Chesapeake Energy Corp. gets a lot of attention as the arena sponsor for the defending NBA Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder.
But the oil and natural gas company is deflecting some of that spotlight to a half dozen local charities.
“The Cheering for Champions campaign combines two key characteristics of Chesapeake — giving back to the community and cheering on the Thunder,” said Martha Burger, Chesapeake's senior vice president of human and corporate resources. “Through this campaign, we hope to take the incredible attention the Thunder brings to our city and use it to raise awareness for Oklahoma City charities.
“Our city rallies around the Thunder, and we want our nonprofit community to experience this same support.”
Chesapeake's campaign will shine a light on Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma, Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma and Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma.
Each one will be featured on a handful of “Cheering for Champions” signs inside Chesapeake Energy Arena for about a month during the Thunder's regular season, with additional exposure in print, television and radio ads and billboards. There even will be a social media aspect.
Chesapeake spokesman Michael Kehs said company officials hope the campaign will show Thunder fans how they can help organizations that work every day to improve the community.
“As we cheer for this Thunder season, we're also cheering for the local nonprofit community,” he said.
The campaign launched Thursday with a series of ads featuring the Regional Food Bank and its staff.
Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank, said such exposure is unprecedented for nonprofit organizations.
“No nonprofit has a budget for advertising,” he said.
Bivens said the Chesapeake-sponsored campaign is an “extraordinary opportunity” to bring the issue of hunger before the community.
The food bank distributed 42.2 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2012 while serving a state that ranked as the fifth hungriest in the nation.
Bivens said there are an estimated 675,000 people in Oklahoma at risk of being hungry. A quarter of them are children.
The Girl Scouts will be featured in Chesapeake's campaign in April.
CEO Shannon Evers said she hopes it will help draw more volunteers for the organization's leadership programs.
Evers said the Girl Scouts offer an array of volunteer opportunities, including many that don't require a weekly commitment.
“We don't often get an opportunity to explain that, to really do a volunteer recruitment program,” she said.
Evers said the campaign is proof that Chesapeake understands the challenges facing nonprofits and wants them to succeed.
Information about all of the organizations that are part of the Cheering for Champions campaign is available online at www.cheeringforchampions.com.