The three varieties are ‘Sexy Hot Tan,’ ‘Forbidden Fruit,’ and ‘Sunstroke.’ Pricing is $11.99 per 6 ounce bottle.
All feature cheeky shots of Ferrell’s head on someone else’s body. Some of the shots are …ahem… more cheeky than others. The Sunstroke variety, seen on the left, has a double-meaning that also makes reference to Cancer for College’s several annual fundraising golf tourneys.
Cancer for College was founded in 1993 by Craig Pollard, a double-amputee and two-time cancer survivor himself. Pollard learned that many of his peers… kids who had also fought and won their battles with cancer… wouldn’t be able to attend college because of the financial toll cancer takes on families. He determined to do something about it. During his senior year at University of Southern California he wrote the business plan for Cancer for College.
Pollard and Will Ferrell were fraternity brothers in Delta Tau Delta fraternity at USC.
With his access to the media, Ferrell is a powerful friend to have, of course, and his participation has generated a respectable amount of publicity. Just Google ‘Will Ferrell sunscreen.’
Dame Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shoppe, proved that it’s possible, if not easy, to build a valuable worldwide brand without advertising if your cause resonates and you’re good at seeking and getting publicity.
But if the folks at Cancer for College want this to take off…and it could… they’re going to have to get the lotion into some other distribution channels. Roddick, of course, had retail channels.
The Cancer for College website seems hastily thrown together. But all the elements are there; there’s plenty of Ferrell, a good mix of the emotional appeal of Pollard’s own inspiring story and the kids who’ve received scholarships. It just need to be put together in a more logical and appealing way.
I don’t think I’m looking too far ahead, either. The Index of Leading Indicators turned slightly positive in April, suggesting the economy has troughed. If history holds, economic growth is somewhere between one and four quarters away Stateside.
Although I think I can make a good case for cause marketing now while still deep in the recession, I believe we may emerge from the recession with a different environment for cause marketing.
Here’s the reason: America has too many retail stores. Retail analysts say that more than 200 of the nation’s 210 DMAs (marketing speak for 'designated market areas') were ‘fully stored’ in 2007! For most chains growth by adding stores has long since ceased to be a prudent strategy.
A number of retailers, unable to secure credit terms, are giving off a death rattle including Barneys, Blockbuster, Eddie Bauer, Claire’s Stores, Guitar Center, Michael’s Stores, Rite Aid. Blockbuster, notably, is doubly-cursed since it not only faces a cash crunch, but a broken business model. Even Starbucks has eased off its store on every corner strategy.
Many other established chain stores, trying to save their very business, are closing individual stores and shuttering line extensions, among them Liz Claiborne, Ann Taylor, and Talbots.
To give those statistics some dimension consider that right now in America there is 5.7 square miles of empty retail space, about six times the size of Monaco.
In April retail sales overall were down 4 percent from March 2009 and 11 percent over April 2008. [For my part, I’m not worried about what the nation’s municipalities are going to do with all that empty retail space so much as I’m concerned about the shrinking tax base.]
At the same time e-commerce as a percentage of overall retail sales has grown every year since 1999, a result not so much of a lower cost environment, as much as the capability the Internet gives online merchants to endlessly segment audiences. Since the fourth quarter of 2000, e-commerce retail has grown faster than overall retail, suggesting that growth in e-commerce is cannibalizing bricks and mortar retail sales.
Part of this is technology-driven. With outfits like Doba, a PayPal account and the right Wordpress theme, you could be running an e-tail business by tomorrow. The barriers to entry into retail sales have never been lower.
In the same breath, I should note that the largest general e-merchant, Amazon, has seen sales almost double from 2006 to 2008 to $19.1 billion.
Worse, from a retailer’s perspective, consumers have basically won the retail wars. Consumers have better information, global sources, and patience. Even purveyors of luxury goods have lost pricing power in this new paradigm.
- There’s too many retailers
- The potential for nearly infinite competition
- A more savvy shopper
- A depressed sales environment
If I were short seller, I’d be shorting retail stocks now and for a long time into the future.
To bring this all home for cause marketers, of the 10 troubled bricks and mortar chains listed, I’m seen at least some cause marketing campaigns from five.
