed to spark competition among employees and capitalize on the community's fierce enthusiasm for college basketball play-offs, otherwise known as “March Madness.” The 16 B&W employees donating the largest number of canned goods during the two-and-a-half week collection period participated in a series of wacky basketball contests at a downtown shopping mall, with the winner receiving two tickets to the NCAA championship games. Themed support materials and a related employee team competition rounded out the promotion. The project has been a resounding success, with donations rising significantly each year the company has sponsored the event - from 400 cans collected in 1996 prior to Weber Shandwick’s involvement, to more then 77,000 in 2000!


Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation takes great pride in its involvement in charitable causes. Top management had been disappointed when its 1996 canned good drive to benefit Dare To Care netted only 400 cans of food, less than one can per employee. Brown & Williamson asked Weber Shandwick to create an incentive program to encourage a higher level of involvement and help meet the company's Y2K goal of 60,000 cans of food.


  • To increase employee participation in the annual charitable canned good drive to benefit Dare to Care
  • To promote Brown & Williamson’s commitment to Louisville
  • To garner media coverage for Brown & Williamson on behalf of the Slam the Can for Dare to Care program
  • To instill a strong sense of pride and generate enthusiasm for charitable giving in Brown & Williamson employees 
  • To create excitement and encourage participation by the general public


Weber Shandwick developed a comprehensive plan, including support materials for team captains (mini basketballs and nets, clipboards with contest rules attached, charts for tracking results and promotional flyers for distribution to employees). The on-site coordinator received a large display chart to be updated daily with the names of the top 16 can-donors. A giant receptacle filled with canned goods was set up in the lobby to entice employees to bring in their cans.

The day of the tournament, employees and winners gathered in the Louisville Galleria for “hot hoops action.” The mall’s atrium was turned into a mock basketball arena. The University of Kentucky “Wildcat” and University of Louisville “Cardinal Bird” mascots were hired to bring all the cheers and jeers expected from a high-caliber sporting event. With Jock Jams music ringing through the atrium, players set out to compete in a series of competitions, including the “Sweet Sixteen,” the “Elite Eight,” and the “Final Four.”

A cheering competition was developed and implemented on tournament day to encourage friendly rivalry between floors, generate enthusiasm among employees and draw an even greater mall crowd than in years’ past. Weber Shandwick developed a catchy team name for each of the 16 floor captains (e.g., Terri and the Trey Makers) and designed and produced signs for the team captains to use on event day. A company-wide e-mail message was distributed to each floor’s team captain prior to the tournament, challenging each captain to develop a creative cheer to yell when called upon at strategic points during the tournament. A decibel meter was secured to measure the volume of cheers, with the loudest floor receiving a pizza party.

Another new initiative created by the Weber Shandwick team for the Y2K Slam the Can Tournament was a public participation event held at the Louisville Galleria. Officials of the 1999 tournament had received numerous requests by passers-by to participate in the “employee only” tournament. While officials did not want to compromise the tradition of this event, they recognized an opportunity in allowing the public to participate in the excitement. This public event took place for three days leading up to tournament day, and was designed to raise additional money for Dare to Care, generate awareness of the upcoming tournament among the public and garner additional pre-event news coverage for Brown & Williamson. During a two-hour time frame strategically set around typical business lunch hours, the public was encouraged to test their jump shot at a revolving basketball goal for a $2 donation to Dare to Care. The individual receiving the most points within a thirty second time period was awarded the ultimate NCAA party kit - a basket loaded with enough goodies to satisfy a party of twenty people.

Weber Shandwick developed numerous opportunities to secure coverage on behalf of the event. In the weeks leading up to the event, Weber Shandwick arranged for a Brown & Williamson spokesperson, along with a Dare to Care representative, to speak on television and radio morning and afternoon programs. Talking points were written to prepare speakers for each occasion. Once the cans were collected, a photo opportunity was arranged as the 77,000 cans were delivered to the warehouse and unloaded. Finally, just prior to event day, Weber Shandwick successfully pitched the public participation event to local media.


The program was an unqualified success from all standpoints. There was a significant increase in employee participation, with nearly all 600 employees donating cans. In 2000, donations totaled more than 77,000 cans - a 108% improvement over the previous year's total of 71,000 and a 128% increase over B&W's goal of 60,000 cans. The largest single donor alone contributed 4,000 cans. In addition, Brown & Williamson used the occasion to make a $50,000 corporate contribution to Dare To Care and was recognized by local media and the general public as a champion in the fight against hunger.

The company received excellent media coverage surrounding the public participation event, the tournament and the monetary donation, with more than 18.5 minutes of TV coverage spanning a two-week period. Coverage included live shots and interviews during the public participation event and scheduled morning show appearances at which a company representative talked about the program and challenged other area employers to develop similar plans.
Employee pride and enthusiasm was evident in both personal testimonials given during the tournament and in video footage from the tournament that captured the positive emotions inspired by this program.