Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Again, Where Are The Bottled Water Brands?

It’s plastic, but not.

It’s plastic made from corn, and they say it’s “completely compostable.”

Water bottles account for Carl-Sagan-sized amounts of plastic in land fills. It’s every water brand’s huge Achilles’ heel.

(For two manufacturers of these corn-plastics – cups, bottles, etc – click HERE and HERE. And a sales site, HERE.)

How big a deal is the plastic bottle problem? In marketing terms, two huge brands with huge budgets have staked their entire positioning around it. One is Fiji Water, promoting all the carbon offsets they buy to make up for their bad practices. They now claim to be the first “carbon-negative” brand. But that’s only thanks to all the carbon offsets they buy. (Wouldn’t it be better support for an earth-friendly position to not use plastic in the first place?)

This ad is HOOEY.

The other brand is Brita water filters. You’ve seen the ads. They sell against the whole category of water in plastic bottles.

The first water brand to adopt corn plastic bottles can lay claim to the true positioning of “good for the earth.” Lots of water brands cozy up to the earth – falsely. Here’s a chance to lead. A chance to use your package as media.

It’s not just about positioning. It’s about delivering.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What’s Pink And Goes On Forever?

a) the 3-Day Walk Against Breast Cancer
b) the Energizer Bunny
c) both

Spot-on sponsorship choice.

Quit Whining. Saving The World Just Got Easier.

So there you are, working on an ad campaign, and you think, “Hey, maybe the way to engage folks is by adding a charitable or green component in here.” Great. How do you do it? This site called Social Actions might be a good place to start.

(The following is re-posted from Triple Pundit under the Creative Commons license. Thanks TP. Good stuff.)

"One of the reasons cause branding campaigns work so well is because it allows consumers to make doing good part of their regular routine. Someone can buy a cup of coffee and feel a sense of purpose without having to do any extra leg work.

This ease of giving is magnified by Social Actions, a website that has aggregated literally thousands of charitable organizations and programs to connect users with causes, groups and volunteer activities. Through a sophisticated database, users can access a multitude of resources designed to link them with opportunities for taking action without having to labor over research to find the right charity or how to get involved.

Harnessing the power of social media and open source technology, Founder, Peter Deitz has made taking social actions as simple and targeted as a Google search with results as far-reaching as your desire to change the world."

Full article and interview with Social Action’s founder, HERE.

A Few Nice Sentences From Brandweek Lately

“Giving back has become a trend for marketers, including Starbucks, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and others that have centered their message around helping the community.” – 3/25/09

… “a perfect example of that rare and optimal occurrence when a company can creatively market itself and help local governments and everyday Americans across the country.” – 3/25/09

… “a growing field of brands placing the community at the forefront of their marketing messages. Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Starbucks and Scholastic, in conjunction with FAO Schwartz, are just the latest …” – 1/31/09

“A focus on the community ‘is in the air,’ … Community service is bigger than green.” – 1/31/09

… “they (consumers) are asking themselves, ‘What am I passionate about in life? What is going to be meaningful to me?’ said Chip Walker, head strategist at Strawberry Frog” … - 1/31/09

Take a peek at this short, cool BrandWeek article HERE.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Honda Insight TV Spot: Green Car, Green Production?

From Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam comes this spot for the Insight hybrid. Here’s the “making of” video, with the spot itself at the end.

Initial response is mixed, with many folks thinking a 1,000-car commercial is a big waste of gas and electricity in itself.

AdRants says, "After doing the work to see what was possible W+K and Honda made the decision to look at a more environmentally friendly alternative. The result was a mix of Houdini 3-D modeling software for animation precision, a small number of Insight vehicles for scale and a few hundred Insight headlights." (Full article, HERE.)

As for my thoughts, I’ll refer back to an earlier post.

KFC and Potholes=Hungry for Strategy

So, KFC is launching a societal marketing campaign to fill potholes. When I first heard this, I thought, “with their chicken? Is it that bad?”

But no, their message is freshness. And so, as convoluted boardroom logic would suggest, they are “freshening up” the asphalt around their towns. (Full story in Brandweek, HERE.)


