Friday, October 16, 2009

Social Media Is Doing Good: Just Add Clients

Let's talk about social media. Everyone else is.

So. There’s an agency called Naked and they are always very quick on the uptake with any new media or consumer trend. They did a little slide show that helps us understand how the power of 140 characters can help solve just about any social problem you can think of. (The slideshow has no sound, but you’ll get the gist.)

(Their original post, HERE.)

In other news … The earth has tsunamis, we have social networks. Here’s a cool example of how the speed and connectedness of the Plurk network was used to help people hit hard by the power of planet earth. (Article, HERE.

(Apparently Plurk is a social network by Microsoft that must be “big in Japan” or something. More on Plurk, HERE.)

And finally, Facebook. Here’s a cool tip sheet about how to use Facebook to fix the world. Just click. Perfect for the lazy do-gooder in all of us. Enjoy. And do these 5 things:

1) use charity applications like Causes and Lil’ Green Patch and SocialVibe, 2) join groups doing good like Cancer Associations and Darfur Relief, 3) become a fan of a cause like Susan G. Komen for a Cure and Greenpeace and Oxfam, 4) send a virtual gift that prompts a sponsor company to donate, and 5) host a charity event using FB invitations.

Links and more details in the original article on Mashable, HERE.

So, what’s missing here? We’ve got plenty of social media, and plenty of doing-good. What’s missing is clients. Clients that align themselves with a cause, and join the online communities that already exist, they’re ready to act, stand to gain a lot. A lot of loyalty, a lot of goodwill, a lot of sales, possibly another generation or two of happy healthy customers, a lot of leverage over their competition, and a lot of VIP treatment in marketing heaven.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Milk Bone

Apparently, Milk Bone dog treats have been supporting the Canine Assistance program “for over 12 years.” Who knew?

Since they haven’t advertised it much until now, at first I thought they were just mimicking the Pedigree approach from TBWA/Chiat/Day LA (more on that, HERE.) It's an awesome approach, but in a category so similar, Milk Bone comes off like an "us too" player.

The lesson? If you’re doing something good, and your customers can help buy buying your product, then it pays to let them know about it.

(Anyone know if this is still handled by DraftFCB NYC?)
(UPDATE: Apparently, the work was done by DraftFCB/SF. Thanks to Brian M. for the info.)

Check out Milk Bone's website, HERE.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Toyota Sees Beyond Cars

Toyota is one of the biggest advertisers in the country. And they’ve staked their huge new brand campaign (from Dentsu) on Doing Good.

They talk about creating American jobs at all the plants they have here. They talk about producing as little waste as possible, and their zero landfill targets. – (Bear in mind, this isn’t a fringe sub-campaign. This is Toyota’s new brand campaign.)

They talk about their safety innovations. Their partnership with the Audubon Society to “green” communities from Brooklyn to San Antonio. The $35 million they’ve donated toward children’s literacy. Fixing parks. Planting trees. Supporting college water sustainability standards … The list goes on and on.

It’s a lot of information we didn’t know about Toyota. And while it may not constitute total transparency, it sure feels like it. It feels like Toyota isn’t afraid to pull back the curtain and show you the factories, the parks, the people, the customers.

And it also invites viewers to chime in with their own stories, building a sense of community, participation, fandom, and in a way – crowdsourcing stories and ideas.

Creatively, my first impression of “Beyond Cars” was, Okay you see beyond cars, but if I want to buy a car I want Toyota to be really focused on that car, not some hippy tree-planting stuff.* However ...

After delving into the website, the good feelings I gained about Toyota overpowered the need for them to show me sheet metal. I already know Toyota makes great cars. Now I know a lot more. And in this case, the more I learn, the more I like them.

What other car company can say that?

* (Also, the creative is not particularly attention-getting. What is attention-getting is the mechanics of it: all the Good stuff they do, the transparency of it all, and the involvement of the website. It’s the community-building that gets the attention here, not a clever ad. In this case, the most compelling thing is to simply say the truth.)

(PS - If you want another Green car idea that's more closely tied to sales, you may also like THIS.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Macy’s: Have Your Celebrity Friends For Dinner

It’s an embarrassment of riches when Macy’s does good. Martha, Tommy Hilfiger, Emeril, “The Donald”, Jessica Simpson, Usher, Queen Latifa, the list goes on and on. And on. For 45 seconds, including some strange camera work, and distracting inside jokes. Until finally … we learn that this is for charity.

Macy’s invites us to host a party, and somehow the proceeds will help Feeding America. (Score another coup for those guys – the charity du jour. And that’s all the French I know.)

The website is robust, and puts the star power to better use, making it more clear exactly how I can get involved. Oddly, the “big day” – Oct. 17 – is buried under Tommy Hilfiger’s section. That’s the day they’ve designated for their Shop For A Cause program.

But no matter many layers they’ve piled on top of the details, the results are impressive.

Over $28 million dollars will be donated through Shop For A Cause day.

Over 30 million meals will be donated through Feeding America.

And over 40 million A-list celebrities will be featured in each TV commercial. Oh wait. That last stat is just a little off.

I’m sure Macy’s is also running their “sale sale sale!” TV spots to move product, but this campaign builds the brand. And apparently, it’s a star-studded, big-hearted brand indeed.

Why would anyone go to Dillard’s?

