Cause Marketing About Nothing

In the TV show Seinfeld Jerry and George pitch NBC a sitcom they said was about nothing. Now the Vermont Foodbank is trying to get patrons at Vermont Hannaford Supermarkets to do Nothing about hunger in the state.

The campaign by NAIL, an ad agency in Providence, Rhode Island, is called “Nothing Can End Hunger.” NAIL has already sold the effort to food banks in Ohio and 'Nothing' is due to launch today, Thursday, July 14, 2011 in benefit of the Vermont Foodbank. The video at the left is from the Ohio portion of the campaign’s website,

Here’s how it works, Hannaford stores are selling empty but labeled cans of ‘Nothing’ for $2.99. The cans are slotted, apparently so that one could take it out to solicit donations for the Vermont Foodbank , although the press release was vague on this point. But by itself the $2.99 derived from the sale of the cans of Nothing helps provide 18 meals.

In effect, it's a dressed up paper icon campaign.
It’s all wonderfully clever and the exact kind of campaign that will win awards. The ad, in particular, is genius. I feel sorry for the poor schlubs…who don’t look like actors to me… that ended up in the ad.

The campaign will be successful if they run a ton of ads like this on TV. But let's be honest, this ad won't be seen on TV very often at all. Vermont Foodbank won't have the budget for it. The press release says there's only 14,000 cans of Nothing available. That's $42,000 before expenses. They may be able to pay for a few TV ads and get a handful more freebies from TV stations. Some Vermonters will see the spots online.

But the upshot is that much depends on what the creative looks like inside the Hannaford stores. Word-play like this works great in a 30-second ad. But it takes that full 30 seconds. How does NAIL translate that to an in-store point of purchase display? Will people standing at the checkstand process the word-play at the point of purchase?

I hope someone will send me a sample of what the POP looks like.

Tip of the hat to Kelly S. for pointing out this campaign to me.

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