Denise Blasevick owns S3, an ad agency that’s made quite an impact for their clients in New Jersey, such as BMW, Tetley Tea and Wyndham Worldwide. But with the addition of S FREE, a charitable division that offers these creative services to the do-gooders of the Garden State, they’ve opened doors they never imagined.
“We award pro bono services to organizations located in our home state who are too small, too new, or too nonprofit to afford us,” says Blasevick. “Small businesses and nonprofits can apply to be considered each quarter. Then the agency votes to select which organization we will help. It is important to our company that the organizations we help are doing work that should grow. We believe by helping meaningful organizations do better, we will help improve our community. That’s good for everyone at our agency and in our state!”
I had a chance to talk to the Mad(Wo)Man about her latest endeavors.
Lisa Dubrek: What inspired S3 to start offering pro bono services?
Denise Blasevick: The S3 Agency is a boutique ad agency that works with bigger brands, such as BMW of North America, Tetley Tea, and Wyndham Worldwide. Several years ago we started providing marketing makeovers to small businesses via MSNBC on the network’s “Your Business” TV show. And we discovered that, while our business model isn’t set up to provide creative services to small businesses, we really enjoy donating our time to help meaningful small businesses survive and thrive. So we decided to formalize a pro bono program last year called S FREE. With S FREE (by S3), we donate free creative services to a different organization each quarter. Organizations can apply at ineedSFREE.com, and then our team votes on which one will become the next recipient of S FREE’s pro bono services.
LD: What do you look for in pro bono clients?
DB: We want to help meaningful organizations in our home state of NJ that are too small, too new, or too non-profit to afford us. Applicants must have under $1,000,000 in sales or fundraising to be considered for S FREE. As we review each application, we ask “How meaningful is this organization,” and “How much can we help them?” Those are two of the primary factors that go into the decision to award our pro bono services.
LD: What’s the biggest impact you’ve seen your work with pro bono clients produce?
DB: Well, we just launched S FREE last September, so we are finishing up work with the first recipient (Congenital Heart Defect Coalition) and beginning work with the second (Liberty Humane Society). So I can’t speak to the results quite yet. What I CAN tell you about is the results we have helped create for our long-term pro bono partnership to provide pro bono services to Turtle Back Zoo. For 10 years we have donated our ad agency’s services to the Zoo—and we’ve seen results we could never even have imagined. The zoo has become the state’s number one zoo (and a top 5 tourist destination). The number of zoo visitors has increased almost ten-fold, and, thanks to the first two results, the zoo’s animal education and conservation efforts have been able to grow tremendously.
LD: What’s been the most rewarding program for you, personally?
DB: While it warms my heart and ups my “creative purpose” whenever we work with a pro bono client, I absolutely love everything we have done for Turtle Back Zoo, including positioning them as “The World In Your Backyard.” Plus, working with them earns me superhero status with my 10-year-old son!