(PS – "So, what’s with the Beatles track?” Yes, they are using Come Together in TV and online, and yes, The Beatles have always been notoriously litigious and short-leashed when (not) licensing their music to commercial ventures. And here it is; Macy’s rocking the opening track off of Abbey Road. Think they could’ve gotten that track for a one-day-sales event? Heck no. And THAT, gentle reader, is a pretty sweet by-product of adding some good to your marketing. Beatles tracks.)

(PPS - I believe the agency is still JWT Chicago? Please comment below to confirm or deny. Thanks!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The GoodWorks Effie

The Effies are a weird award for creatives. Because the winners don't need to necessarily be the most breakthrough or well-crafted creative; it just needs to be "effective." Historically, the winners have been a mixed bag - some great, some not. Regardless, it's a very cool trend to see the big award shows are recognizing "Good" campaigns. Here's what the GoodWorks Effie is all about, straight from their website.

"The lines between brand marketing and a company’s reputation are blurring. Those that lead with a strong social conscience through the likes of sustainable business practices and philanthropic initiatives will succeed.

To highlight this notion that you can do well by doing good, and that great branding and good deeds are increasingly interwoven, Advertising Age has launched GoodWorks — a blog to highlight developments in corporate social responsibility and cause marketing as well as recognizing individual good works.

As part of the GoodWorks initiative and to further promote such efforts, Advertising Age and Effie Worldwide are partnering on a new Effie Award to recognize and promote the idea of doing well by doing good – The GoodWorks Effie.

The GoodWorks Effie is for communications programs proven effective in addressing a social problem or in expanding an existing program in ways that benefit our society or our planet. Any effort that sets out to give back in some way for the greater good is eligible to enter.

Maybe it was for profit, maybe not. Maybe you got paid, maybe you didn’t. Any and all marketing communications efforts, whether full campaigns or unique efforts within a campaign are eligible to enter as long as measurable results exist.

GoodWorks Effie – Brands/Companies
For marketing communications efforts undertaken by for-profit entities that are ‘doing well by doing good.’

Examples of campaigns that would have been eligible for this award include:

- Pedigree, Echo
- Walmart, PSP 2007: Personal Sustainability Project
- Häagen-Dazs, Häagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees

GoodWorks Effie – Non-Profit
Designed for communications of a public service nature for a non-profit organization or association, including political messages and special interest/trade group communications.

Examples of campaigns that would have been eligible for this award include:

- Oregon Humane Society,End Petlessness Campaign
- Autism Speaks, Odds Campaign

Effie is an award for effective marketing communications. It is not our place to say, for example, that fighting cystic fibrosis is more or less important than working to end urban violence. Like all other Effies, what will be judged and measured is the effectiveness of the communications program created. All GoodWorks entries will undergo the same rigor of evaluation as other Effie entries do.

The GoodWorks competition will run in conjunction with the North American Effie program and will adhere to the same deadlines. The Call For Entries period will kick off on October 14th and officially close on Wednesday, November 4, 2009.
Download the 2010 Entry Kit here.

The GoodWorks-Brand Effie will have a flat fee of $785 per entry.
The GoodWorks-Non-Profit Effie has a flat fee of $385.
As a courtesy to this unique award, the Effies will not be implementing a late fee structure on GoodWorks entries.

All GoodWorks entries will be judged by handpicked, highly experienced industry professionals from around the country. Entries will go through a rigorous first round of judging and those that receive the highest scores will move on to the final round.

Winners will be announced and awarded at a special cocktail reception in February 2010.

Perhaps you have questions regarding the GoodWorks Effie?
Contact us directly via email at or call us at 212-687-3280 ext. 228.

Would you like to suggest a “goodwork” for a GoodWorks Effie Award?
Please Click Here to Submit Your Recommendation and we will reach out to them with all the entry details.

We look forward to celebrating your good works in coming months."

This follows the announcement by the One Club/One Show of their "Green Pencil" award, which you can read about HERE.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Yoplait and Breasts. (Advantage: Breasts)

This clip has already taken its swift lap around the interwebs, but I thought I’d chime in with a thought about balance. (First, let me say that I think this program is fantastic. The target and the cause align really well, and Yoplait will make lots of fans with this effort, I’m sure.)

I think this is 95% awesome, and really only falls down a bit in the balance of the creative. Don’t get me wrong, this spot is simple, clear, plenty edgy for their Gen Y target, and obviously it's compelling enough to get forwarded around the ad blogs, so I think it’s succeeding in a big way.

And I love the way they’re involving consumers (even though it’s not tied to purchase); “For every pledge received by October 31, 2009, Yoplait will donate 10 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, up to $100,000.”

If I were to nit-pick (everyone’s a critic, right), it would be about losing the brand.

This is a great campaign for breast cancer, though I do wish it worked harder for Yoplait. They’ve almost relegated their own brand to sponsorship status (with the exception of the smart URL

Creatively, the lesson here is, if you’re a big brand putting a spotlight on a great cause, don’t get off the stage too much.

(For an example, check out how the brand shares the spotlight in THIS campaign.)

(Thanks to the Cone agency for doing this great work, and spreading the news about it. Kudos.)

