Skip to main content

Nature Valley Puts You In the National Parks

The thing you never understand about the Grand Canyon, until you actually go there, is that no photo does it justice. It’s so deep and so wide that the limited field of view provided by still or video cameras comes up seriously wanting. And no photo, by itself, is immersive enough either.

Now Nature Valley granola bars, a General Mills brand, is trying to do justice to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Great Smokey National Parks by letting you experience them as a virtual hiker.

Nature Valley and its agency McCann Erickson sent camera crews to capture 100 or so trail miles in each park using much the same technology that Google does for its famed street views on Google Maps, only all the equipment was mounted on people, not vehicles.

In February 2012 Nature Valley will unveil the first stage online. And you and I can follow along at a real-time walking pace. Writes Joe Berkowitz on, “the resulting concept…is a model for how marketers can make a useful contribution to a cause without over-branding it.”

I disagree with Berkowitz’s conclusions about over-branding causes. The only cause that comes close to being over-branded is breast cancer, and I'd argue long and hard that even the pink ribbon isn't over-branded either. As things stand, over-branding U.S. National Parks is simply impossible. Despite the current governmental budget woes, no one believes buffalo in Yellowstone will soon be sporting signs on their humps saying “This Vista Made Possible by Nature Valley.”

And having been there I can tell you that the only corporate logos you’re likely to see in the Grand Canyon itself are on backpacks or water bottles.

For the most part I’m with Dan Pallotta when he says that if we believe that marketing works, why do we hamstrung nonprofit causes by passive-aggressively insisting that they not spend the money necessary to do it right?

Pallotta’s example is that if the tobacco companies are spending $500 million a year on advertising and marketing, why do we howl when the American Cancer Society spends $1 million in combating those messages?

Nature Valley is a long-time supporter of the National Parks in the United States. Right now, in fact, for every UPC you enter from a box of Nature Valley, General Mills is donating $1 to the National Parks Conservation Association up to a maximum of $100,000.

I applaud Nature Valley for making these… what to call them?… ‘trail-umentaries,’ ‘docu-hikes.’ It’s a valuable service. Whatever their name, I plan to check them out next year.

But having experienced both Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon (although, regrettably, not the Smoky Mountains) up close and personal, my expectations will be very high.


Popular posts from this blog

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Stock Index Dramatically Outperforms Other Indices

There are stock indexes galore; the Dow, S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, the Wilshire 5000, the FTSE, and hundreds more. But how would an index of the stocks of companies that do a meaningful amount of cause marketing perform compared to those well-known indexes? Pretty well, as it turns out.

I first floated the idea of a stock index that would track companies that do cause marketing back in 2009. I tried to figure out Yahoo Pipes so that I could put the feed right into this blog. But alas sometimes the geek gene does fall pretty far from the tree.

So I talked to programmers to see if I could find someone who could do the same, but it was always more than I was willing to pay.

Finally, last week I hired a MBA student to do it all in a spreadsheet, and what do you know but that over the last 15 years a basket of 25 cause marketing stocks dramatically outperforms the Dow, the S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, and the Wilshire 5000.

The index, which I call the Alden Keene Cause Market…

Cell Phone Fundraising

There you are walking down Lake Shore Drive past the rising Chicago Spire building eating a Chicago Red Hot, when you’re struck by a billboard with a message from, say, MercyCorps, asking for help providing relief to the cyclone-battered people in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy delta. But the sign doesn’t feature a website URL, a toll-free telephone number or even an address to send a check. Instead the sign tells you to text the word ‘Give’ to a number using your cell phone and a $5 donation will be made.

To the Japanese or Europeans that scenario probably sounds not so much futuristic as so 2006.

But it’s new in the United States, made possible by lower fees from the cell phone carriers. If analysts are correct, cell phone fundraising may be a prominent future fundraising channel for charities with a clear mission, strong brand recognition and the ability to effectively get their message to their audience.

What’s the potential upside of this mobile phone fundraising in the United States?

“$100 mil…