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The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Needs to Be Made Remarkable Again

Saturday May 9, is the nationwide Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive in the United States. If you’re Stateside, before you read anything else in this post be sure and put together a bag of non-perishable food items. Then get it out at your mailbox before your mail carrier gets there May 9. Start on paragraph two when you get back

You back? Good. I hope you included lots of high protein items. If not, go find an unopened jar of peanut butter (in a plastic jar, please) and add it to the bag, then come back and start with the third paragraph.

With that out of the way let’s talk about what word of mouth guru Andy Sernovitz calls “The Chocolate Problem.” Nobody, Sernovitz points out, has ever emailed a friend and wrote in the subject line, “Have you ever tried this stuff called chocolate? It’s amazing!”

Whether you like or dislike it, everyone knows about chocolate. And this campaign from Cambell’s, the US Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers has a bad case of the chocolate problem.

Stamp Out Hunger doesn’t need a new look or tagline, it doesn’t need broader media exposure, or better celebrity support, or new relevance; it couldn’t be more relevant than right now. Stamp Out Hunger needs something that makes it remarkable again. That is, something that makes people want to remark about it. It needs better word of mouth.

My specialty isn’t necessarily word of mouth marketing, but here are four ideas that could help make Stamp Out Hunger remarkable again.
  1. It could use some really dramatic success stories captured on video. We frequently hear about hunger, but we seldom hear about people ‘graduating’ from hunger thanks to food donations. Yet as sure as I’m writing this there are thousands of people who were once hungry, got help, and are now on the giving instead of the receiving end of this equation. Such a story doesn’t diminish the need. Indeed, framed right, such stories would underscore that the system works. I’d Tweet a story like that.
  2. The campaign could certainly humanize the letter carriers even more. Their images are plastered all over the post cards. But imagine something more. I suspect that there are letter carriers out there whose conscientiousness was raised by Stamp Out Hunger and who on their route noticed and personally did something about hunger. I’d post something on this blog about a letter carrier who personally intervened to help hungry children get fed.
  3. Or how about this? I’ll bet there are letter carriers who consistently bring back way more food than the average carrier because they personally ask people on their route for help. That’s a nice a story that ought to be told and could go viral.
  4. What about a contest element? What if on the postcard I received on Wednesday, May 6 there was a promotion for a contest of some kind. Nothing grandiose mind you, which would undermine the purpose. But suppose if you donated, say, 15 or more cans of food that you were entered into a contest to meet President Obama at a food bank in Washington, D.C., where you would work together for some period of time sorting donations. That would be pretty cool and it would attract good and appropriate media attention.
Someone like Andy Sernovitz could certainly come up with better ideas than these. But the point is this; Stamp Out Hunger is drifting right now. Someone needs to make it remarkable again.

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