Chicken and pavement? Is it just me, or is that really easy to misinterpret? (Insert chicken-crossing-road jokes here.)

They could take a lesson from Goodby and Quaker, and try addressing hunger. You know, because they sell food.

(I have to give them points for even starting to think about doing "good," though.)

The “Good” Awards

I’ve decided to start an advertising awards show. (I know, another one.)

I’m the judge, and there are no “entries.” Just the stuff I find. It’s not about cancer ads or save-the-endangered-species ads. Those ads are already going to heaven.

No, my awards show is for regular brands who decide to do some good in the process of their marketing. Coke, Pepsi, Bud, Miller, Tide, Cheerios, Levi’s, Ford, McDonald’s, and so on and so on.

The hard part in a category like this? Finding killer creative. (Why is the creative generally ho-hum with this stuff?)

Want to enter? Just send me a note.
I’ll let you know how it pans out.

Something Good In Those Diapers

Another Procter & Gamble brand does “good.” Pampers helps its customers help babies.

What I love about this is the simple math; one pack = one vaccine. It becomes very tangible for a shopper when they’re putting it in their grocery cart.

I’m not a huge fan of the creative here. I give it a B. A bit on the predictable/bland side, but I’ll bet moms like it.

And yes – here’s another example of “good” attracting talent. Salma Hayek lends her distinctive voice to the project.

Two questions:
Is this Saatchi again? My preliminary search says maybe. Can anyone confirm?
And, does anyone know how many vaccines they actually gave away? Do tell.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Toast: Social Marketing Meets Good

Everyone’s all a-twitter about social marketing these days. It’s well-covered. The experts are emerging, and now you can hardly avoid the topic. They’re fantastic tools, giving us almost unlimited opportunities to created earned media and buzz.

So how can these things be used for good? Here’s one great example from Mullen.

The Bread Art Project.

Go online, create a slice of artistic toast, and share it with a friend. For every slice that’s created, a dollar goes to Feed America.

Try it, it’s fun.

(This is my creation, titled "SquareHead.")

Extra Credit

Anyone adding an element of “good” to their marketing can learn well from these veterans of cause advertising, Amnesty International. In this ad they do a very important thing. They give their supporters all of the credit.

It says, “Hundreds of thousands signatures preceded this one. Guantánamo Bay is being closed. Thanks to those who supported us.”

So, for example, if Diet Coke and its fans raise a lot of money and awareness for heart health, afterwards they have a chance to close the loop and strengthen the bond by giving all of the credit to the people who participated in a very public way.

It's like saying "thanks." They'll thank you back.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trendwatch 2009: Everybody’s Making The World A Better Place

Creativity Magazine highlights the best creative work being done daily.

In today’s online edition, I couldn’t help but notice how many agencies are making the world better in some way. Or at least pretending to.

DDB Brasil asks you to “Think Globally.”

Y&R Tel Aviv fights for a baby sea turtle.

M&C Saatchi makes an Australian cable company seem whale-friendly (naked branding in “good” clothing).

TBWA/Chiat/Day creates a celebrity radio station for the Tap Project, HERE.

Rubin Postaer is pushing its hybrid, the Insight. (A green product, but not green marketing at all.)

And of course, people are still watching Crispin’s collaboration with the Coen brothers for Reality (“there’s no such thing as clean coal”), and Leo Burnett’s collaboration with Alanis for WWF’s Earth Hour. (Already covered in earlier blog entries.)

Not to mention the Boxed Water packaging, and Agencies In Action hunger-fighting campaign.

All in one week.

Some of this is pure Cause marketing, and some of it doesn’t do much “good” at all. But it’s all pushing to make the world a better place.

Now if we can just get bigger brands to use their big ol’ budgets and mobilize their big ol’ consumer bases behind this kind of thinking, imagine the kind of change that could bring.

The people are buying.

EarthDay.net vs. EarthHour.org

An excerpt from an actual conversation:

“Hey, Earth Hour is coming right up.”

“Yeah! I love Earth Day. I think it’s April 22nd, right?”

