WorkHobby Lobby

Challenge

In September 2012, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a privately held retail chain with more than 700 arts and crafts stores in 46 states, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, opposing the Health and Human Services mandate, which would force the Christian-owned-and-operated business to provide, without co-pay, the “morning-after pill” and “week-after pill” in their health insurance plan.

Hobby Lobby is the largest business to file a lawsuit against the HHS mandate, asserting that the mandate would force the company to violate its religious belief that life begins at conception. There are now 63 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate.

Saxum provided communications strategy and support to Hobby Lobby since the initial filing and throughout the duration of the lawsuit. Services provided to the company have included strategic counsel, media relations, digital strategy, internal communication, website design and digital advertising.

Strategy/Tactics

Prior to filing the lawsuit, Saxum worked in partnership with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the law firm representing Hobby Lobby, to ensure that all communication to media, Hobby Lobby employees and other target audiences is clear, consistent and compelling. Preserving the interests of Hobby Lobby and its public image are a top priority for Saxum.

Realizing the importance of the lawsuit and the attention it would garner, Saxum coordinated a conference call for media the day of the filing, so that all questions could be answered at one time by Hobby Lobby CEO David Green. Saxum has consistently communicated with the media regarding milestones in the case and serves as point of contact for all media requests for the company.

In order to rally support for the company and its cause, and to separate the business interests of Hobby Lobby from the lawsuit itself, Saxum developed a custom microsite (www.hobbylobbycase.com) dedicated to educating the public on the facts of the lawsuit and offering them a chance to show their support. The microsite took an active role in engaging audiences on both sides of the issue through video messages from the Green family explaining their case and thanking their supporters, an overall review of the case, and access to legal documents and a timeline for the case. We also gathered testimonials from religious, political and civic leaders expressing their support for the Green family, provided a detailed timeline of the case and made all legal briefs available on the microsite.

As part of the digital strategy, Saxum developed social media channels specific to the case and separate from the corporate channels. The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Facebook page in conjunction with Twitter, YouTube and the microsite drove the online case-related conversations away from retail channels while increasing understanding of the company, family and case.

Saxum created editorial calendars, an interaction strategy and a paid social media advertising strategy to keep interaction and engagement stable. Saxum addressed negative comments daily, corrected misinformation, thwarted users creating fake Hobby Lobby accounts and consistently positioned Hobby Lobby in a positive manner that maintained a clear and consistent message throughout the campaign.

After the Supreme Court decision, Saxum used social media channels and the microsite to distribute breaking news, promote conversations and thank supporters.

Results

Hobby Lobby successfully defended its owners’ rights to religious freedom in the nation’s highest court. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Green family, finding that for their closely held family business, the HHS contraceptive mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The lawsuit garnered hundreds of thousands of media placements across the nation since the initial filing, including coverage by NPR, Fox News, New York Times, Washington Post and more.

The microsite was managed by Saxum, February 1 – August 31, 2014, it received 229,882 total visits from 207,626 unique visitors. The total visits number is larger than the unique visitors which indicates that singular users went back to the site multiple times to get new updates on the case. This consistent engagement resulted in 377 “Show Your Support” entries and 151,933 video views. Additionally, the day of the Supreme Court decision the microsite had 44,769 total visits.

The microsite was pivotal in providing up-to-date information that educated the public about the case, explained the Green family’s values and story, and gave access to all court documents regarding the case.

Social media was successful redirecting conversation from the retail space and it was a critical tool in educating the public on the facts of the case, the business and the family. On multiple occasions, engagement with individuals on Facebook resulted in a new understanding of the case and retention of customers who would have been lost due to the misinformation they’d received from external sources.

Saxum helped Hobby Lobby make 16.4 million impressions on 17.2 million unique users through Facebook. The highest shared graphic from the Hobby Lobby case Facebook page was an “I support Hobby Lobby” graphic published on March 11, 2014, which had 2,410 total shares and a reach of 91,456. The Facebook page ultimately generated 194,850 total engagements (likes, comments & shares) and reached 3.5 million users as of August 31, 2014.

After the Supreme Court decision, Saxum used social media channels and the microsite to distribute breaking news, promote conversations and thank supporters.