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Scratch Off Cause-Related Marketing

A New Paper Icon Approach

At Staples right now is this inventive paper icon campaign for City of Hope, a research and treatment hospital in Southern California with a specialty in cancer.

It goes for the typical $1. When you scratch off the overprint, you get a bounce-back discount coupon for savings from $5 to $50 on subsequent purchases of specific items at Staples.

While there have long been coupon icons, they typically are much larger. This approach is simpler and smaller.

It’s also more versatile. It would be very easy to add a sweepstakes component. For instance, if City of hope has some kind of annual rallying point…a race, an event, a gala… the sweepstakes could bring some lucky winner(s) to the event. Although to be sure, laws in the United States would require a no-cost form of entry.

I don’t know what it costs to print these icons, but on first blush I expect that with 4 colors it’s more than with the standard issue paper icons. City of Hope’s website says the campaign began in January and that they’ve raised more than $385,000. I doubt that’s current.

I found the icons placed on the cashier counter with only a small table tent promoting them. There were no posters to be seen and the icon itself ‘wastes’ some space on the back with legalese. At the very least, City of Hope needs a sentence of description about itself and how the money will be used. The cashier didn’t ask me to buy one, I volunteered, suggesting that they don’t have sales incentives in place for cashiers.

Finally, in very busy retail environments this approach may be less than ideal, because a lot of customers, when they finish the transaction, will want to do what I did and scratch off the icon then and there.

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