L.L. Bean's Cause Marketing in Six Words

Twice now I’ve written about cause marketing campaigns that can be summed up in six-words. Both times I heard back from readers inspired to pen their own cause marketing summation in six-words. Now I’m coming back to the topic because L.L. Bean, the Maine retailer and catalog company, is using a six-word statement as a tagline for its cause marketing effort called 'Million Moment Mission.'

The six-word line is; “You Share. We Give. Kids Win.”

Here’s how it works: any time you perform a qualifying action… a like on Facebook, a Tweet, submit a story and/or photo about your experience with L.L. Bean’s merchandise or in the great outdoors…the company will donate $1 to programs for kids from the National Park Foundation. The tagline, therefore, distills the campaign very well.

The Million Moment Mission is a promotion in celebration of Bean’s 100th year in business. The campaign started on January 1, 2012 and wraps on December 31, 2012. The total donation is capped at $1 million.

The idea for these six-word statements stems from a story about Ernest Hemingway, the fine American writer of the last century who would be 113 years old this year. (The tale may even be true.)

As the story goes, Hemingway was having drinks with a literary agent. Hemingway was justly famous for his brand of manly (I can’t think of a more appropriate adjective) and compact fiction. 

The agent bets that even Hemingway can’t come up with a story with genuine pathos and real emotional punch in just six words. Hemingway takes the bet and responds with this: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Not bad, right?

The anecdote was largely forgotten until it was resurrected with the book Not Quite What I was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure by Rachel Ferschleiser and Larry Smith.

Most of the book was crowd-sourced with people submitting their six-word statements via Twitter. Here’s a few of the published winners:
“Danced in fields of infinite possibilities.”
Deepak Chopra

“Brought it to a boil, often.”
Mario Batali

And, two personal favorites…

“Found true love after nine months.”
Jody Smith

“Wasn’t born a redhead; fixed that.”
Andie Grace
I frequently advise my clients sum up their cause marketing in six words. What I typically find is that six words is enough to do the job, but not enough to begin to obfuscate. The L.L. Bean case bears this out, I think.

I’m not talking about writing headlines here. Headlines are meant to draw you into the text that follows. Six-word stories tell complete a complete, if brief, story.

And what almost everyone finds is that writing six-word statements is more fun and lots easier than they imagined going in.

Try it and you’ll see what I mean

Do you have a six-word cause marketing statement you’d like to share? Please comment below.

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