More to the point, with a few notable exceptions, cause marketing promotions are overwhelmingly consumer facing. Studies suggest that cause marketing is most effective for companies that advertise. Put directly, cause marketing generally takes place in retail settings.
What effects do I see?
- I see renewed emphasis by cause marketers on restaurant cause marketing. Restaurants are retailers too, but they have the advantage that customers people can’t really ‘place-shift’ their eating they way they can their shopping. It’s either take-out/drive-in, dine-in, or eat at home.
- Because retail will continue to shift online cause marketers are going to have to learn some new tricks.
- While we may yet see some consolidation in online retail, for the intermediate term there’s going to be more operators targeting niche audiences; women’s handbags, outdoor sporting goods, wooden toys, etc. Such niche e-tailing relies overwhelming on Google Adwords which are 8-12 words. In that formulation, there’s not much space for cause marketing.
- I expect we’ll see more affiliate cause-marketing, like the one made possible by the bookmarklet developed by Tal Ater.
- For the time being offline retailers need to put a face on their stores, something cause marketing is built for.
During the public debate on the issue of taxing sales from e-tailers, the bricks and mortar retailers will claim… with some degree of truth… that they are generous donors to charity. Right now, the best that Amazon can counter with its sponsorship of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and the PEN American Center. That’s not going to be good enough for the 800-pound gorilla of e-tailing when pressure is brought to bear.
The celebrity moms include Gwyneth Paltrow, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, Angie Harmon, Debra Messing, Marcia Cross, Bridget Moynahan, Catherine Bell, and Brooke Shields.
When you buy outfits from Pulitzer’s ‘Colorful Cause Jubilee Collection for Summer 2009’ proceeds benefit the EBMRF.
The mom and me swimsuit collection illustrated to the left is from the Gwyneth Paltrow collection.
I have my usual qualms about the ‘proceeds’ language. But more than that I think Lilly Pulitzer missed some tricks here, almost all related to a lack of integration.
The pronouncement was made in mid-April, yet the Pulitzer blog has only two posts, including the announcement itself. There’s a few more in Facebook and a smattering in Twitter. On the Lilly Pulitzer website the promotion itself is obscured by the title in the menu board “Jubilee.” If you weren't looking for the word 'Jubilee,' you'd never know to associate it with the cause marketing promotion.
If you come to any of the pages for the celebrity designs any way except through the Jubilee area of the website, you’d be hard pressed to conclude that there was a cause marketing promotion in place.
Lilly Pulitzer’s colorful clothing has a fan base. But for customers in nearly 2/5ths of the States in the U.S., the only place to buy the clothing is online. So if individual product pages that are part of the promotion don’t draw the connection between the product and the cause, there’s a meaningful number of customers who are unlikely to learn about it on the Lilly Pulitzer website itself!
Nowadays you just can't presume that visitors to your website navigate their way to individual pages of your site starting at your home page and proceeding in a linear fashion. Every page of a website must ... to some degree... stand on its own.
Moreover in a case where the company has picked a charity that isn’t well known, like EBMRF, it’s crucial that there be a note or two of explanation about the why of that support. If it’s personal, say Lilly Pulitzer herself has a grandchild or one of the employees at Lilly Pulitzer has a nephew or niece with the condition it would help the promotion if customers knew that. And, rest assured, that could be communicated without exploiting any kids.
Even if it’s not personal, customers need to know the why of it to make sense of it in their own minds. It's not enough to say it's a 'good cause.' I, personally, know of hundreds of good causes. Perhaps the cause was persoanlly affecting to Lilly Pultizer herself. Maybe the cause itself is wonderfully efficient. Or their research approach is especially innovative. Customers want to know the why of a company's support for a charity that is featured in this way.
Two parting thoughts: A limited number of the celebrity designed outfits are available. More could be made of that scarcity in the promotion. Lilly Pultizer might have considered making at least one item of each celebrity’s line super exclusive and sold it at a premium price with correspondingly higher percentage of the proceeds going to EBMRF.
It might even be fun to encourage a sense of 'competition' between the celebrity moms over whose line sells the best. Imagine Brooke leading but then falling behind Angie Harmon's line. She might tell her agent to book her on Ellen or Tyra to make up the lost ground.
