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 of/and 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

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