Skip to main content

Staples Easy Button Campaign Benefiting Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Cause Branding® Made Easy

Years ago Carolyn Cone and her eponymous Boston agency Cone, Inc., started using the term “Cause Branding®:” branding cause marketing, as it were.

I don’t think she or Cone, Inc. had anything to do with Staples Easy Button campaign.
If not, then at least Staples owes a debt of gratitude to Carol Cone because this campaign is a fine example of Cause Branding®.

In the States there are three national office supply superstores: Staples, Office Depot and the much smaller OfficeMax. Staples invented the business model and remains the largest company as well as the class of the bunch. Its stock has outperformed its competitors… as well as the broader stock market… and its growth prospects are superior.

Staples has countless other competitors including wholesalers and regional and local suppliers and stores. It’s a crowded marketplace, in other words.

So Staples began to do what any self-respecting marketing-driven company would do, they begin to brand themselves to break free from the clutter. Their positioning is that using Staples services and products is “easy.” In a series of witty ads they show people in office and other settings hitting a big red Easy Button to cut through the usual baloney of office-life.

On the Staples website you can watch the commercials, download them to your iPod, view the outtakes, even play Easy Button-themed computer games.

Now in an homage to Cause Branding®, that same Easy Button is available for sale in Staples stores and online. The product, in English and Spanish versions, costs $4.98 and proceeds from the sale of the product benefit Boys and Girls Clubs of America up to $1 million a year.

When you press the Easy Button a voice intones in English (or Spanish if you bought that version), “That Was Easy.’

This is Cause Branding® the way Carol Cone dreamed it up. The customer gets a cute gimmick that’s been featured on the hit TV show The Office, the company’s branding is extended, the cause is supported in a meaningful way, and a halo extends from Boys and Girls Clubs of America to Staples.

That said, I have some quibbles. The proceeds language is weak and confusing. Better to just say what the donation will be. The point of purchase (POP) display in the stores, which is illustrated above, is subtle to the point of being underwhelming. And it’s not clear to me why Staples is running the promotion through their company foundation… the Staples Foundation for Learning… and giving that entity equal billing on their POP materials and their website. Truth be told, I struggle to find any external advantage to branding their foundation at all in the promotion. Finally, it wouldn’t hurt Staples to expend a little more effort explaining the mission of Boys and Girls Clubs and its impact on kids on the POP and website.


Popular posts from this blog

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Cause-Related Marketing Meets Microfinance and Mix it Up

You’d have had to have been in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the last year or so to have missed the run up of microfinance. Between 2004 and 2006 more than $4 billion of capital flowed into microfinance institutions. All told experts say the total loan microfinance loan portfolio may be as much as $12.5 billion. And of course the father of microfinance, Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Microfinance is now so respectable, so effective, (so profitable!) that it’s already enjoying its first global backlash.

Actually that first sentence is hyperbole. Because even in Ulaanbaatar… far from almost anywhere on the vast, frigid steppes of Mongolia… microfinance is thriving such that the earliest recipients of micro loans there are now complaining about taxes and government bureaucracy! And May 29-31, 2008 the Conference of Microfinance Institutions will convene in Ulaanbaatar, the eleventh such annual conference.
Now Advanta, a credit card issuer to small…

Cause Marketing Beer with BOGO, Brew One Give One

On Monday’s post I touched on the topic of telling people what your cause marketing campaign accomplished when completed. I’ve recommended this approach to clients as a way to keep open the lines of communication with customers and clients and to get extra value from the campaign.

In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

But what if that really cuts across the grain in your organization? What if it’s just not in your corporate DNA to do anything but to frontload your cause marketing activation? Well, then, add the report back to the activation of your next cause marketing effort.

New Belgium Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colorado, said to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States, did just that with this ad in Sunset magazine. I found this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

New Belgium donates $1 for every barrel it brews and sells. It’s a BOGO cause marketing effort, Buy One Give One. …