Green Up Your Cause Marketing

One of the complaints greens have about cause marketing is that it typically incentivizes and rewards the purchase of more stuff. Stuff that might be useful for a while but eventually ends up in a landfill somewhere.

Into this conundrum came Sprint, the mobile service provider, and Samsung, the handset maker.

Together they came up with a cause marketing campaign that mitigates some of those usual concerns.

From August to Dec 2009, Sprint gave $2 to the Nature Conservancy for the sale of each Samsung Reclaim phone and messaging device. There was a guaranteed minimum donation of $250,000. A press release tells me that the maximum donation was $500,000, which the program achieved.

The Reclaim phone currently sells for $49.99, with a Sprint plan.

The Nature Conservancy is using the donation for its ‘Adopt an Acre’ program.

To mitigate green concerns, the phone was made from 80 percent recyclable materials and its packaging was fully recyclable. It was the first phone sold in the U.S. whose casing was made partly with bio-plastics.


I expect that the Reclaim... with its many messaging features and slide-out keyboard... is targeted at younger users, so the choice of the Nature Conservancy is slightly surprising.

There's plenty to like about the Nature Conservancy, but it's kinda like your dad's environmental charity of choice.

It could certainly be that the Nature Conservancy was just easier to work with than any other alternative. It has that reputation.

As a cause marketer, the Reclaim strikes me as a first step, not a last one. There should also be some kind of cause incentive to reclaim the phone from users when they’re done. After all, it’s a shame when recyclable packaging goes to landfills, but considering the toxins and the reclaimable materials, it’s a tragedy when phones do!

Sprint realizes this and has a goal of achieving 90 percent phone reclamation by 2017.

I humbly submit that cause marketing tactics could help Sprint reach that goal.

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