“Well, yeah, Earth Day is April 22nd. But I was talking about Earth HOUR. Totally different thing.”

As one of my idealistic friends says, “One day, every day will be earth day.” I don’t think this person knows Earth HOUR even exists.

Please, someone at Earth Hour call someone at Earth Day. Get on each others’ calendars. Until you guys get coordinated, we’re all confused.

For the record, Earth Day is indeed April 22nd. And they would like you to “plan an event,” which is a pretty big ask for a Wednesday.

Earth HOUR is Saturday March 28th. They want you to turn off your lights for one hour at 8:30pm local time. (Seems like this would actually be easier on a Wednesday.)

There are many fine companies planning campaigns around these events, or at least participation. Please comment if you know of some.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Saatchi S: the “Blue Movement”

Saatchi&Saatchi recently opened a new branch of their agency, Saatchi S. It’s the socially-conscious branch of the agency. They call their mission “blue.” (As in, “bigger than green.”)

Saatchi’s worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts has declared the goal of, “transforming one of the world’s great advertising companies, with 7,000 employees in 84 countries, into the world’s most powerful sustainability advocate… (to) radically dematerialize and de-carbonize the products they sell.” Wow.

Founder/CEO of Saatchi’s “S” group Adam Werbauch says, “Shopping gives us an opportunity, a platform, to reach more people than we can reach through traditional means of activism.” Hear, hear.

Saatchi S made at least one top 10 list of “most influential agencies of 2008.” The agency I work for has research outlining the 4 top trends of the coming year, one of them being "good" (i.e. making the world a better place).

I think there's a future in this stuff.

You can watch Adam Werbauch's launch speech about the Saatchi S vision - it's kind of long, but it starts HERE.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Alanis Morissette: If a Cause Can Become A Brand ...

Earth Hour is now so big, it's a brand. So, if a cause can become a movement, and a movement can become a brand, it makes you wonder. Can it happen in reverse?

Can a brand become a movement? Can a brand become a cause?

(Btw, if you want Alanis to be in your ad, it had better benefit a good cause.)

The Bottled Water Race Is On

This piece of creative packaging isn't for any particular bottle water brand, but it should be.
It's such an obvious idea, it's rings like a starting gun.

A lot of water brands claim to be "earth-friendly." I can't wait to see which one adopts this packaging first.

A Regular, Everyday, Award-Winning Ad Campaign

No dollars going to charity. No puppies, seals, or children in Africa being saved here. And yet, this is a great example of societal marketing. It’s just an idea from the agency. “Maybe the benefit of this cold-water detergent is that it saves energy.” And everybody knows that saving energy is good for the earth (and your wallet).

You can see the campaign in-context by picking up the 12/07 issue of Communication Arts. It’s the Ad Annual. Kudos, on a number of levels.

(Copy: If everyone in New York City washed their laundry in cold water for just one day, the energy savings could be 5.7 million KWH. Enough to power every light in the Empire State Building for an entire month. Save loads of energy. Tide Coldwater. – From Saatchi & Saatchi, New York.)

Could the ad you're working on have a benefit of a greater good? Maybe that's the ad.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fiji Water: So Good, Yet So Bad

Do a Google search for Fiji Water.

The first two results are the official corporate website, which looks like this.

The third result, and at least two others on the first results page, rail into the company for bad practices. (Other results include benign sales-related pages, etc.)

What is going on here? Is Fiji Water good/green, or the opposite?

Their corporate website says: … well, it’s too much to quote. But it screams green. Deep green. “Sustainability. Saving the rainforest. Reduced packaging. Help by recycling. Water for Fiji. Investing in Fiji’s Future. Global Giving. Carbon Negative.” – wow.

But human rights segments say this … well, again it’s too much to quote. But basically the water biz on the tiny island seems guilty of denying its own people clean drinking water, lobbying against a water tax that would provide it, disrupting the region’s vital natural water cycles, using lots of oil to ship from far away, and other big bad business things.

