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Crystal Geyser Label

Buck Up, Guys!

Some day I'm going to write the ultimate case study of the greatest cause-related marketing campaign ever. It raised hundreds of millions of dollars for a terrific cause and it went on for years with no fall-off in support. It generated tons of positive publicity and, if you're an American, chances are you physically handled it more than once. The most intriguing part of that campaign, however, was that it raised money by charging more money for the product.

Imagine that!

(Email me at if you want to know what the campaign was).

But I'm not reviewing that campaign today. Instead I'm reviewing a cause-related marketing campaign by Crystal Geyser, the bottled water people. Their chief selling point is that their water is bottled at the source, not trucked to a distant bottling plant.

Their cause campaign is a tree-planting program in conjunction with the American Forests, which has several of these kinds of relationships. Crystal Geyser will fund the planting of 50,000 trees a year over the course of five years for a grand total of 250,000 trees.

I don't know how much this costs Crystal Geyser, but since American Forests reported $3 million in gross receipts on their 2005 990, and $900,000 in direct public support, it's probably not a high-dollar deal. In fact, American Forests asks only a $1 a tree from the public. I'm sure they have also have "wholesale" prices for large donors.

Why does this matter? Well, I bought two 1.5 liter bottles of Crystal Water Natural Alpine Spring Water for $1 (sell by date: 06/14/08) at the discounter chain Big Lots.

$1 for three liters!

Among the advantages of cause-related marketing is that it's supposed to keep you out of the discounter stores. It supposed to help preserve your pricing power.

Now it could be that those suppositions are false. But I think it's equally likely Crystal Geyser doesn't have the right cause, or the right campaign, or the faith in themselves as marketers.

By gum, buck up guys.

You are, after all, selling something that anyone could get out of a tap!


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