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Space Available Cause Marketing on Packaging

This bottom panel of this box of house brand facial tissue box from Walmart features what amounts to space available cause marketing on package, something many other sponsors could also do.

Magazines and newspapers have long offered space-available ads to nonprofits. If they have your ad in the right form that fits a hole they have in their publication... and if your ad is compelling... they might run your ad for free. But I’ve never noticed anything like that for packaging.

That’s not for lack of proximity. This box has been rattling around my car for some time. The copyright says 2005, although I doubt this box is that old. But since Walmart changed its logo in 2008, and got away from the dash between Wal and mart, the box is no newer than that.

The effort benefits Walmart’s effort in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Youth called The Missing Children’s Network. At the front of every Walmart store and Sam’s Club in the United States is a board with pictures of missing children.

Since 1996, when the effort was started, more than 10,400 children have been featured on the board and more than 8700 have been located. Walmart says 205 of those children were found as a direct result of its network of boards.

Other sponsors… especially retailers with house brands… could offer the same thing to their charity partners. Facial tissue boxes represent a lot of real estate. This one’s 8.75 inches x 4.75 inches by 3.75 inches tall. You couldn’t as easily do space available ads on a soup can or other food item which has a lot of labeling requirements facial tissue doesn’t.

For that matter, Walmart could certainly take the co-branding a little further. They could put the faces of the kids from The Missing Children’s Network board on the box's bottom panel. In the United States, cartons of milk have featured such images for years. And, if my experience is common, in most cases a box of facial tissues has a longer life than does a carton of milk.

The box itself was decorated in a kind of red, black and yellow tartan pattern. But it could just as easily be some version of The Missing Children’s Network logo or its colors.

Walmart could work with existing charity partners or it could hold a promotion and take nominations of other worthy charities to feature on package. Considering Walmart’s volume, I’d bet that six months of messaging on the back of boxes of facial tissue would be seen by more people than an ad that ran for six months in Time Magazine (in a space that’s about 3/4 of a full page ad in Time).

For that matter plenty of name-brand manufacturers could do the same thing that Walmart’s done here, especially for non-food items. Xerox could do it with a ream of copy paper. Reynolds Wrap could do it on its boxes of aluminum foil. Procter and Gamble could do it with Tide, etc.

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