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

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.) I'm reading: Tropicana Saves The Rainforest, Freakonomics Misses The PointTweet this!

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