Seattle: It’s red, it’s fast, and it’s all about the Army

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Lt. Colonels Harold and Joann Brodin prepare for a ride in the Northwest Division’s Kettle Bug. Photo by Shanti Hahler

The newest addition to the Northwest Division’s marketing and fundraising toolbox is something to behold: with its vibrant color graphics and edgy style, you can’t miss this Volkswagon Bug emblazoned with Salvation Army designs rolling down the street.

The initial idea came from an article that Lt. Colonel Terry Griffin, then serving as NW divisional commander, saw in a Salvation Army periodical about the Kettle Bugs used in North Carolina. Soon after, the Northwest Division was blessed with a free three-month lease on a 1999 red Bug from the local Campbell Nelson VW dealership, allowing the design and implementation process to begin.

In one way, it’s a mobile advertisement; it can be used in local parades, community events, as a visual for media coverage, even to shuttle celebrities for Salvation Army speaking engagements. But it’s also a portal to a new way of marketing, both internally and externally.

Just over a year ago, the Northwest Division created what is now called The Salvation Army Leadership Council, or SALC. The group was initially made up of six up-and-comers, ages 25 to 38, who could eventually serve on the Salvation Army King County Advisory Board. They were given the goal of not only generating financial donations, but also creating a buzz around the SALC to increase membership and interest among younger people in the Army.

Over time, interest began to dwindle, and two members chose to leave the group; remaining members are Chris Cahoon, Megan Cifala, Mike Crisera, and Kirsten Elliott. In the fall of 2004, as the Kettle Bug partnership, buying, and designing process began, it became clear that it could, among other things, be used to reenergize the SALC, giving them a solid, fun tool to use in their strategy to meet the goals set before them a year earlier.

For now, the Kettle Bug has a full calendar of events, and the SALC, along with Community Relations Director Shanti Hahler, scheduled its official media launch. If all goes well, the Kettle Bug could be a year-round program for the division.

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