The Last Cause-Related Marketing Label Campaign to the School Dance

Nestle Waters North America has a label campaign out called GoLife that benefits schools by providing sports equipment and school trips. But there’s an elephant in the classroom.

If label campaign benefiting schools sounds like familiar ground, you’re right. Campbell’s has been doing one for more than 30 years, and General Mills has been doing their Boxtops for Education campaign for 12 years. General Mills is the larger of the two in no small part because schools can redeem the Boxtops for cash rather than merchandise.

Schools and PTAs/PTOs encourage parents to collect boxtops/labels and assign someone to manage all the collecting, counting and redeeming. In my kids’ school one of the secretaries has this assignment and there are two large barrels in the school office, one for Labels and one for Boxtops.

Before the Internet this was a whole lot more work than it is now. But even still there’s probably not too many school secretaries or PTA/PTO label coordinators who relish this part of their work.

GoLife has been going on (it appears) since 2007 and will run through the end of the 2009 school year. My kids’ school wasn’t registered. And, so far as I can tell, neither were any of the 71 schools within a five mile radius of my zip code.

I don’t know who built GoLife for Nestle of if they put it together internally, but it leaves me with a number of questions.
The hard end-date makes it seem that Nestle is just testing the waters with GoLife.
Sports equipment makes sense strategically, since Nestle also promotes water as a healthy alternative to juice boxes.
Nestle Waters North America promotes that it uses less plastic for their bottles than before, but one way or another much of that plastic ends up in the wastestream. Even the bottles that are recycled require energy to transport, shred and melt them.

As I’ve mentioned before, progressive local governments and groups have begun to ban bottled water at their confabs.

I’d be willing to bet a double-thick milkshake that over the next five years Nestle Waters North America experiences a slow but steady erosion of sales in the U.S. because consumers are waking up to the issue of the wastefulness of bottled water.

I’m all in favor of using cause-related marketing to help companies solve challenging PR issues. But if it’s going to preserve market share Nestle has to do something more holistic than GoLife to counter that perception.

Then there’s the issue of being the third cause-related marketing label campaign to the school dance. Third place isn’t necessarily a bad place to be. But to be successful in third place you have to be really strongly positioned against the competition. I just don’t think Nestle’s done that here.

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