(Oh, and please do take the YoplaitPledge on Facebook, HERE

Monday, September 14, 2009

T-mobile (Germany) Does Good

This looks like the kind of spot that should be running worldwide. T-Mobile Deutschland (aka, Deutsch Telekom) has produced this TV spot with the help of a German agency called Philipp & Keuntje (

I don’t speak German, but looks like T-Mobile is doing some “good.”

I saved you the trouble, and typed the German supers into a free online translator. Here’s what came out:

IN GERMAN: Das alte Handy abgeben und wertvolle Ressourcen erhalten.
Die Rechnung online bekommen und die Natur schonen.
Lieblingssongs runterladen und weniger Plastik produzieren.
Grofle Veranderungen fangen klein an.
Erleben, was verbindet.

IN ENGLISH: Deliver the old mobile phone and receive valuable resources.
Get the calculation Online and nature of already.
Favorite songs download and produce less plastic.
Grofle porch rings begin small.*
Experience, what connects. (“millions catch at”)

(* they actually mean, “Big changes, start small.”)

My interpretation? "If you bring in your old phone, you can save the earth. Find out how much online, download your favorite songs, and use less plastic."

Big changes start small, indeed.

Two words: thank God. This, to me, is the trifecta. It’s a big company using its big marketing budget for good, and the creative? Really freaking cool. (Finally!)

The film style makes the scenes look like minuatures; like a diarama/model train set of the world. It sets up the “big changes start small” idea in a very intriguing manner.

Note to T-Mobile US: do this.

Is it strategic? Yes. Any company that reduces its carbon footprint with its products/production is on strategy. Is it involving? Absolutely. Inviting customers to make a difference means that the more they buy, the better off the earth is. Perfect. (And they get something free out of it, apparently. Let’s hope it’s not just the Best Of the Rammstein.)

This encourages purchase for a reason. It makes T-Mobile appear forward-thinking and good-hearted. And so … when someone buys, they not only love the earth, they also like T-Mobile. Brand loyalty built.

My guess is they’ll tell they’re friends about it.

(Thanks Griffin, yet again, for the tip on this one. Great find. Go see Griffin's blog, HERE.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Luxury Brands Go Green

The Wall Street Journal online recently had a great article about how many of the highest-end luxury brands you can think of (Tiffany’s, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Zegna) are turning to a green strategy to boost sales.

Here's an excerpt; “The luxury industry's adoption of a green message reflects the challenges facing some of the world's most glamorous brands. Once able to win customers with the promise of fine design, craftsmanship and service, the luxury business is contending with an aging core clientele and the aftermath of a decade-long expansion that has rendered exclusive brands less so than they used to be.

Those factors have purveyors of high-end fashions scrambling to re-invent their brands, in part by catering to younger shoppers who more often consider their impact on the environment than do traditional luxury-goods buyers.”

You might call it “sharing a worldview” with your customers. Or, offering “more than just a transaction.” These are some of the buzz-worthy phrases at my agency right now. And as luxury brands go green, they're making THAT their message.

Fact is, green campaigns do this, and more.

Luxury brands are often mature brands, and always rely on discretionary spending; for them it’s a great way to re-connect with people. And if you think about it, a green (or “we’re doing good”) message a great way to connect for all kinds of brands.

To read the full WSJ article, go HERE.

Monday, August 31, 2009

DiMassimo vs. the Landfills

In one of the more brilliant ad campaigns in recent history, Droga5 used water itself to fight water shortages in developing countries. (If you don’t know about their TapProject, you should.)

The other big water issue is getting bigger, and ad agencies aren’t helping. It’s about the plastic bottles and the whole landfill mess. Every bottle says “recycle me” on the side, but only about 25% of them actually get recycled. Enter Brita Water with it’s crystal-clear anti-landfill messaging (courtesy of DDB San Francisco, I believe). And now, another voice joins the conversation: DiMassimo advertising in NYC.

Old news for some, but they’ve launched a campaign to convince people to drink perfectly-good tap water from reusable bottles. They call it “What’s Tappening,” and the program comes with a very useful component: the reusable bottle itself.

It’s not as groundbreaking as Droga’s TapProject, but I give them big points for attempting to take on this issue at all. Several ad blogs have criticized the creative work, so all I’ll say is that I think the headlines skirt the main point a bit, with their “free beer, just kidding” structure (note the asterisks). The bottle water issue is a serious one, and there’s plenty of drama in the actual story of it.

Most importantly, does anyone know how it’s working? Please, write in. Let’s hear from someone at DiMassimo. Me and my buddy planet earth are hoping for the biggest success.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Good Down To Your Toes

There’s big business from the ankles down. And there may be no easier area for Joe shopper to do something good. It's almost freaky how many shoe companies are making the world a better place.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, you can look at the world-of-good as split into two camps: those that ARE good, and those that DO good.

Brooks running shoes made a shoe that IS good. What I mean is, they’re making the world a better place by the way they build (one of) their shoes. It’s called The Green Silence, and it's a high-performance marathon shoe made out of recycled plastic bottles, sofa foam, and CDs (pictured). It’s got pretty damn good green credentials. (NYTimes’ Green Blog covered it HERE.)

Similarly, Simple Shoes (“Shoes for a Happy Planet”) has long been the hipster’s purveyor of recycled and earth-friendly shoes. (I bought a pair off not long ago, and let me tell you, they kick the crap out of Converse All-Stars.)