As THIS article says, “Fiji Water exported about 130 million liters of Fiji water in the past year. To present a "green face" to the world -- Fiji Water returns a token amount of money to bring clean water to certain areas of Fiji.”

If I just look at the corporate website, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an overreaching green message from any company ever.

Sounds to me like Fiji Water is trying to compensate – read: Greenwash – some very bad behavior, in a very big way.
It’s their marketing budget vs. the citizen greenwashing watchdogs who are calling them on it.

Being Good vs. Doing Good

I was looking at a company called Innocent today. They make fruit smoothies, and other foodstuffs. The products are all-natural, and their corporate ethics are squeaky clean. They’re doing “good” simply by being good.

It’s an interesting distinction. Some companies operationally ARE good (i.e. have a conscience), and then there are companies that go out and DO good.

Companies that ARE good: Tom’s of Maine, Innocent (drinks), Method (soap), Icelandic Glacial water, Starbucks fair trade coffees, Kashi and other organic foods, etc. A Hybrid car may fall into this category. They make internal decisions about how they run their business with one eye on profits, the other on impacting the world. The sustainability movement pushes for this sort of thing, and it’s a huge part of “good” marketing. Their customers are fans because of the way they do business.

Then there are companies that DO good. Many of those are featured in this blog. Pedigree helping shelter dogs, Quaker feeding the hungry, Diet Coke advocating heart health, Tropicana saving the rainforest, etc. These companies aren’t necessarily “green” or operationally “good” at all. But they see the value in helping society – not just for the world, but for their brand.

Ideally a company will do both. They’ll BE good, and they’ll DO good as well. But heck, I’ll settle for either.
They’re both very real reasons to choose one brand over another, especially in a parity category. (“Would you like to buy the soda that’s two cents cheaper, or the one that saves babies, ma’am?”)

So while WalMart keeps tweaking it’s operations to become more “green” (thanks in part to the efforts of SaatchiS), shoppers will be looking for ways that part of their consumer buck can go toward making the world a better place in the regular course of buying dog food.

Hey, lazy people can save the world too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tide Loads of Hope: the Final Analysis (side B)

Tide's Twitter-thon has been blogged to death, so I will keep this brief and connect you to some insightful thoughts by others.

(NOTE: This is a dual-blog post covering two aspects of P&G’s “experiment in social media” for Tide; the social side (covered by my colleague Griffin Farley on his blog, Propagation Planning), and the charitable part of the campaign, which I’ll comment on.)

Of everything I've read, one dissenter’s comments stung, probably because of how true they were. Brian Morrissey, digital editor for AdWeek says, “Using charities as a guise for people to do marketing for enormous corporations gives me the creeps. … what happens when we commercialize those bonds?”

I agree. It’s a slippery slope. A conundrum. And I don’t know the answer. This may be the biggest lesson from this experiment. How do we not ruin a good thing by getting our advertising all over it? It’s the biggest danger with Marketing+Good; coming off like the disingenuous manipulators that we are.

It’s an icky feeling. Like when I’m listening to NPR and I hear several sponsorship mentions in a row, then they tell me I’m listening to non-commercial radio. I am? Really? ‘Cuz I just heard 3 ads. It sure doesn’t feel like it.

BMorrissey also asks about donating to Feed America directly, “Why is P&G necessary?” Answer: it’s for the exposure of course. One thing Tide has that Feed America doesn’t is a colossal marketing budget. Tide gets to shine a nice big spotlight on a good cause.

Last point: I understand Tide washing clothes for a relief effort (i.e. Katrina). I don’t get Tide feeding America. Not super strategic.

There’s a great round-up of online reporting of this event, HERE.

For Side A of this Final Analysis, read Griffin’s take on the Social Media aspect of the whole crazy thing, HERE.

The Gap Does A Chain Letter for Good

A great brand, a great cause, a weird tactic.

They call it “Give & Get.” In this good-hearted promotion, the Gap (parent co. of Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy) extended its Friends and Family discount of 30% to “everyone.” (At least, everyone who got the e-mail forwarded to them.) At the same time, they would donate 5% of every purchase to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Fantastic.

I have two questions.