Finally, I know it’s part of Lilly Pulitzer's branding, but the pastel-colored type on the website combined with mice-type sized font, made some pages hell for me to read.
But there are times… plenty if you ask me because this is how I make my living... when companies shouldn’t be allowed to do their own cause marketing. For an example, look to the left.
If you conclude, as I do, that this is not a bad April Fool's Day joke, your mind automatically starts trying to draw connecting lines. My first reaction was that maybe the sub rosa meaning was that by using the product it would obviate the sexual drive and the children that often result when it’s not…um… obviated.
But, in fact, there is no such connection here, and that suggests that this campaign’s chances of success are limited. If I can coin a phrase, children are the ‘universal cause’ and it appears the promoters defaulted to it.
What would have been more fitting? The estimable author and nonprofit consultant Nedra Weinreich, who brought this to my attention, suggests Planned Parenthood, or an AIDs or STD charity. Good thinking.
For that matter, the promoters could have simply polled their customers and stakeholders and asked what they’d respond to.
Lining the walls of the office of Joe Lake, the new CEO of the Starfish Television Network, a 501(c) (3) public charity and television network founded in 2006 and headquartered in Midvale, are pictures of the many celebrities he has worked with.
There are pictures of Joe with Goldie Hawn, Sidney Poitier, Jeff Bridges, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rob Lowe and Walter Cronkite, and affectionately-autographed publicity stills from Bob Hope and Rich Little.
It’s something you’d expect in the office of a Hollywood agent, or at a celebrity hangout in Manhattan, or Chicago or Vegas. But the Starfish Television Network, whose mission is to tell the stories of nation’s nonprofits in a way that educates, entertains and inspires its audience by airing television and video programming for and about the nation’s nonprofits, isn’t in any of those places.
It’s not in Los Angeles or even Atlanta. It’s in Midvale, Utah. And while he grew up in Salt Lake City and lives in Draper, Utah, Joe Lake is no Zelig sneaking into all those pictures.
Along with Mick Shannon, the Osmond family and actor John Schneider, Lake was a co-founder at Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) more than 25 years ago and spent many years in executive positions there before retiring in 1998. Since its founding, CMN has generated more than $3.4 billion for children’s hospitals in the United States and Canada.
That’s big-boy money, to be sure. To give some perspective, last year CMN raised more than $300 million, about what Utah tech superstar Omniture grossed in 2008.
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that there are “no second acts in American lives.” That’s because he didn’t know Joe Lake.
Since his time at CMN, Joe’s retirement has basically had two speeds: Fast and faster. Joe Lake was, for instance, the guy who helped Larry King grow the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, built up its board, broadened its fund-raising approach and then left it in the hands of other professional managers.
So a few minutes before he walked The New York Times bestselling author and Starfish supporter Andy Andrews into an interview on Good Morning America, I put a number of questions to Joe about Starfish, nonprofit fundraising in a recession, and how companies and nonprofits can help each other out in these tough economic times.
You were on the board at Starfish. What induced you to take the CEO job?
“I wasn’t looking for a full-time position and certainly wasn’t ready to take on a CEO role. When I was asked to serve as chairman of the advisory board, I said yes because it was a great concept— the nation’s first charity channel— and because I went back with the founder and other staff to the early years of Children’s Miracle Network. We all worked the Children’s Miracle Network telethons together. Over the course of that year or so as board chair, I saw amazing things happen — getting a channel on DISH, receiving programming from hundreds of nonprofit organizations, a start in original programming. As the board of trustees decided to move forward in this third year, they asked me to come in as CEO. One of the biggest reasons I said yes was this: If we could do what we did for Children’s Miracle Network with just a 21-hour telethon once a year, then how much good could we do with 24 hours 7 days a week of airtime?”
Starfish has a really big mission, doesn’t it?
“Starfish Television Network is the nation’s first charity channel. We are dedicated solely to bringing you programming which can make the world a better place for all of us. We want to bring stories of organizations and individuals that are making a difference, in their communities and around the world. There is so much good going on in the world — so many people giving their time, energy, resources — so many people who want to create a positive change in the world for themselves and future generations. Starfish shows those stories.”Starfish is now entering in its third year and has thereby already succeeded. What’s it going to take to get it to the next level?
