Skip to main content

Check Gallery and Strategic Cause Marketing

The Times they are A-Changing

The bottled water industry generated $15 billion in revenue in America in 2006. It will top $16 billion this year. That’s more than Americans spent on movie tickets or iPods.

And while 50 percent of Fijians don’t have access to clean, reliable water, millions of gallons Fiji Water is shipped most of the way across the Pacific and then trucked from the coast to chi-chi hotels or otherwise sold at a premium across the country.

This even though almost every American could walk to the closest tap and draw out clean, safe and often good-tasting water. These and other choice facts come out in Charles Fishman’s well-wrought 6,000-word piece on water in the July Fast Company.

At a time when the bottle watered business has never been better, I predict that the only direction it can go from here is down. The times they are a-changing.

Fishman concludes:

Packing bottled water in lunch boxes, grabbing a half-liter from the fridge as
we dash out the door, piling up half-finished bottles in the car cup holders--that happens because of a fundamental thoughtlessness. It's only marginally more trouble to have reusable water bottles, cleaned and filled and tucked in the lunch box or the fridge. We just can't be bothered. And in a world in which 1 billion people have no reliable source of drinking water, and 3,000 children a day die from diseases caught from tainted water, that conspicuous consumption of bottled water that we don't need seems wasteful, and perhaps cavalier.
From a June 27, 2007 story in the Deseret Morning News:

Mayors across the country on Monday joined Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson in calling for a study of how bottled water impacts city budgets and waste streams.

Anderson, along with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, sponsored a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Los Angeles calling for the study, and according to a news release from the nonprofit group Corporate Accountability International, the conference's attendees "overwhelmingly" adopted the resolution…

CAI estimates people in the United States currently spend $11 billion yearly on bottled water, a figure it compared to the estimated $22 billion funding shortfall in the country's municipal water infrastructure budgets.

Other cities have attempted to reduce the use of one-use water bottles in their communities. Most recently, Ann Arbor, Mich., announced it would no longer
offer bottled water at city-sponsored events.
Forgive my immodesty, but I saw this coming back when I posted on Crystal Geyser water in November 2006.

So in times like this what choices do you have if your business is based on consumables? That is, what if your business model is to sell stuff that we discard rather than save after use, like chewing gum, newspapers, or paper checks?

It appears to me that the staff at Check Gallery has asked this very question and came up with some solid answers, based in part on cause-related marketing and social responsibility.

Checks are a consumable and thereby have an environmental impact. But for a check printer, that’s hardly their only worry. Checks are also threatened by electronic banking and debit cards. To get a feel for that threat, next time you go shopping count the number of merchants which have a little sign taped to the cash register, often hand-lettered, that reads “We know longer accept checks. Sorry for any inconvenience.”

Above is the front of a flyer delivered to my mailbox on July 10, 2007. The headline reads:

"America’s Leading Earth-Friendly Checks For Less."

The deck below reads;

Great designs get you in touch with your interests at a significant savings. And
whatever design appeals to you—you’ll benefit from Check Gallery’s outstanding
value and environmentally-friendly products. All checks are printed on premium,
recycled paper with non-toxic inks and are available in One-Part and Duplicate
formats in boxes of 150.

Okay, it ain’t exactly Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30, but you get the point.

In all, Check Gallery supports six charities: National Wildlife Foundation; Lupus Foundation of America; Defenders of Wildlife; National Breast Cancer Foundation; Humane Society of the United States; and, the Boat U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water.

In effect, Check Gallery has made cause-related marketing, normally a tactic, into a strategy and I applaud them for that and for addressing this issue now, even if their approach is a little ham-handed. Witness their awful logo on the top left, for instance.

Still, if you’re in the consumables business, there's probably something you can learn from Check Gallery.

Comments

Sondra said…
I know your posting is from awhile back but we stumbled across it today. Thanks for noticing our ad!...We’ve been eco-friendly for 15 years and we’ve recently updated our look and added a few more cause-related checks – all of our checks aren’t featured in the ads, but you can check out our website at www.checkgallery.com for the full listing.

We really appreciate the time you took to write about us! Have a great weekend.

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

Kiva.org and Advanta.com 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. …