Puma is taking the other approach. Rather than greening their operations, they’re helping those in need. They put on a shoe exchange program (with Soles4Souls) – bring in any pair of shoes, deposit them in them in the bin at the store and receive 30% off your purchase. The used shoes are given to charity. (June/July 2009)

Likewise, there’s the ugliest shoes (slippers, more like it) on earth, Toms Shoes. Their tagline is, “One for One”. Like Soles4Souls, they give a pair of shoes to those who need ‘em for every pair they sell. They've built their whole business on it. (More on Toms, HERE.)

Footwear is a mature market, rife with parity. So some smart companies are acting out to differentiate themselves, and do something people can get behind. Want to save the environment? There’s a shoe out there for you. Want to help the shoeless? Just buy this brand and it’s done.

This segment is leading with their good foot. The rest of the body is sure to catch up.

* Inappropriate footnote: the Soles4Souls tagline is, “Changing the World, One Pair at a Time.” Which is funny, if you have a dirty mind like me. More about them, HERE.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Aircel In Mumbai. A Billboard Does Good.

I’m guessing “reliability” was the message. A cell carrier that would work no matter what. And when you can count on rough weather, perhaps you’d want to make something more useful than a billboard – a tool that helps people in need.

Sure enough, the rains came. There was no elaborate program of giving. The ad fulfilled its own promise.

The locals used the billboard raft to shuttle people to a nearby safety zone. As intended.

Massive press ensued. This is genius.

(See more photos, HERE.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mail Bag! Corn Phones, Teacher Burgers, and YouTube’s Goodness

I love my friends. I also love strangers when they do what my friends often do, which is to send me anything they find out there that smacks of marketing-plus-goodness.

Here are three such tidbit from the “mail bag” – all thought-provoking – and none of which I will do justice here.

“Brandon M” in Tampa writes, “Dear M+G, cell phones are filling landfills by the millions with their plasticky ways, which makes this news pretty cool… It’s a Samsung phone from Sprint, and it’s made out of corn! Do you know if I can order it with a side of fried chicken?” *

Dear Brandon, thanks for the tip! Since they don’t have an iPhone or a Gphone, Sprint needs to innovate somehow, and this seems like a great way to do it. Can’t wait to see how this resonates with the wired/green set. Let’s hope more phone manufacturers follow suit. I’ll keep an eye out for any ads they may run for this too.
(A bit more on Sprint's corn phone from PSFK, HERE.)

“Mark Y” in Seattle writes in, “Dear M+G, YouTube launched a nonprofit program ( in 2007 that offers member organizations the same features it sells to paid advertisers — a specially designated channel to broadcast its message, help with branding, a video-uploading capacity beyond the standard 10 minutes and a Google Checkout button to rustle up donations. Ryan Hawk, the multimedia coordinator of the Woodland Park Zoo ( in Seattle, says that its partnership with YouTube has simplified streaming and embedding videos to the zoo’s Web site, blog, and Facebook page.

Last week YouTube added a “Call to Action” tool, which lets video makers include links that appear in an overlay while the video plays. I tested it in a videofor charity: water, a nonprofit that aims to bring clean drinking water to developing countries. Viewers donated $10,000 in one day, a sum that will pay for the construction of two wells in the Central African Republic.” *

Dear Mark, back in the Betamax days, the innovators were the pornographers. But now the innovators understand transparency, so when YouTube wants to give away the first uses of some new gizmos, they’ll give the discounts to the early-adopting do-gooders. Pretty awesome stuff. Marketers take note. Doing good just might open more doors to innovation online as well.

“Griffin F” in Tampa writes us, Dear M+G, why are you ignoring me? Well, you can’t ignore this nifty do-gooding promotion from Sonic drive-ins that invites customers to vote on worthy student projects to win massive funding ($500,000!). Just try to ignore it. Try.” *

Dear Griffin, you’re right. I can’t ignore it. It’s a nifty example of how doing good can drive traffic. Sonic invites people to come in once to register to vote (and buy a meal), then again to judge the student projects (and buy a meal). I’ll bet several classrooms full of hungry tweens will be pow-wowing at your local Sonic in the coming months. And loving Sonic for every moment of it. It’s giving, and taking, and mixin’ it up with the community. Well played, Sonic. Well played.

Watch for future installments of “M+G’s Mail Bag” in the not-too-distant future.

* Not actual letters.

(PS - Griffin's outstanding blog is HERE, and Brandon's also-outstanding blog is HERE. Enjoy.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Audi Makes The Case For Diesel

They say it can reduce (eliminate?) our dependence on foreign oil, by using less.

It’s a “good” message both politically and environmentally. And they’ve somehow wrapped performance in there as well (HERE). It’s a fascinating strategy, and it just might work. (Cue watchdogs crying "greenwash" anytime now. The "clean diesel" debate continues.)

The creative is reminiscent of Goodby's Saturn work, but still very solid in its own right. Mad props to Venables Bell, SF.

(And to Mr. Greg Bell, who’s moving beyond the agency now, congratulations and good luck.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Keep California Beautiful dot org

One great thing about getting a “good” message out there is the free stuff.

Better directors, better talent for less, people donate their time, their costumes, props, and even air time.

BBDO West made this spot look like a million bucks, though I doubt that was the budget. Kudos for that.