Is there any strategic relevance between The Gap and … leukemia? Not to take anything away from cancer research (my mom had breast cancer, and God knows we need the research). But this is a clothing brand.

What does The Gap stand for? Hip, comfortable fashions for all. There are lots of clothing charities that could use support from a retailer like the Gap. Help abused women dress for job interviews. Help homeless people with new clothes. Help struggling families provide clothing gifts for their kids at Christmas.

Suddenly The Gap’s core business has a mission, a greater purpose.

Imagine if they did an ad about that.

Next question. What’s up with the e-mail chain letter? If they really want to do some good, why not shout it out loud? Invite everyone. Or maybe, just maybe, is a chain letter the earliest form of social marketing known to man?

In any case, I hope the Gap and it’s friends and family donated tons of money to the L&LS.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CMOs Love Naked Models (Let’s Make This Really Simple)

Here’s a fun (yet dated) statistic from 2005:

100 “green-screened” stocks increased 97% in value. By contrast, the Russell 2000 had a gain of 23.2 percent, and the S&P 500 has had a loss of -16.9 percent. – Winslow Green Index (WGI) of Boston-based Winslow Management Co.

What do you think? Do today’s stats still favor “green” stocks?

In more recent news, Inc. Magazine reports that companies that do “good,” are doing well in these tough economic times. Why? Because nowadays “good” and “green” products are also the ones that save people money in the long run. Read their anecdotal story from 2/20 right HERE.

The point is, doing “good” attracts money. Want to be profitable? Add some Good to your marketing, and build in a way for your customers to participate. They will reward you.

“You can make money and do good at the same time. They are not separate acts."
-Tom Chappell, founder, Tom's of Maine

Goodby’s Debut w/Quaker = Good

Well, whatd’ya know. The first major campaign for Quaker from their new agency Goodby has a major component of do-gooder-ness in it. It’s called the Quaker Go Project, and it’s done well. Here’s why.

It’s on-strategy: a food brand fighting hunger in America.

It’s actionable: customers submit UPC codes (via Facebook), and each one “donates” a bowl.

It’s risk-free: “up to a million bowls.” Quaker knows exactly what their commitment is at the beginning.

It’s simple: check out their website (it’s much easier than Diet Coke’s for heart health).

It’s got a little flash: it includes celebrity chef Art Smith, which doesn’t overshadow the client or the cause.

Creatively, the whole campaign is cleaner too, focusing on the simplest end benefit of powering your day right. Though the tagline “Go Humans Go” is pretty darn expansive, it works with the main campaign and the Good sub-campaign as well.

Oatmeal is pretty simple stuff, and wholesome too. It’s no time for the post-modern ironic approach. Element79’s plastic Quaker statue is officially ancient history. I’m going to have some oatmeal to celebrate.

So - has anyone seen the results of Quaker’s Go Project? It officially ran from 1/12 – 2/28. I’d love to know if Quaker’s customers hit the one million mark. (Though Quaker is continuing the Go Project online, HERE.)

(NOTE: Goodby coordinated with Edelman to pull-off the Good part of this campaign, and Edelman also deserves huge credit for this. You can read Edelman's release, HERE. And yes, the NYTimes picked it up; story is HERE.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tropicana Saves The Rainforest, Freakonomics Misses The Point

(Thanks to my colleague Tracy Y. for tipping me off to this one.)

Freakonomics isn’t just a bestselling book, it’s a major blog on NYTimes.com.

Here’s an excerpt from a March 2nd post:
“Saving the Rain Forest One Glass of Orange Juice at a Time, By STEVEN D. LEVITT.
I was drinking Tropicana orange juice this morning. The company has a clever marketing campaign. If you go to its website and type in the code on the Tropicana carton, Tropicana will set aside 100 square feet of rain forest to preserve on your behalf.
What’s clever about this?
Whenever a company can give away something worth 11 cents that people think is worth $5, they are doing something right.”
(Read the whole article, HERE.)

The trouble with this analysis is that it only looks at the math. Would a free giveaway (say, a nice pen, or a mug, or a button) that seemed like it must’ve cost $5 but only really cost the company 11 cents get the same customer response as saving the rainforest? I don't think so.

