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Terrific Paper Icon Cause Marketing from Whole Foods

We’ve all seen paper icons that sell for $1. A few sell for $5 and fewer still for $10. But how’s this for ambition from Whole Foods Market? The top listed price for their paper icon is $180.

Talk about ‘whole paycheck!’

Sorry that was a cheap (and irresistible) shot at Whole Foods which has turned out a very well-thought out and well-executed paper icon campaign. Probably the best one I’ve seen in the last five years.

The campaign benefits the microcredit effort of Whole Foods’ Whole Planet Foundation. The Foundation partners with microfinace partners in 29 countries in the developing world, with an emphasis on regions that supply product to Whole Foods. By design most of the microenterprise loans go to women.

The fit, therefore, is very clear. Microfinance when coupled with microenterprise, has a good success record at lifting people out of poverty worldwide even if it isn’t a panacea, and remains widely respected in America.

The icon uses both sides, which I always recommend. In the copy on the back they use the persuasive principle of ‘social proof’ by reporting that customers have given more than $6 million in the past to the campaign, while Team Members (employees) have donated $2 million and vendors another $1.2 million.

Too bad the social proof is relegated to the back, where people are likely to see it only after they’ve already purchased the icon. It would be a simple matter to use the social proof as the headline and call to action; “Join the six million Whole Food shoppers who have already donated…”

I like that the icon tells a story and it depicts people who are being benefited, also a smart choice. They could have closed the loop by saying that the loans have helped Aree (the woman in the photo), become self-reliant or that she now employs a staff of 4 or whatever.

The suggested $180 donation amount actually helps tell the story. While $180 is a lot to add to your grocery bill, it’s a very small sum when you consider that might be all it takes to launch a new entrepreneur like Aree. I’d love to hear how many Whole Foods customers choose the $180 option.

The icon was placed in an easy-to-spot plastic holder at the checkout stand.
The colors are bright and the design is smart. There was a matching poster and tri-fold brochure on a nearby bulletin board. The cashier didn’t mention the icons as I was checking out, but she did warmly thank me for buying it.

Kudos to Whole Foods on a wonderful paper icon campaign.

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