Here’s my critique. It’s a cute spot. Entertaining. But will I get involved? Will I schedule a clean up? Probably not.Here I was, ready to join an online group to stay in touch. But they didn’t ask. If I had joined a group, and if a clean-up was happening on some lazy Sunday, maybe I would’ve gone.

It seems the world is outgrowing the traditional clever spot. It’s not enough to entertain. Especially not for a cause.

So while this spot is very entertaining, has my behavior changed? Honestly, no.

Even if someone sees this spot and goes to the website, the website doesn’t convert. There’s no next step, besides a small Facebook button at the bottom.

Point is, there is a MISSION here. Let’s keep California beautiful. In my humble opinion, this spot doesn’t so much engage that mission as it just makes fun of kitsch.

To quote Gareth Kay (formerly of Modernista!, now of Goodby Silverstein, congrats Gareth) … “Do stuff, don’t just say stuff.”

And here’s one of many useful slides from Gareth’s most recent presentation… I didn’t hear him present, so I’m assuming this chart outlines the old way of evaluating good creative (on left), and the new way of evaluating good creative (on right).*

When you have a cause, don’t just entertain me. Enlist me.

(* A few great thoughts from Gareth Kay are posted on Just search his name.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fiji Water: So Good, Yet So Bad, part 2

Something weird has happened since I started this blog. A lot of people find it by searching for Fiji Water. Specifically, “fiji water bad,” and “fiji water good.”

I think these people are looking for an answer to a question like this; “If Fiji keeps claiming to be green (“carbon negative” in fact), how can it still have a controversial reputation?”

Here’s my hunch, presented humbly to you in a completely non-scientific graph.

The Fiji Water source is limited, and they’re taking so much of it as to throw the local ecosystem out of whack. Add to that the transportation impact of their water, and you’ve got a product with a pretty big enviro-impact. (Ironically, many local Fijiians have trouble finding clean drinking water, and Fiji Water has a history of unhelpfulness. So add bad karma.)

To fight that reputation, they’ve decided to buy their way out with carbon offsets. Not that it’s a bad practice, but offsets are no substitute for corporate responsibility. Their impact is still massive, and so their offset expenses are as well (a fact reflected in the price per bottle, perhaps).

By contrast, one of the most eco-friendly bottled waters is Icelandic Glacial. Like Fiji Water, it’s imported from a unique source. But since Iceland has to import most of its goods (other than fish), there are a lot of empty ships leaving the country. Icelandic Glacial can export its water on ships that would otherwise return empty. They’re not adding traffic. Their shipping is creating zero NEW emissions; their shipping impact is happening whether they export their pure water or not.

Further, the Icelandic Source is a gigantic under-island glacial “river.” A source so massive, the company’s annual output is about 1% of what flows through the source in a single day. So the water they take doesn’t impact the local environs in the least. But here’s the best part. The country of Iceland derives most of its energy not from oil, but from water. Steam. That’s right, Icelandic Glacial’s bottling plant is powered by – (wait for it) – water.

Yes, Icelandic Glacial still buys carbon offsets to account for its small impact on the earth. And that helped make it the world’s first carbon neutral product.

Fiji Water claims to have caught up, now being “carbon negative” thanks to its egregious greenwashing. Icelandic Glacial is carbon neutral, and is truly a greener product.

I just like to imagine the ad campaign they could run.

(See the earlier posts that are getting this site so much traffic, HERE.)

(PS – another fun fact about Icelandic Glacial is the mineral makeup of the water itself. It’s so pure, it’s the only water that freezes perfectly clear. Neat-o.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Snickers: Bar Hunger

Hello textbook strategy. If your brand position is “don’t go hungry,” then guess what your charity of choice will be?

So. Snickers is donating at least 3 million meals to Feeding America, fueled by customer participation. It’s simple, smart, strategic, and beats the heck out of just giving candy bars to those who can’t afford a meal. Nice work, Snickers. (I'm not sure how much TBWA/Chiat/Day New York had to do with this, but it seems they're at least involved, since they're Snickers' lead agency.)

It must be noted here – AGAIN with the Feeding America!

They’ve partnered with Quaker/Goodby/Edelman, and Mullen’s Bread Art Project, and countless others. Whoever’s in charge over at Feeding America is kicking ass with the brand participation. Someone give that do-gooder a candy bar.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Saatchi S’ Blue Ripple

Kevin Roberts is the worldwide CEO of Saatchi&Saatchi, and author of their Lovemarks books. He shoots out a daily-ish missive on what the marketing world looks like from his perch, and I think it’s darn good. Anyway, his latest trumpet-toot is about Saatchi S blasting some sustainable knowledge out into the marketing world. He says:

“This week Adam Werbach’s book Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto, was launched on the world. Adam is CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S– Saatchi & Saatchi’s specialist sustainability agency, and a great guy, who shares my belief that sustainability is the most realistic strategy for long term business success and business growth. His book comes from the heavyweight Harvard Business Press, so it’s been worked over by the business management pros …”

Sounds like it’s worth reading, at least for other agencies who want to bring more to their campaigns than the cleverest headlines on earth.

Two things strike me. One, that such a huge thought-leading commitment is being championed by an ad agency (most agencies aren't so visionary). And two, that with this book, they are giving their knowledge away to other agencies. They must truly be more concerned with the planet than just making ads, and they know that this is how the can lead the movement. Smart.

