Woody Boater HQ Invaded By Bears!

HQ – You can see Stinky on the left side

One of the joys of doing this every day, is it can be a small break from a day focused on many other things for many clients and people. Doing this can be rewarding, and fun for me. From time to time though, work is so rewarding that it can occupy 100% of me. I LOVE WHAT I DO. It’s not a job, like Woody Boater, it all comes from the heart and driven by passion for helping folks, and expressing myself. So. You may wonder where this is going? This past two months have been rough since 24 hrs is all there is in a day. It’s not been uncommon to write a story at 3 AM in LA to make my morning dead line, then get to work with the agency at East Coast time and then work til 7 West coast time. Fly between LA, NJ, And DC, all while trying to get home to be with my #1 love. My family. My bride, and yes, BOATS!

Bears Bears and more bears – Woody HQ had some free space to be used.

So you may ask, or not, what in the heck have you been working at? Well. Lots of cool stuff. Not Woody Boater stuff, which is why the stories have been a little rushed. Fun, but soft. BUT. Below is one of those projects that you have to put it all down and focus. Because there are more than clients and business that matters. CHILDREN! Sick Children and a wonderful organization that literally saves kids lives.

One of the print messages

Children’s National one of the nation’s top-five children’s hospitals. Below is the official press release. Sorry, its all spelled right and rather official. But wanted to share the spirit of giving with our wonderful Classic Boat community/culture/passion/sport/hobby/art movement.

Award-winning advertising and marketing services agency SmithGifford is lighting up the Washington, D.C., metro area this holiday season with a new, interactive fundraising campaign for its client, Children’s National, one of the nation’s top-five children’s hospitals.

The multimedia effort, “Light Up Dr. Bear” features 316 “Dr. Bear” figures strategically placed in heavily trafficked areas like town centers and shopping malls throughout the D.C. metro area and at the hospital, its community clinics and outpatient centers. Modeled after Children’s National’s iconic mascot, Dr. Bear, the bears represent the 316 patient beds at Children’s National.

Throughout the holiday season, all 316 bears will light up simultaneously whenever a donor makes a donation via website or text.  The donation triggers a light emitting diode (LED) transferred to each bear via an Internet-of-Things managed cloud platform.  To make a donation or find a bear, donors can visit www.ChildrensNational.org/Light or text Light10 to 50555 to send a gift.*

“For this campaign, we turned donating into an experience that could be shared simultaneously throughout the community by both donor and families being cared for at Children’s National,” said SmithGifford Founder-CEO Matt Smith.  “Our creative strategy includes patients and their families reacting to the bears lighting up so donors can see the impact of their donation, in the hospital and in front of them.”

The campaign is a multimedia effort that includes TV spots, print, digital, out-of-home, social media and experiential/event, all handled by SmithGifford. Marketing services agency LMO was responsible for media buying, while public relations and influencer marketing duties were handled by Ketchum.  The campaign will run through Dec. 31, supporting Children’s National in its efforts to find cures, fuel innovation, and provide world-class care to every child, regardless of illness, injury or ability to pay.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of this campaign comes when the bears light up throughout the hospital showing the children, their families and their caregivers how much the community cares about them,” said SmithGifford President Trisha Pierce.  “The wonder of this technology is that it sparks a real emotion and creates a community of giving.”

The full campaign includes a wide variety of touchpoints such as pop-up events with street teams at bear locations to show them in action and share on social media as well as a behind-the-scenes video of the bears in production.  An integration with iHeart radio is also planned, and a bear will do a guest takeover of a popular local Instagram account later in the campaign. And on New Year’s Eve one of the bears will do a special countdown to 2019.

As Washington, D.C.’s only hospital specializing in kids, Children’s National treats the whole child and the whole family with a child-centered focus. This approach includes medical equipment and facilities that are specifically designed for kids, care teams with specialized training for kids’ healthcare and emotional needs, and unique programs for play, including art and music therapy, a library and reading room, Seacrest Studios and the Healing Garden.


  • Agency: SmithGifford
  • CEO: Matt Smith
  • President: Trisha Pierce
  • Creative Director of Art: Bill Cutter
  • Creative Director of Copy: Lisa Biskin
  • Account Supervisor: Melissa Astorga
  • Associate Creative Director of Copy: Rachel Cook
  • Senior Art Director: Melanie Fitts
  • Account Manager: Jordan McIninch
  • Art Director: Antoine Fagan
  • Producer: Dana Cole
  • Creative Technology: Autonomy
  • Still Photographer: Eli Meir Kaplan
  • Video Director: TwinTaoers
  • Music: RMI Music
  • Editorial & Visual Effects: Society
  • Bear Fabrication: The Falcon Lab

*Recurring SMS subscription service. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to 50555 to STOP. Full terms: mGive.com/E Privacy Policy: mGive.org/P

So thats the official release, here are some more photos from behind the scenes. 99% of the bears are now delivered and running. When you donate. ALL the bears light up and show the children, families and the entire community that you care!

Stanley was watching it all! Stanley is one of the agency dogs that helps keep the place calm and fun!

