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VOL. 129 | NO. 189 | Monday, September 29, 2014

Inferno Celebrates 15 Years, Charitable Milestone

By Andy Meek

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Anniversaries are a time of reflecting on past successes, and the Memphis-based advertising, marketing, design and PR firm inferno is at just such a moment. Except the 15-year anniversary it’s now celebrating is as much about where it’s going as where it’s been.

In tandem with the celebration of its long tenure in Memphis, the agency is also celebrating its employees – specifically, their collective service to the community and to area nonprofits. Through its Fuelanthropic program, which encourages employees to use up to a week of paid time off for community service and civic time, inferno and its staff have contributed more than 10,000 hours since its founding in 1999.

All that time has been directed toward local charitable, civic and nonprofit groups, in addition to the city at large. And inferno estimates that time and service has been worth more than $1 million the agency gave away as part of its cause.

The agency hosted an event celebrating its Fuelanthropic initiative Sept. 25, calling it “A Million for the Mid-South.” Inferno partners and civic leaders joined the firm Downtown at the Robinson Gallery to toast what’s become a deeply embedded part of the inferno culture.

“We have our clients to thank for equipping us with the resources to make this work,” said inferno partner Tim Sellers. “It’s a unique and powerful way to celebrate the successful relationships we have with our clients.”

SELLERS

Fellow inferno partner Dan O’Brien stressed that Fuelanthropic is not a one-time event or something the agency marks on a calendar. It’s part of what the agency is, he said.

Leading up to the celebration, inferno held two half-days of service that included a July 25 event at Hope House. Inferno employees gathered there to help clean the facility, entertain the children and perform some lawn maintenance and gardening. And on Aug. 22, inferno employees helped the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County set up for its Paw Prints Party at Woodland Hills.

Organizations that have benefited from inferno’s Fuelanthropic work over the years include Hope House, The Exchange Club Family Center, BRIDGES, Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes, Shelby Farms Park and others.

Incorporating such efforts into its core is not unique to inferno. Many of its peer firms in Memphis, in an effort to cultivate a strong company culture and a shared sense of purpose and direction, enlist their employees in deciding on some kind of mission that’s bigger than the firm and often involves community service.

At Sullivan Branding, for example, CEO Brian Sullivan said his firm has a culture-focused committee where participants are in charge of things such as planning what the firm will get involved with, from a nonprofit perspective.

At inferno, the firm has been pointing to its Fuelanthropic initiative as a way of saying its work for nonprofits and other clients has helped the firm be successful over the past 15 years. And the investment by its employees into the community has given the firm something meaningful beyond itself to pursue, as well.

Inferno serves clients in sectors like health care, logistics, retail, banking and entertainment, to name a few. In addition to its Memphis office, it also has a presence in Jonesboro, Ark., and in Kalamazoo, Mich.

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