YESS Duck Derby: More ducks, more money

“Every year, on the first Saturday in May, thousands of little rubber ducks are dumped into the pond at Jordan Creek Town Center. Aided by the wind and perhaps their own little rubber sense of competitiveness, the ducks race across the water to the finish line, where the owner of the winner will receive a grand prize of $10,000.

This is the YESS Duck Derby, an annual fundraiser for Youth Emergency Services & Shelter of Des Moines. YESS came to Strategic America looking for ways to keep the Derby relevant and interesting to the public, and our creative and PR teams rose to the occasion.”

Case Study

In its eighth year, the Youth Emergency Services & Shelter’s annual fundraiser, the YESS Duck Derby, needed to find a better way to stay relevant and interesting to the Des Moines Metro community. Strategic America supported YESS with pro bono public relations work for the Duck Derby leading up to the event, which focused on engaging the media and community through a celebrity event and social media.

To pique media interest, SA created a local celebrity competition. Titled the “Duckathlon,” three teams of media and local celebrities participated in an obstacle course of duck-related, carnival-style events. With participants ranging from TV anchors to radio personalities to the Iowa Nice Guy, YESS received coverage on all three of the Des Moines Metro’s TV news programs, totaling more than eight minutes of broadcast coverage.

All participants were encouraged to share their experience on social media, while the winning Duckathlon team was challenged to share photos with a YESS-branded rubber duck on their public social media channels for a day. The celebrity with the most engagements on YESS-related posts got to pull the winning duck out of the water on race day. This led to 10 local celebrities posting about the Duck Derby nearly 30 times.

SA also created eight “Duck Cam” videos to share on social media to show the community a “duck’s-eye view” of how the Duck Derby benefits YESS. The videos showed a YESS-branded rubber duck “training” for race day, eating healthy foods provided to children at YESS, playing with kids, competing in the Duck Derby and showing off the shelter’s expansion construction. In total, these videos garnered nearly 3,000 views.

Additionally, SA earned 11 traditional media placements leading up to and covering the Duck Derby, generating more than 970,000 impressions. Better yet, 100 percent of the coverage included at least two of the Duck Derby’s three key messages. SA’s work helped YESS meet its goal of adopting 35,000 ducks and raising $370,000, making for one quack-tastic event.