Account Supervisor, Stanley’s Mom: Melissa Astorga has been up for way too long, but as you can see. Like the rest of the amazing team. Driven!

Senior Art Director: Melanie Fitts is one of the key members who had the vision and idea! Amazing talent

It takes a village. And a 1937 Race boat?

Boxes! Actually 2000 lbs of cardboard delivered to recycling – Stinky Buried in cardboard

Just one of 6 truck loads of bears made in Ohio,  filling HQ. Its a great space below the ad agency to work

Almost every team member, me included got a 24 hr Virus. Stress and working long hrs can do that. But we all worked through it.

Dr Bear had it’s own Hospital.

Each bear is a small computer. Weighing 50 lbs and things in shipping would need fixing. We literally have bought the worlds supplies of strand LED lights. Yup, China, the UK, all of them.

But its all about being healthy

Each bear has its own code, so we can keep them up and running, and see how they are working. Coordinating the names is a job for sure. Trisha our president was keeping us all on track!

Day and night. 24/7

Stinky doing her part

Each bear has to be Unpacked and tested, sanded, cleaned and sealed before going out the door.

The final bear in a location in DC

24 replies
  1. Bob Kays
    Bob Kays says:

    Absolutely wonderful Matt! I will donate for sure. If all of us donate what we can, imagine the impact!

  2. Martin Field
    Martin Field says:

    Good to see the bosses at work, Matt. I think your place in Heaven is sealed now after that lot.

  3. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Matt, congrats to you and your crew! Great job for a wonderful cause.
    I wish we would have thought of this for Boat the Blue. We could have had white plastic walleye lighting up all over Port Huron!

  4. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    Fantastic idea, Matt, that will change lives. Being in the same line of work and having taken on big, ambitious projects like this, I know it takes a superhuman effort to pull it off. We had a phrase: You have to will it to happen.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      HAAHA, We all said that. Each step has been a trial. This stuff hasnt been done before, but an amazing team made it happen. And get this. All laughing and positive. I just raise my head and thank the gods for such a team.

  5. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U.P.)
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U.P.) says:

    That is Great Matt. Whatever we can do to help children, will surely benefit the world. Like Bob said if we all donate imagine the impact.

  6. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Awesome campaign!

    So if “Each bear has to be Unpacked and tested, sanded, cleaned and sealed before going out the door.” is this just another way for you to feed your varnish addiction? What “SEALER” are you using? Marine varnish by any chance?

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Each one was done well at the factory. But because each one of these is a little ad, we wanted to make double sure they reflected the effort. The slight sanding was done to triple make sure no one is hurt. NO LATEX used in the material either to protect against alergies. The depth of detail is amazing. A coast to coast global effort. And everyone was excited to be part of it. Look up RMI Music for example. Superbowl Coke ads. And he jumped right in. The production house in LA. Shooting on a cold rainy night in DC… And the children! Amazing. And if you want to have your cold heart filled, just know that there are saints on this planet that share there passion for good at Childrens National.

  7. Rick
    Rick says:

    So you’re not just a Grinch pushing the ACBS’s buttons. Heart of gold. Congratulation on bringing this project to fruition.

  8. Stenz
    Stenz says:

    Thanks for the peek “behind the curtains” – what a wonderful campaign!
    2 questions; how do you keep Dr. Bear from “walking off” & any chance of a Dr. Bear auction after December 31st, with all proceeds going to Children’s National?
    We will make a donation today & would like to purchase a Dr. Bear after the campaign.
    Great job Matt-

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      many are in business’s At malls in clusters of 12 which is very cool see them all light up at once. But the real magic is the smaller ones light up with the children. None stolen yet. There is a special place in H. E. Double Hocky sticks for someone like that.
      They are not for sale. Its a trademarked Logo, and the software is useless if you do not have the keys. The bears are the Childrens National Logo and trademark.

  9. jfkarlson
    jfkarlson says:

    Very cool idea Matt. Internet-enabled brand experiences have sure come a long way since the Subservient Chicken. Pretty amazing feat to pull this off. Congrats to you and SmithGifford!

  10. first53resorter
    first53resorter says:

    “We” (collectively) frequently bemoan the encroachment of technology (lowercase) in general and the internet of things specifically, through our individual perspectives. Sometimes, rightfully so!

    Sir, this is a shining example of harnessing the mysteries of Technology to effect positive change in the lives of those who may not have the means. Kudos!

  11. Berlin Bureau
    Berlin Bureau says:

    This is amazing ~ and for such a good cause! Very innovative concept for what bridging the gap between the traditional and digital worlds should be. Even better seeing behind the scenes. I hope my donation from Germany lights up!

  12. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    I do not get it. Matt can do all this from coast to coast, AND still, find time to entertain all of us followers each morning with interesting and sometimes thought-provoking storylines. Well done, now go take a nap…

  13. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Reminds me of when Jeb Bush was our Governor here in Florida. He had a term for projects like this…BHAG

    Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

    This one certainly was a BHAG

  14. Jeff N.
    Jeff N. says:

    Wow, Matt this is impressive. Hats off to you and your team. You are making life long memories for the children.

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