Jan 10 ,2017
Now that 2016 is behind us, let’s take a look at campaigns we can learn from going into 2017.
REI “Opt Outside”
As park advocates, any campaign promoting park exploration and encouraging active lifestyles warm our hearts. REI listened to consumers’ concerns over commercialization of holiday festivities, and came up with an alternative: ditch the shopping and head outdoors. Although at first glance this may sound counter-productive for a retail brand, it did just what it intended to do: gave consumers a break from consumerism in favor of reconnecting with the outdoors. REI’s brand depends on consumers’ active lifestyles, and by encouraging people to go outside it can increase their need for more outdoor gear, and helps them to become advocates for our public lands. This campaign has been running since 2015 and consistently sparks media interest and loads of engagement across social media. The “Opt Outside” campaign not only targeted consumers, it also involved one other important group – REI employees. Employees were given Black Friday off as REI closed its stores, and they were encouraged to explore the outdoors and share photos on social media, generating plenty of positive social media activity with people in outdoor spaces representing REI.
Key takeaway: Big picture strategy. Too often brands can get drawn in by the temptation to make a sale, and can miss the big picture: sometimes it’s just as important to tap into culture and be part of the conversation. This isn’t guaranteed to lead to direct or immediate sales, but it definitely helps build brand image and loyalty among consumers, which is much harder to capture than a quickie sale on Black Friday.
Columbia “Gear Up Give Back”
Columbia’s cause marketing campaign donated a percentage of sales to local conservation causes, and also partnered with nonprofits to educate shoppers in stores. Shoppers were invited to “Gear Up, Give Back” and could help raise funds simply by making a regular purchase (no extra donations necessary). The campaign resulted in a significant traffic and sales lift and strengthened Columbia’s relationship with popular local non-profits.
Key takeaway: Bring the cause to your consumers Consumers want to help, but want it to be easy and accessible. According to a 2014 study by MSL Group, 69% of millennials worldwide want businesses to facilitate their involvement in addressing social challenges. Campaigns must not only be tied to a cause, but should make it easy for consumers to take part.
Walgreens “Red Nose Day”
Red Nose Day introduced a lighter side to a heavy cause: children’s poverty. Walgreens made fundraising, well, “fun” and kept it light. Red noses were sold across Walgreens stores for $1.00 (how can you not buy one of these and post a selfie?) making it incredibly easy for consumers to get involved. In addition, featured red products were prominently displayed on a dedicated shelf so that customers could purchase additional items that would contribute more funds to the cause.
Key Takeaway: Make it fun! Poverty is a health issue which is relevant to Walgreen’s business mission to ‘Champion Everyone’s Right to be Healthy and Happy’, but that doesn’t mean the campaign can’t be fun. The comedic twist on things is unexpected and inviting. This campaign did an excellent job at facilitating consumer involvement and engagement, and raised over $31.5 million for the cause.
Our favorite campaigns of 2016 stood out, and taught us something. How can you set yourself apart while bringing your cause closer to your consumers this year? We’d be happy to help! Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Nov 11 ,2016
Direct Online Participation: Cause campaigns are doing an excellent job of posting about current initiatives online, but how many go beyond the “building awareness” phase? How many invite consumers to participate directly in the campaign online, from wherever they may be? Getting audiences involved with a cause on social media can be challenging yet it is very possible. The 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, for example, got audiences to share videos online of themselves pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads. By sharing them on social media platforms and tagging and nominating the next participants, the success of the cause was left almost completely up to social media users. Participants recruited the next participant, made time to take action, record and upload the footage, and were responsible for holding each other accountable. Whether participants chose an ice water bath or donations, all forms of participation took place online.
Convenience: Although cause marketing campaigns executed on social media are not likely to be a one-step solution to recruiting loyal supporters, it’s definitely an opportunity to create major awareness about an issue and spark engagement from target audiences. Uber led a campaign to help raise money for animal rescue organizations and attempted to get furry pets forever homes in the same initiative. People could donate $10-30 and get Uber to deliver a puppy for 15 minutes of playtime before sending them off to their next potential adoptive family. #UberPuppyBowl was successful because it created online participation, was easy and enjoyable, and didn’t require any lengthy process or long term commitment.
Strong Visuals: With less than seconds to capture your audience on a scrolling news feed, messaging must be immediately clear and powerful. High quality visuals with relatable content and good composition are a must. Not only that, but they must convey a message your audience can relate to. With video gaining traction and priority within tech giant algorithms, consider investing in video first and photos second. Also, because a big part of cause marketing involves storytelling, videos are better at getting the message across quickly and can lead to stronger emotional connections with audiences. If done well, they can lead audiences reflect on and hopefully identify with the cause. The “Like A Girl” campaign by Always used rhetoric and documentary style interviews to compose this video that went viral and is one of their most memorable campaigns to date.
Tapping Into a Cultural Trend: Remember when social media platforms were used to share photos of people rather than food? It’s been so long since the Instagram foodie movement started that Land O’Lakes thought it was time to remind people that not everyone has a good meal to photograph- let alone eat. The butter company partnered with Feeding America for a campaign which promised to donate 11 meals to people in need for every food picture deleted from Instagram. Audiences surely had plenty of food pics they could delete, and earned 2.75 million donated meals. Not only did this campaign involve convenience and direct online participation from consumers, but it also tapped into the #foodpic trend to challenge something people across social media could easily understand and identify with.
Rather than asking people on social media to leave the platforms to participate, cause marketing campaigns are making it easier for audiences to engage wherever they are, using tools they already know how to use. That’s the premise of a lot of the work GSG does: meeting consumers where they are and meeting their needs by bringing brands and consumers together to tackle causes bigger than all of us. Check out some of our campaigns or give us a call if you would like to learn more.