Open Source Cause-Related Marketing

Excuse me while I coin a phrase; “open source cause-related marketing.”

In effect General Mills has turned its Box Tops for Education campaign into an open source cause marketing campaign. I realized this as I walked into Sam’s Club the other day and was handed the handbill above. On the front it details a small promotion for earning bonus Box Tops.

On the backside it lists 33 items available in Sam’s Club that participate in Boxtops for Education. But here’s the kicker, they’re not all General Mills products. As I noted in my April 3, 2007 posting, General Mills opened up Box Tops to other non-competing brands in 2006.

What wasn’t apparent to me then was the degree to which General Mills has pulled its own branding from the Box Tops campaign. Notice that General Mills name and logo are conspicuously absent from the Box Tops logo. If you go to the Box Tops for Education website you’ll find General Mills in the fact sheet. But otherwise its presence is largely confined to a small copyright notice at the bottom of each page.

In effect, General Mills has opened up its “source code” to non-competing brands, including Scott paper towels, Huggies baby wipes, Hefty disposable plates, plus retailers including J.C. Penney, Land’s End, and, to a degree, Sam’s Club.

Why would General Mills do this?

Call me a geek, but I’m anxious to watch and see how open source cause-related marketing develops.

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