“We really want to become a true network — not just in television terms but in terms of being a resource for our member organizations. We want to partner with them to help them get their message out and raise more money to do more good. We want to partner with organizations on original programming, provide fundraising ideas and new dollars, and collaborate on best practices. To take Starfish to the next level will require more funding, more sponsorship and more people. The more we can do, the more we can help.”More than 25 years ago you personally pitched Bill Marriott on the benefits of supporting a cause. In a sponsorship relationship, what can charities offer businesses that they can’t get elsewhere?
“The opportunity to have a third party acknowledge the social good works that corporate America does that goes unnoticed and unsung. In this season of tough economy, every company is looking for an edge, charity offers that advantage. I think the biggest thing to remember is that, all things being equal, consumers are more likely to select a brand that they see tied to cause. Use every available opportunity to recognize the support of sponsors.”I can’t think of another charity in the States that has a mission and capability to broadcast television the way Starfish does. The flip side is that Starfish can offer sponsors benefits they couldn’t get anywhere else, isn’t it?
“We can offer sponsors recognition with multiple and ongoing airings of programs on Starfish. For example, one organization has an eight-minute program about their mission and cause. Since receiving that program, it has aired 96 times. If that program were to be sponsored, a business would be tied permanently to that program. Therefore would have already been seen as ‘this program brought to you by XYZ’ nearly 100 times on a national network! If a business has a particular cause they want to align with, Starfish has programs to fill that need. If a business has a specific program they wish to sponsor, we can discuss that too. There are so many ways for businesses to show that they are good corporate citizens and that they care about making a positive difference. Really, where else on television would a program receive more than two to three airings total? Because of our mission, we are able to share messages and re-air programs at a higher frequency than other networks. In addition, while Starfish Television Network is not allowed to sell advertising time, we believe strongly in enhanced donor recognition. Depending on their level of support major sponsors of Starfish receive produced acknowledgements of their support several times each month, week and day. These announcements thank companies for their sponsorship and allow us to recognize them in the best possible public light for their support of not just one organization but all 500+ charities featured on Starfish.”The New York Times ran a story earlier this month about how the big fundraising galas are having hard time finding people to honor because the companies the honorees work for don’t have the money to spare. It’s pretty tough out there for nonprofits right now. You’ve been through recessions before as a fund-raiser. How does this one compare?
“You mention fund-raising galas. It’s true. Charities that do fund-raising galas need to approach them in a different way in these challenging times. The days of honoring a CEO or executive because their company will put up the bulk of the sponsorship money is thing of the past right now. These galas can still be done and can still be successful, however charities need to provide events that are more fun, maybe a unique experience, an event that can draw on attendance — not sponsorship or honorees —for funds raised. The key is to spend less and raise more. Work with vendors to underwrite the hard costs. Don’t pay celebrities for appearances and entertainment. It is possible to have a first class event without spending a ton of money. Recently, I was involved in a gala for St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Las Vegas. It was their 52nd Annual Mardi Gras Ball. Despite the economic challenges, we saw their attendance double and they raised over $1 million.”You keep a file of fundraising ideas for nonprofits that have crossed your desk, cite one or two that you think would be perfect for right now.
“You want to make the ‘ask’ easy on the donor as well as the person asking. Most of Children’s Miracle Network’s money was raised one dollar at a time, from selling Miracle Balloons paper icons or grass roots fundraising. Work with your sponsors on getting their employees and the community involved. Do just ask them for money. The key with paper icons is to ask, every person, every time. You’ll get a lot of ‘noes’ but you’ll be surprised at the ‘yeses.’”Anything else you’d care to add?
In 1982, when Mick Shannon, Marie Osmond, John Schneider and I launched Children’s Miracle Network, we often encountered people asking why someone hadn’t thought of this idea before. Well, in 2009, Starfish Television Network is in the same position. People constantly ask me, ‘Why hasn’t this been done before?’ I don’t know, but I’m sure glad they didn’t.”
You back? Good. I hope you included lots of high protein items. If not, go find an unopened jar of peanut butter (in a plastic jar, please) and add it to the bag, then come back and start with the third paragraph.
