With moving ads, federation plays up its Super Sunday

Amid the exhaust and honking traffic blanketing the Golden Gate Bridge, a brisk reminder of a local winter Jewish tradition appears on buses this month. "Talk to you on Super Sunday," bus ads state.

The Sunday referred to is Feb. 7, the day of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation's one-day fund-raising marathon.

This month, a slew of advertising for the event hit the radio airwaves and Golden Gate Transit buses running routes from Marin County to San Francisco. Radio ads are a reprise from their debut last year, and the bus ads mark new territory in the expanding ad campaign.

The ads feature a large photograph of Eve Cohen, a federation volunteer, poised with a phone. Twenty buses will carry the ad during January.

Cohen, a Kentfield resident who has volunteered for Super Sunday since 1984, supported the ads as long as "they get people to pick up phones. I would do anything to get the word out."

However, she admitted, appearing as a smiling face upon the traffic was not something she ever expected to be asked. "It's kind of funny to be pictured since I consider myself a mother of two kids, never a poster child. I'm much too old for that; Cheryl Tiegs I am not. The key idea is just to get people aware."

Cohen said her husband joked that it's "a little weird to have my wife pictured on buses. That's not something I bargained for when I got married."

Initially, Cohen had some reservations about the ads, fearing they would provoke hostile reactions. "I thought of what happened to [state Assembly candidate] Russ Weiner's posters," Cohen said, referring to Weiner's campaign posters in Marin that were defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti just before the November election last year.

Cohen decided to go ahead with the ads because she "considered Super Sunday an important enough event for me to show my support no matter what."

George Youngerman, whose Tuna Productions in Marin created the ads, recommended the bus posters "because there is a large Jewish population commuting from Marin County. It's a nice, subtle way to say, `Hello, guess who's calling!'"

Those stuck in traffic will likely hear the federation's ad spots on radio stations KGO, KCBS, KDFC and KKSF.

The ad begins with a phone ringing at the home of a husband and wife, followed by an announcer saying that among the 1,800 phone calls that you receive this year, "the one you answer on Sunday, Feb. 7 could be the most important."

The husband and wife follow with a brief description of what the federation funds and with an enthusiastic commitment to pledge.

Youngerman said the radio campaign returned because of positive feedback last year. "A lot of volunteers said it helped them plan for the event and let them know the federation was doing its part to inform the community."

Youngerman focused on news, light jazz and classical stations in hopes of reaching younger families as well as the unaffiliated who are otherwise unaware of the how the federation works.

So should one look forward to bigger and better announcements for future Super Sundays? While sky-writing is unlikely, Youngerman doesn't rule out television spots in the future. He did look at billboards, but dropped the idea since those require an expensive three-month commitment.

"We plan to look closely how the ads do this year," Youngerman said. "We're definitely breaking new ground, reaching the public in ways not typical for federations."

Steve Toth, marketing director at the federation, said the ads are cost-effective and have been well received. "We want to reach as many people as we can to get attention for our single biggest fund-raising event."