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Copy and Paste Cause Marketing

Like the look and feel of a webpage? Well copyright laws notwithstanding, nothing could be easier to steal. Open the webpage’s source code and there it all is.

From a distance it looks like Dannon Yogurt’s newish label campaign benefiting the National Breast Cancer Foundation opened the source code to Yoplait’s longstanding effort for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and just copied and pasted.

Both benefit breast cancer charities. The donation amount… $0.10 is the same. The pink ribbons on each are similar, as are the labels in question. The only real difference is that Dannon is redeemed via an online method and Yoplait requires you to mail the labels to a physical address.

It seems like a defensive measure on Dannon’s part. In one fell swoop, Dannon made Yoplait’s cause marketing effort slightly generic. Of course, that’s a two-edged sword because it made Dannon’s yogurt cause marketing slightly generic, too.

To continue the source code metaphor, there are webpage designers who take source code whole cloth from another website and paste it into their own, (sometimes for fraudulent purposes). But a webpage that copies the look of CNN.com, say, is a pale imitation, because CNN.com is more than the sum of its source code.

I’ve often written in this space suggesting that you my readers ought to “steal this idea” whatever the idea is.

What I mean is, take this idea that comes from Kroger or Microsoft or General Mills and figure out how it could work in your industry or with your charity, and then improve upon it. When most webpage developers look at another webpage’s source code it’s to see how that page is put together and then come up with something that is rather different, and hopefully better.

That’s not so dissimilar than artists like Roy Lichtenstein or Jasper Johns studying Dali’s ‘Persistence of Memory’ and coming to Pop Art. Dali and Johns and Lichtenstein all painted on canvas. But their sensibilities were not the same. And what we ended up with are two different kinds of art, even though you can see the thread that connects Johns and Lichtenstein and the other Pop Artists to Dali.

General Mills is a good example of this for cause marketing. It’s likely that when General Mills developed its Boxtops campaign that it borrowed heavily from Campbell’s much more senior label effort. But while General Mills is in the food business like Campbell’s, it’s not primarily in the soup business, although it has long owned Progresso. General Mills brought its own sensibility to its Boxtops for Education. It streamlined and improved upon Campbell’s approach, which was then a little clunky.

I think the cause marketing world would be richer if Dannon had chosen to be inspired by Yoplait’s label campaign, rather than to try and copy and paste it.

Happy Hanukkah!

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