With that out of the way let’s talk about what word of mouth guru Andy Sernovitz calls “The Chocolate Problem.” Nobody, Sernovitz points out, has ever emailed a friend and wrote in the subject line, “Have you ever tried this stuff called chocolate? It’s amazing!”
Whether you like or dislike it, everyone knows about chocolate. And this campaign from Cambell’s, the US Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers has a bad case of the chocolate problem.
Stamp Out Hunger doesn’t need a new look or tagline, it doesn’t need broader media exposure, or better celebrity support, or new relevance; it couldn’t be more relevant than right now. Stamp Out Hunger needs something that makes it remarkable again. That is, something that makes people want to remark about it. It needs better word of mouth.
My specialty isn’t necessarily word of mouth marketing, but here are four ideas that could help make Stamp Out Hunger remarkable again.
- It could use some really dramatic success stories captured on video. We frequently hear about hunger, but we seldom hear about people ‘graduating’ from hunger thanks to food donations. Yet as sure as I’m writing this there are thousands of people who were once hungry, got help, and are now on the giving instead of the receiving end of this equation. Such a story doesn’t diminish the need. Indeed, framed right, such stories would underscore that the system works. I’d Tweet a story like that.
- The campaign could certainly humanize the letter carriers even more. Their images are plastered all over the post cards. But imagine something more. I suspect that there are letter carriers out there whose conscientiousness was raised by Stamp Out Hunger and who on their route noticed and personally did something about hunger. I’d post something on this blog about a letter carrier who personally intervened to help hungry children get fed.
- Or how about this? I’ll bet there are letter carriers who consistently bring back way more food than the average carrier because they personally ask people on their route for help. That’s a nice a story that ought to be told and could go viral.
- What about a contest element? What if on the postcard I received on Wednesday, May 6 there was a promotion for a contest of some kind. Nothing grandiose mind you, which would undermine the purpose. But suppose if you donated, say, 15 or more cans of food that you were entered into a contest to meet President Obama at a food bank in Washington, D.C., where you would work together for some period of time sorting donations. That would be pretty cool and it would attract good and appropriate media attention.
LimeRicki.com was started by three sisters, one of whom is a breast cancer survivor. The company is headquartered here in my home market, and so in the spirit of bonhomie I offer LimeRicki.com six suggestions to make the most of their cause marketing efforts.
First off, I commend you for including the reason why you support breast cancer research. That's good. One small suggestion, consider identifying which sister is the breast cancer survivor. She doesn't need to bare her soul, but this small change makes the promotion even more immediate.
- Name the breast cancer charity you’re supporting. Your customers love that you’re doing cause marketing. But they want and need to know the specifics before this can influence their purchase decision. As far as the mechanics of this you can name the charity, but don’t refer to your donation as a sponsorship or use the organization’s logo. You’d need permission to do that. I’d even discourage you from linking to the organization’s website.
- Specify how much the donation will be. Experience and research demonstrates that your customers are more likely to be moved to action if they know what the amount of the donation is.
- Use the pink breast cancer ribbon on the product page. As I’ve written before, no one owns the pink ribbon. You can therefore freely put the ribbon in close proximity to the product whose sale benefits breast cancer research.
- Explain the promotion on the product page. As it stands, we learn in the About Us section, but not the product page itself, of LimeRicki.com that the Gabby line benefits breast cancer research. That’s too far removed to be helpful. Place the specifics of the promotion directly on the product page. Also, link to the Gabby page from the About Us page.
- Activate the promotion. You have a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Promote the donation there first and then send a press release out announcing the donation. If you have a newsletter, publicize it there, too. Where should you send the press release? Check your sales records to find the zip codes where your product sells best. Send the release to the media that makes the most sense in those zip codes. Since you also sell in retail, add a paper tag to the Gabby line in that explains the promotion.
- Court the ‘mommy media.’ Find the influential mommy bloggers, mommy portals, mommy TV, and other mommy media and court them unashamedly. Cause marketing on behalf of breast cancer research is a wonderful opportunity to tell the Limericki.com story in these markets. Better still, they can link directly to your site when referring to Limericki.com.