WORKHobby Lobby

Challenge

In September 2012, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a privately held retail chain with more than 500 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 has provided communications support to Hobby Lobby since the initial filing and will continue to do so throughout the duration of the lawsuit. Services provided to the company have included strategic counsel, media relations, 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 website (www.hobbylobbycase.com) dedicated to educating the public on the facts of the lawsuit and offering them a chance to show their support. As a main feature on the website, Saxum coordinated video messages from Hobby Lobby explaining their case and thanking their supporters. We also gathered testimonials from religious, political and civic leaders expressing their support for the Green family. To drive traffic to the website, Saxum provided a strategic digital advertising plan that included banner ads on popular religious websites and news sites.

Results

Hobby Lobby has fought to defend its religious freedom and was granted an injunction against the HHS mandate by Judge Joe Heaton of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on July 19, 2013. The lawsuit has 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.

Public Relations