LITERACY CAMPAIGN: Catch the Poetry Bug

In April 1998, for client Magnetic Poetry and sponsor Volkswagen of America, Todd conceived and activated a month-long, 11,000-mile, 37-city tour celebrating National Poetry Month. Three poetry-covered Beetles visited schools, libraries, and children’s museums on three simultaneous routes covering both U.S. coasts and the Mississippi corridor.

Todd insisted the campaign give away $1M in books along the way, in association with a White House literacy project.

Driven by literary game-playing Comedy Sportz EMT's (Emergency Metaphor Technicians) in lab coats and stethoscopes, who screened children for "poetry in their hearts," the tour reached tens of thousands of children, resulted in $2.5M in publicity, and was named a "Top 100 Marketer" in Ad Age that year.

Having never done anything like it before, I'm sure I had no business pitching this project, much less running it. But somehow, Arnold (VW's agency of record) showed interest after an initial cold-call, and before I knew it we were sending comedians to pick up cars! I'm grateful to my PR agency employers Josh and Ricka Kohnstamm and client president Dave Kapell for taking a crazy chance on this concept! This project made me realize I have what it takes to produce large-scale public events, which set me up for dual future careers in film and public art.

Todd is grateful to the following for support of his work: Forecast Public Art, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, The Minnesota State Arts Board, The National Endowment for the Arts, The San Francisco Arts Commission, and the Warhol Foundation, as well as individual commissions and supporters on Patreon


Copyright 2020 Todd Boss. All rights reserved.