Doing good is a far better value-add. It casts an aura; a halo effect that regular promotions just don’t have. It becomes something people care about. A lasting reason to believe in that brand. And that’s worth even more to Tropicana than the cost of land in a rainforest.

Imagine the campaign they could build around this message.

(I do agree with F’onomics when they say, “I think corporations do not exploit the opportunities to bundle consumption of their products with contributions to charity as much as they probably should.” But for different, less quantifiable reasons.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Follow Up: Speed Dating+Good

So, I requested an invitation to the Speed Dating event. (Note to my g-friend, it’s in Australia so don’t worry.) I got this nifty invitation (above), and I decided to follow a link included, which led me HERE.

Apparently, it wasn’t just some amateur move after all. It’s a full-fledged (small) business, and I like it. It’s called Everyday Hero, and they operate in Australia.

They enable anyone – from Steve’s-Going-For-A-Jog, to yes, Fast Love (the Speed Dating event I was invited to, but am not going to, I promise) – to do what they do for charity. Imagine the implications, especially if a company decided to use it. "Order some Juice Brand schwag online, and the money goes to Farm Aid." I'm sure there are a zillion better ideas out there. (Gotta keep it aligned with the values, you know.)

These guys could be the missing link between companies and Good.

When the client objection comes up, “Great but, we just can’t fulfill on a Good idea like that.” The response now can be, “Yeah, but maybe these guys can do it for us.”

This idea is bigger than Australia. Let's hope it reaches our shores, but quick.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Speed Dating+Good

“Looking for love, or just love a good cause? Then come along to our Speed Dating night!
If you're in your mid-20s to late 30s, then sign up now! Just email 'loveagoodcause@gmail.com' to register. No need to say you're attending' on Facebook.
A donation of $20 guarantees you a place, and gives you 3 minutes with 20 guys or 20 girls. All proceeds go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.”

Hey Match.com. Stop running ads and steal this idea.

(A scrappy promotion from some marketing amateurs/Australians having fun with love. Is it strategically aligned? Hm, romance and breasts? I think yes.)

(And special thanks to Griffin Farley once again for the tip on this one.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Strategy Firm Built Around Positive Social Change

(NOTE: This post is stunt-blogged by my friend, colleague, and all-around smart guy Griffin Farley. Take it away, Griff. -DY)

Kelli Peterson is the founder of a brand consulting firm called The Change Project. This firm is designed to provide brand strategy to companies that want to impact positive social change. The homepage of their website describes their ideal client, "If your business or organization is in the business of 'doing good' we would like to work with you." Kelli has been a friend and business partner that I have relied on for years from her days at Sterling. She had a chance to share her vision of this emerging Societal Brand Consultancy at The Horseshoe Tavern in San Francisco immediately following the PSFK Ideas and Trends Conference.

The 'Shoe' as we call it was starting to pick up with the Happy Hour crowd and it allowed my Planning Director, David White, to see the most non-marina bar in the marina. During that meeting the vision was still coming together and the team was forming to drive this belief forward. Kelli has now articulated that vision on her website as a purpose that resonates with the philosophy behind Marketing + Good. I wanted to share a brief portion of The Change Project purpose statement here:

"We believe that we are in another phase of the “giving back” evolution. From the 1970’s saving the rainforests > to philanthropy > to cause marketing > to corporate social responsibility, we believe that “green”, “sustainable” and “the power of blue” are simply incremental steps to elevate the awareness and responsibility we all have to bring the world back into equilibrium.

We believe that the concept of “giving back” should be another factor in the process of making smart choices - the equivalent of value, price and quality."

The Change Project is a great example of traditional marketers leaving their day jobs to take a stand that both 'does good' and 'makes money.' We have been wired to believe that it is nearly impossible to achieve both these goals but thinking like this will pave the way for all marketers to think beyond the Short-Term Transaction to cultivating the Long-Term Relationship that the brand is making with the whole community.