Kevin Roberts, again: “At Saatchi & Saatchi our North Star Goal is to ‘help a billion people create their personal sustainability practice through the products and people that touch their lives.’”

Crazy.* Most agencies North Star Goal is to win awards.

Not coincidentally, one of their biggest clients is WalMart, who is changing their bad reputation into green leadership one (see below). Kudos to Adam and his superfriends.

(For more on Saatchi S, read a Marketing+Good exclusive interview with their VP of Strategy, HERE. Or watch their little video, HERE.)

* And when I say “crazy,” I mean crazy good.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

WalMart’s Green Ripple

This just in. Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that WalMart’s green initiatives are becoming martial law. The retailing giant is telling its 100,000 suppliers that they MUST report their green stats to consumers on their packaging.

Holy crap. If they can pull it off (i.e. make it simple and meaningful), this move could wake up a whole lot of WalMart shoppers. They walk in for the price, and might make decisions for green reasons instead.

And, holy crap. This is going to be expensive for suppliers to update their packaging.

Good luck, WalMart. There’s nothing quite like throwing down the green gauntlet, especially if you’re the biggest retailer on the planet. This is going to wake people up, fo sho.

(Read the full WSJ article, HERE.)

Some lucky brands will be able to take full advantage of this, perhaps making their green credentials a major message in their ads.

(And stay tuned for the Saatchi S part of this equation. They are the Robin to WalMart’s Batman.)

Friday, July 10, 2009


Today, I got an e-mail from the Bread Art Project, an online campaign for the Grain Food Foundation that supported Feeding America. It said, “Together We Made A Big Difference,” citing the earnings of $25,000.

Cynical guy that I am, I instantly guessed that the site must’ve cost at least twice that. It’s a very cool site, created by Mullen (see earlier blog post HERE).

So wouldn’t they have done more good by simply giving the marketing budget to charity?

This logic makes me think of the RED campaign. Converse, Target, Motorola, Gap, and many other huge retailers participated, not to mention celebrities. Critics of the RED campaign have said that they spent more on marketing than the amount they raised for charity. “They should’ve just given the marketing budget straight to charity. It would’ve done more good,” the critics say.

My response: that option wasn’t on the table. At the beginning of the project, they probably had a choice. The retailers could either send postcards to their databases, asking for donations, and maybe donate some themselves. (And they could’ve blown the whole budget that way.) Or, they could do something bigger. Something that invented new products, that let retailers own the campaign in a bigger way, something that consumers make a statement, and join a movement. They decided to do the latter.

If there’s a marketing budget, it’s a marketing budget. It’s supposed to get spent. And the more good it can do in the process, the better. Is it wasteful? Possibly. Maybe the ROI isn’t there. Maybe Gap should stop paying to make clothes, and use that money to eliminate AIDS in Africa instead.

I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

We can’t evaluate a “marketing+good” campaign on pure ROI for the charity. It’s a muddy mix of Goodwill and revenues that comes back.

Using marketing budgets for “good” is a win for the world. And if it’s also a win for the brand, so what? That's great. It encourages them to do it again and again.

Perhaps the cost of getting famous brands and celebrities to raise $200 million for Africa is $500 million.*

Even if it is, I still say do it. Because the alternative is to spend the full $500 million on a regular ad campaign with zero going to Africa. And maybe fewer people lining up to buy.

* these numbers are completely made up.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The “Bolt-On.” Microsoft Internet Explorer 8: A Browser For The Better

This is what’s called a “bolt-on.”

In its efforts to get “hip,” Microsoft has been running all kinds of ads. And it’s well-known that Crispin has the Windows portion of the business (with their “I’m a PC” work). In the past, Crispin has famously launched multiple campaigns for a single brand (Burger King, VW and Microsoft come to mind, not to mention when they had Mini).

So when you see an ad for the new Microsoft browser that’s pretty damn strange, you might think, “Was that Crispin?” I did.

Well, the answer is no. This campaign is from a shop called Bradley and Montgomery ( And it gets stranger.

Guess who directed it? Bobcat Goldthwait (aka, Bobcat Goldthwait, Commercial Director).

But this blog post isn’t about any of that.

It’s about the “bolt-on.”

By “bolt-on,” I’m talking about a campaign that has an auxiliary component – another spot, website, sidecar of a campaign to go along with it - one with a charitable spin.

In perhaps one of the least strategic examples of this, Internet Explorer 8 is doing good by donating to Feeding America. (Is it me, or have they become the cause-du-jour lately?)

They say, "One in eight Americans struggle to find enough to eat. Download Internet Explorer 8 and we’ll donate 8 meals to help feed the hungry." It's a Browser for the Better. And apparently the connection is ... the number eight?

If Microsoft Internet Explorer wants to do some good, how about putting computers in inner-city schools? Or something – anything – to do with technology, or enabling access to information, or privacy issues? Feeding the hungry is 100% worthy, and 0% strategic.

Don’t get me wrong. I love it when the hungry get fed. But this choice made a lot more sense when Quaker Oats did it with Goodby and Edelman. Sure, that was another “bolt-on” campaign, but one that was a lot more strategic and closely tied to their main campaign.

Complicating matters even further, is the main campaign inventing fake ailments that IE 8 cures. Okay, that's not entirely original, but still funny. So, if you're going to add a charitable component, maybe you could help cure a REAL ailment. Hm? Just a thought.

