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Five Pieces of Unsolicited Cause Marketing Advice to Actor Hugh Jackman

Versatile action star and Broadway song-and-dance man Hugh Jackman has started a new ‘all-benefits company’ that he explicitly says was inspired by Newman’s Own.

Here’s five bits of entirely unsolicited cause marketing advice to Mr. Jackman from yours truly.

1. Put Your Face On the Packaging. I don’t know what Laughing Man means and probably most of your potential customers don’t either. Speaking of Newman and yourself, you told Entertainment Weekly magazine, “This is a really great to, uh, exploit your popularity, basically. It is shameless exploitation.” Except the name Laughing Man is hardly shameless exploitation of your celebrity. To really be shameless and to get the most bang for your buck, you need to put the face of one of World’s Most Beautiful People on the packaging of Laughing Man.

2. Turn Your Face Into a Caricature. Brands including Betty Crocker, Uncle Ben, KFC, the Quaker Oats Quaker dude and even Paul Newman are all represented by illustrated characters. Betty Crocker looks different now than she did even 10 years ago. As an illustrated character Paul Newman could wear a chef’s toque or a beret or an apron. Making yourself into a caricature allows you to distance yourself a little from the brand, remain ageless. It means you don’t have to do new photo shoots every time you roll out a new product, just a new drawing. And it allows your brand to survive even after your death.

3. By All Means Continue to Tell Stories on The Packaging. Right now the packaging for Laughing Man tells the stories of the farmers and small businesspeople that the company works with and for. By adding your cartoon visage, I’m not suggesting that you get rid of those important back stories. You can and should keep them. I once did an informal study of the packaging for premium food brands and found that they had at least 20 percent more words on them than non-premium brands. Remember what the direct mail guys say: “tell more, sell more.”

4. Find Your Complementary Partner. Newman’s longtime partner was novelist and playwright A.E Hotchner. Read either of their the two books they wrote together to get a sense about their working dynamics on Newman’s Own. But it seems clear that Hotchner and Newman complemented each other greatly. You can’t do this all on your own. You need a partner who can do things you can’t or won’t do.

5. Be Prepared to Do this ‘til You Die. In his later years Newman joked that he was better known for Newman’s Own than for his acting career. I don’t know if that’s true or not. But it is true that Newman spent much more time in his role as an indefatigable social entrepreneur and philanthropist than he did in other role except as a husband and father. He was still personally approving and distributing the company’s profits until just two years before his death.

Finally, and this is a bonus suggestion; figure out how to sell goods manufactured in Africa under your brand. Africa, especially, has a very small manufacturing base. It’s a great benefit to Africa’s small farmers to buy their chocolate and tea and coffee beans. But you could bring still more money and benefit to Africa if you could figure out how to have those and other items manufactured there.

Best wishes! I genuinely hope you do at least as well as Newman’s Own, which has donated more than $300 million to charity since 1982.

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