- Guest Author, Griffin Farley

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Some of the world's biggest problems were solved over a beer. - DY)

Diet Coke+Good=Too Much Of A Good Thing?

There is a new campaign breaking now that pairs the Mega-brand Diet Coke with the worthy cause of heart health. Fantastic. So why is the real winner Heidi Klum?

Here’s my hunch. This is a sponsorship gone amuck. It’s an event that existed before Diet Coke got involved; the Heart Truth Red Dress Fashion-palooza, or whatever it’s called, with Heidi Klum, and Diet Coke was a sponsor. That was last year. Now it’s year two (actually year seven), and Diet Coke wants to “increase their participation.” (I could be wrong about all of this, btw.)

If you’ve seen the ad, perhaps like me, you thought this was Diet Coke’s way of embracing the cause of heart health. I thought it was their idea, it came from them. And maybe it did. Like a lot of soft drink commercials, they resorted to using a celebrity. Great. I’m in. What can I do? The spot says, “Join Diet Coke in in partnership with Heart Truth, and support women’s heart health,” and the web site.

Oy vey, the web site. It’s a mess. It looks very slick, but there's too much going on. There’s a sweepstakes. There are downloads (wallpapers, screen savers, etc). There’s an online Red Dress fashion display. There’s a Red Dress road show schedule. There’s a fashion show at fashion week. I mean, it’s great to get more attention, but you know what? I just saw the TV spot and I’m at the web site. You’ve already got my attention. I’m looking for a way to help.

They also do a lot of things right. They let you spread the campaign with friends via e-mail forwards and Facebook links. There’s a pdf you can download with an “action plan” about how you can help the campaign (it’s buried somewhere on the site). There’s some small mention suggesting that you yourself should see your doctor (isn’t this the point of the campaign?). And you can donate your Coke points in simple $2 increments to the cause.

All good stuff. But holy crap that’s a lot going on.

It’s a tricky thing, knowing how much is too much. There are so many great ideas marketers can use, it’s tempting to say, “Let’s use ‘em all!”

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m a guy and I like things simpler. Maybe women can take it all in and not be confused like I was.
But I didn’t want a screen-saver, to enter a sweepstakes, and I didn’t have Coke points to donate. I wanted an easy way to help. I’m buying Diet Coke anyway. I’d even buy more if that would help (and I guess it would if I participated in their Coke Points program and donated my points, kind of a hassle).

Don’t get me wrong, I give this campaign an A++ for effort, and for taking this on in the first place. It took a colossal amount of work to put this all together. It’s just frustrating to be left as a spectator, a fan, when an army of Diet-Coke-drinking women is ready to do more. More than send-to-a-friend, sign up for a points program, even more than get my heart checked (will they really even do this?).

On the other hand, maybe that’s enough. Is it?

(PS – One of the most baffling parts of this campaign is the web page where you actually donate/redeem Coke points. There are ads for OTHER COMPANIES on this page. Walgreens, Wii Music, Sumerlin, Chicago Tourism, and odd floating logos from Nike, Disney, Blockbuster, Delta, and more. Coke is selling ads on www.mycokerewards.com? Really?)

(PPS - Creatively, I'm not usually a fan of celebrity spots. It's usually borrowed interest, off topic, and the thing you remember most about the campaign isn't soda or heart health, but how hot Heidi Klum is.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Steal This Idea: Why Don’t Green Products Use Greener Marketing?

Companies keep developing products that are easier on the earth. And that’s fantastic. Then they start the marketing, and it’s the same old plan, same old techniques.

My question is, if a product can have Goodness designed into it, why can’t a marketing plan?

The same innovation that makes that Hybrid get 45mph, apply that end-goal thinking to the marketing. It makes sense: if a customer wants to save the earth, they’re interested in this product. So how about structuring the marketing plan so that the very purchase of a Hybrid does even more to help the earth?

One way to do this is incentives. “Buy a Hybrid from our dealership, and we’ll pay to carbon-offset the rest of your life as well.” If I were a Hybrid shopper, I’d think that was pretty cool. I may even put a bumper sticker on my car about it. But it would definitely give me a reason to check out that dealer instead of buying a used car from my neighbor on Craig’s List. The dealer wins with a sale, a customer that may tell their friends about it, and there’s another Hybrid on the road.