Bolt-ons aren't bad. But this one is a missed opportunity to do something that's strategically aligned with what the brand stands for. When choosing to do some good, that's always a solid place to start. Decide what the brand/campaign stands for. Then the choice of what charity to support reinforces the core identity of the brand.

(Thank you Brandon Murphy, Director of Strategic Planning at my agency, for coining the term “bolt-on.” You can read his blog HERE.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Absolut Gets Naked for the Gays. (Thankfully, Alec Baldwin just writes.)

As long as there is someone being discriminated against, there will be an opportunity for anyone – even a brand – to take their side. And in so doing, take the moral high ground.

Here, Absolut Vodka loses its label for folks being discriminated against due to their sexual orientation. “In An Absolut World, There Are No Labels."

The vodka brand goes on to say, "The vision from Absolut is to challenge the entire concept of labels and prejudice, in pursuit of a more diverse, vibrant and respectful world.”

Creatively, this is so simple and gutsy, it's great. And it works because the bottle is so iconic, even without the name of the product printed on the front you know exactly what brand it is. Not many brands can do this. Absolut realized they could, and then had the guts to take their name - arguably their very brand - off the package. That's cool.

And while the topic of Prop 8 is hot, Alec Baldwin offers his unique clarity in a little article, found HERE.

To see how another huge brand is responding to Prop 8, click HERE

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NBC is a Brand. NBC is a Brand Doing Good

If you’re NBC, how do you do good? You have no physical product, no stores to appear in, your product isn’t filling land fills.

First, maybe you realize that any loyalty you may have is likely to the shows, not to your network. Secondly, use what you have.

NBC has millions of viewers who love certain characters on their shows. The asset they’re leveraging here is not the viewers, and it’s not so much the celebrities, but it’s the LOVE. One nice thing about doing good: celebrities like to join in.

The spots are as entertaining as the shows (well, some of them are), so people won’t change the channel.

Is the program working? All I know is, if it’s mainstream enough for the leading major network to get behind it, then I’ll bet more of mainstream America is “greening their routine.” It’s “normal-ified.” Here’s a bit about being healthy:

A star-studded clip about NBC’s “The More You Know” program in this handy video.

Even better, are NBC’s fake PSAs featuring the cast of The Office. (There’s a bunch of them on YouTube.) Here’s some useful information from Dwight Schrute about the Arctic Wolf.

If all your brand has is a loudspeaker and a spotlight, then that's what you can use for good. And guess what, your customers like you for it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Tree Falling In The Frosted Flake Forest

Apparently, Frosted Flakes is doing good.

Maybe I’m not hearing about this because I’m not watching Saturday morning cartoons. But I do pay attention to advertising. I have no idea why this isn’t getting more chatter. Perhaps kids’ ballparks isn’t as PR-friendly as a “green” program? Perhaps the media department fell asleep at the wheel? I don't know.

I will say this. The audience is pretty narrow. The ads seem to talk to parents, but only parents of little league players. (Including Tony the Tiger only makes sense, since he’s such an icon for the brand.) But for the 90% of parents out there whose kids aren’t in little league, this pitch doesn’t work. (The “Plant A Seed” language is confusing. Makes me think it’s a save-the-planet thing. “Fields of Dreams” or something would’ve been closer.)

I also resent the “write us a letter and we’ll decide if you’re worthy” approach. I’m all for consumer involvement, but this smells judgmental for some reason. I’d rather know that every box that I buy sends a little money toward the effort. That’s easier for me, and a real reason to buy.

Your heart’s in the right place, FF. the campaign is even integrated with their web site, etc. But the execution of the program? Not ggrrrrreat.

See their site, HERE.

(I believe this was done by Kellogg's agency, Leo Burnett.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Levi’s Gets Political

Wow, what a gutsy choice by Levi’s.

Whether you’re for it, or against it, certainly you’ve been hearing about California’s same-sex marriage ban. It’s a heated debate, but is it too hot for a marketer to touch?

Levi’s dives straight in, taking sides with the gays. Making a stand. Saying, “we believe in equal rights.” Will it attract customers? I bet it will.

Levi’s store mannequins are being adorned with “White Knots,” the symbol for same-sex marriage rights.

This post isn’t about “good” vs. “bad.” It’s about building a belief brand, and being part of the conversations however nasty it may get.

As they say, victory goes to the bold, not to the smart. (Perhaps it goes to both.)

Read the New York Times article, HERE.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tom Morello’s Hard-Rock-Mission-Slash-Marketing-Lesson

Tom Morello is a modern day guitar god, having rocked the crap out of the nineties with Rage Against the Machine. He dabbled in supergroup mediocrity in Audioslave with Chris Cornell, and now? Now he’s back. And he’s back to his save-the-world-with-rock mission. Rage was always very political, speaking truth to power, and giving the oppressed a very loud soundtrack. Morello is taking those beliefs, and now mobilizing the masses – turning his fan base into an actionable mob.

The new group is called Street Sweeper Social Club, currently opening for the NIN/JA tour. (That’s Nine Inch Nails / Jane’s Addiction for the kids out there.)

