Inside Deutsch’s millennial-driven social good program

A few months ago, when Deutsch’s assistant account manager approached L.A. president Kim Getty with a proposal, she was intrigued. Lena Khouri, the junior employee, had only been on board for four months. But here she was, with a detailed Powerpoint deck, outlining how to make philanthropy core to the agency — in a way that engaged the entire company.

Turns out her timing was fortunate: Around the same time, an executive creative director named Karen Costello (not a millennial) had been talking about using creative toward charitable ends.

“It was the perfect storm,” said Getty. Addressing an audience of industry elites at the Digiday Agency Summit in Key Biscayne, she said the resulting standalone agency arm, called “Deutsch Good,” has “changed the course of the organization.”

What drew Getty to the idea, she said, was that she noticed millennials at Deutsch had a strong desire to be part of a community that does more than drive capitalism. And with an industry-wide talent crunch, any program that caters to the younger agency employees gives Deutsch a leg up.

So she partnered Khouri, 26, and the slightly more-senior Costello together to come up with a plan. For Khouri, it was a passion project: “Giving back and doing more than business is an expectation for me,” she said.

Khouri is not alone. Doing good as part of your business is not just good for your employees — it’s good business. According to eMarketer, 47 percent of online shoppers will consciously buy from brands that support causes. Deutsch Good provides a learning opportunity for staffers to understand how their creative, strategy or planning talents can contribute to something really good.

Staffers help out with a hunger drive for LA kids.
Staffers help out with a hunger drive for LA kids.

As such, Deutsch Good now has two arms. The first focuses on creative campaigns to tackle a specific problem, to be voted on by the entire agency. The first winner hit close to home: the California drought. A two-day hackathon judged by L.A. City officials resulted in a winning campaign, which Khouri and her team will unveil in January.

The other arm is about ongoing monthly charity projects: Staffers are painting a mural in collaboration with the kids at Safe Place for Youth, a homeless youth shelter, for example. The focus of another project is kids in Los Angeles who rely on school lunches to get by and, as a result, don’t get food during the summer months. A third was a clothing drive for homeless youth.

Before Deutsch Good, the agency was doing lots of charity work, but it was driven by people with pet projects that they could spearhead and execute on their own. Now, Deutsch Good has its own internal site where the entire company can vote on projects and decide which to focus on.

Getty said in the future, there could also be potential partnerships with Deutsch’s existing clients.

“We have to put our people at the top of the priority list, and we have to feed them culturally,” said Getty. “And as we’ve grown — we hired 200 people in the last year — we have to make sure there are connections beyond just accounts.”

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