You won’t find Jimmy Wayne’s name or face on any ad for Marmot, the outerwear manufacturer, or Red Roof Inn. Nobody in marketing with either company worked on any promotion involving the young artist.
Yet because of the support that both firms gave Wayne during his epic Meet Me Halfway trek, both companies have benefitted from their association with him — most importantly by the good feeling that comes from doing the right thing.
Wayne has argued on behalf of homeless youth in meetings with Congressmen and before the California State Legislature prior to its passage of AB 12, raising the age limit for foster care in that state from 18 to 21. By leaving Nashville on foot early on Jan. 1 and arriving on Aug. 1 in Phoenix, Ariz., he also drew attention to the cause with a uniquely personal demonstration of commitment.
As an abuse survivor, former foster child and homeless teen, Wayne was powerfully motivated to help. But given the rain, snow and heat he knew he would encounter along the way, he was also motivated to find the best protective clothing he could.
“So I called John Oates,” he said, referring to one-half of the Hall & Oates duo and guest vocalist on the title track of Wayne’s 2009 album Sara Smile on The Valory Music Co. “He lives in Aspen, so I thought, ‘Well, heck, if anybody can give me some kind of direction on this, it would be John.’”
Oates put Wayne in touch with his friend Alison Smith, VP of Operations at Marmot. They worked out an informal deal: Without fanfare or any media blitz, the company supplied Wayne with all of the equipment and clothing he needed, except shoes and socks because they’re not in the Marmot catalog.
“We pride ourselves on doing things because they’re the right things to do,” Smith explained. “The purpose for doing this was truly to support Jimmy and his cause, and that’s it.”
Similarly, as lodging expenses rose for the driver that paced Wayne’s walk, Red Roof Inn offered him a free room at their nearest location each night. As with Marmot, their gesture was “entirely altruistic,” said Kim Paysor, Public Relations Coordinator, Red Roof Inn. “The only time we put together a press release was toward the end of Jimmy’s walk, where we offered a 20 percent discount at all of our Phoenix locations for any supporters of Meet Me Halfway that wanted to welcome Jimmy.”
These efforts impacted both businesses positively. “I see one or two tweets each day, even now, from Jimmy’s fans, thanking us and asking their friends to support Red Roof,” said Paysor. “We weren’t looking for that kind of benefit. It’s just a natural evolution of our support and appreciation for what Jimmy is doing.”
As for Wayne, who is writing material for an upcoming album inspired by his 1,700-mile journey, this generosity affirms that his message has been heard. “When I started this walk, some people were like, ‘That’s crazy. That’s impossible.’ But,” he said, smiling, “it’s not impossible. We all walk.”
© 2011 CMA Close Up News Service / Country Music Association, Inc.