He’s got a new front man, Bootsy somebody, who raps as well if not as angrily as Zach de la Rocha did in Rage. And here’s the kicker. After shredding and riffing for a good 45 minutes (I can’t lie, the crowd was loving it), Morello grabs the mic and says this:

“We are on a mission. To feed the hungry, fight the power, and rock the f*** out.” (The crowd goes wild.) He continues, “If you are with us, text in right now …” And yes, right there in the middle of the concert, people took out their phones, jacked-up on rock adrenaline, and joined the SSSC mission. Right then and there. I know I did.

Every night, Morella takes an enthusiastic crowd, and turns them into a community around a belief to do good. (There are also a lot of great online/social media bells and whistles with SSSC and the NIN/JA tour.

So, what can marketers learn from Tom Morello? First thing, I’d say, is to find your mission, save the world, and rock the f*** out.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Real Winner Of American Idol (Wasn't This Guy)

Hint: it was an advertiser, yet they paid nothing for the exposure. They had one of the most well-produced spots in the 2-hour spectacle, and paid zero for production. And while Kiss was busy lighting the stage on fire, and the losers were busy taking their last gasps of the spotlight, the real winner was busy saving the world.

The real winner of American Idol this year was Toms Shoes.

You remember the spot. A hip shoe company using AT&T service as they go on a mission to give new shoes to kids in need. I don’t know about you, but my take-away wasn’t “I love AT&T.” It was “I love Toms Shoes.”

We’ve seen this structure for a spot before. One friend/colleague of mine calls it “Reflected Light.” By putting the spotlight on one of their corporate customers, they look good. Or so the theory goes. (See the SAP campaign, or Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield.) Did it work for AT&T? I think it worked a lot harder for Toms Shoes.

I love what Toms Shoes is doing as a company, and I bet a lot of other people do too. (For every pair you buy, they give a new pair to charity.) And I would buy some, but, well, the shoes are so … ugly. I am in line to buy based on belief and shared values. Just waiting for a product I actually want.

See that? A company that does good gets customers who want to buy. And they might get other companies to pay for their TV spots.

Toms Shoes site is HERE.

What else can doing good can get a brand? How about an A-list director? (Story, HERE.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cisco: Welcome To The Human Network

So, there you are, one of the biggest tech infrastructure companies in the world, and you’ve got a great tag line. You’re looking at the next year’s marketing plan, and wondering if you should just keep sponsoring more golf tournaments.

Or perhaps, there’s another way. Something that engages people. Maybe there’s a way to use your power for good.

Cisco has decided to do just that. They’re re-interpreting their tag, “Welcome To The Human Network” and engaging people to go green. It’s a program called One Million Acts Of Green, and they already have over 1.7 million people signed up worldwide. (They should’ve called it One Billion Acts Of Green, since billion is the new million.)

They frame it to support their message – that there is power in this human network. (And in case anyone misses that connection, the CEO says it at least three times in the web site’s welcome video.)

They’re not asking for much. Just one little thing. Multiply that times a million, and you start having an impact.

Welcome to the human network indeed.

One criticism: the creative. A video of the CEO talking (badly) on the web site? The name of the program doesn’t use the phrase “Human Network?” It’s enough to make me think this was cooked up by their PR firm. Seriously, people. When a program is this good, let’s do it justice with some decent creative.

(PS – I committed to my one little act of green. I’ve been using paper cups for my coffee, tossing about two a day. So, I’m going old-school and from now on, using a classic ceramic mug. Less waste is a good thing. And my mug is cool.)

Check out their program, HERE.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

To Do: Drive Less

This is the paradox of big companies trying to "do good." They can reduce, reuse, and recycle all they want, and even ask us to do the same. But in the same breath, aren't they convincing us to use their product less? To bike, bus, and carpool, instead of driving a new Honda all over?

Ah well. Small steps. And great ideas in the process. I still can't help but like this Honda spot from Wieden+Kennedy London.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

At Last.

The One Club has announced the Green Pencil, “Honoring excellence in environmental advertising.”

From the One Club site: “As history has proven, the power of advertising can do more than just create awareness for a brand. It can inspire. It can influence. It can even change the fortunes of a brand on a global scale. Just imagine what it could do for our planet. To that end, The One Club is asking for more than your eco-friendly One Show entries. We're asking all creative and strategic thinkers in our industry to approach environmental organizations that could benefit from the power of advertising. Not only could your efforts benefit the planet, they may well end up landing you the next Green Pencil.”

This is fantastic, since it may bring even better creative to the “green” cause. Although come to think of it, the One Show has been strong in the public service category for a long, long time.

They list 17 environmental groups on the Green Pencil site. I hope these aren’t the only “clients” they will consider for the Green Pencil.

Here’s why. Non-profits have small budgets. That’s why I love seeing big for-profit brands applying their colossal budgets toward doing good. Imagine the Organic Consumers Association’s marketing budget. Now imagine the Tide detergent marketing budget. It’s got to be ten times the size – or a hundred times. So, which program is going to have a bigger impact? (Social media may change that equation.)

I hope we see entries for the Green Pencil that include for-profit brands. They're doing at least as much to help the environment as the non-profits these days. Brands with gigantic budgets that activate their customer base to create some massive change. Otherwise this is just a call for entries of more ads that “ran.” Great creative with little impact.

At the very least we will see some great ideas. Maybe it’ll inspire some big brand with some actual money do take up the torch and do some good.

Read about the Green Pencil HERE.

I guess now I won't have to do THIS. (Or do I?)