It sure beats “Saved By Zero.”

How Droga5’s TAP Project Could Be Better

It’s hard for me to criticize Droga5’s TAP Project campaign, now going on it’s 3rd year. I wish I had worked on it. It’s a simple, elegant stroke of genius that makes it easy for millions of people to help the world. (If you’re not familiar with this campaign, it asks restaurant patrons to donate one dollar for tap water, which is then used to provide clean water in countries that need it. It’s become a gigantic success.)

For me, this has become the model for the ultimate societal marketing campaign, except – it’s actually a Cause Marketing campaign (and a great model for other cause marketing efforts as well). What I mean is, the client is Unicef, a non-profit, a brand that isn’t mentioned in the campaign much, and a brand that doesn’t have a lot of means to spur the engines of consumer action. (That’s part of the brilliance of the campaign, that it does so much with so little.)

The thinking behind this campaign is astounding – the kind of thinking that could benefit other clients, even regular consumer brands. Imagine if PUR water filters had participated in this campaign, dollar matching the first million glasses “sold.” Suddenly, the message is “PUR helps tap water do great things. They believe in the potential of tap water.” Etc.

I’m not suggesting that a consumer brand get involved with the Tap Project. (Because honestly, I don’t think the Tap Project campaign could be any better. I only hope it gets bigger.) What I am suggesting is that other consumer brands invent their own ways to mobilize customers in a unified effort to help in a cause that’s aligned with their business. It’s very possible to build in sales incentives too.

It may sound crass, tying giving to sales, but think of the funding that normally goes toward regular marketing. Most of that money doesn’t benefit anyone. But if that campaign also benefited a cause? Imagine the impact.

Imagine how much people would like that brand.

I can hear the Marketing Managers scream, “We’re not a charity, damn it!”

Listen, if you don’t see how this kind of thinking can increase your sales, increase your revenues, solidify your positioning, increase your brand loyalty, and increase your bottom line, then you need to use a little imagination.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Chicken/Egg Dilemma of Doing "Good" Marketing

What comes first, corporate philanthropic choices, or marketing strategy?

A lot of companies have a regular charity they give to, and they give an occasional assignment to the Marketing Dept. (“Can you guys do a poster and brochure for our United Way event?”) The Marketeers say, “Sure. Does it have to tie in to our core business of Lawn Care?” You see the challenge. What the heck is that poster going to look like? A United Way logo made out of green leafy sod? Customers might be confused.

If a company has been donating to a large charity for years, it may be that choice was born from an old friendship or personal cause (the CEO’s mom had cancer), not any sort of business strategy. One large client I work with gives regularly to the March of Dimes – they’re in the grocery business. Not exactly aligned. Point is, start with the company’s core business or belief. If a client is in the food business, perhaps they can get involved with local food banks. That makes sense to customers.

There’s a nice Fast Company article about aligning philanthropic efforts with marketing, HERE.

Of course, I like to take it one step further, to make Good Marketing something customers can participate in. It becomes a joint effort between a company and its customers. Give them an incentive to join-in, like dollar matching. Or conversely, give them an easy way to give by tying it to a purchase they’re already making. They feel great about it, and you can give them all the credit for the success of the program at the end.

Actionable. Involving. Loyalty built.

The Most Ridiculous Thing To Ever Save The World


You read it right. And it's exactly what it sounds like - genius.

Proceeds go to charity. This is social marketing from the grass roots up.

My question is, why doesn’t Snuggie hop on this fleeting bandwagon and help folks organize these charitable pub crawls in every city? Pick a charity that’s aligned with their business (keeping warm = blankets for the homeless, perhaps?), and give these cozy pub crawlers a way to spread the word. Like cards to hand out to spectators with ways to give, and ways to buy their own Snuggie.

The saintly monks of old wore funny robes (and come to think of it, they brewed some pretty awesome beer). Consider this Monkism 2.0.

Just don't forget the charitable part.