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Secret Decoder Ring Cause Marketing

There’s some swell cause marketing messaging on many packaged goods products these days, but after the messaging gets in the home, then what?

This thought was promoted by a recent study from MeadWestvaco, which found that after people get a product home, they are less satisfied with the packaging than when they pulled it off the grocer’s shelf.

Think about it, products like a can of soup probably get eaten in one fell swoop, while a box of cereal may last for weeks, and a tin of nutmeg might stay in the home for years.

In other words a cause marketing message could be in the pantry for days, months, or years.

Why wouldn’t the cause and the sponsor want to continue to interact with a consumer whose loyalty is proven?

Naturally you should put the pertinent URLs on the packaging. That’s an obvious first step.

Loyalty programs like My Coke Rewards, which has a cause marketing component, are another answer, and a good one. 

Several prominent cause marketing efforts require you to send in a portion of the packaging to trigger the donation. These campaigns have their fans. I’m on the record for calling them antediluvian, mainly because all that paper has to be moved around so much. But I very much admire the interactivity of label collection campaigns.

Imagine instead packaging that featured QR codes whose destination changes periodically. So one time when you scan it you’re taken to a video site that explains the cause in greater detail, and another time you go to a contest site, and third time you get the chance to sign up for the cause’s newsletter. Scan all three and get a more-valuable-than-usual coupon or extra chances in the contest.

Naturally, you could gamify the whole thing, too.

Our marketing forefathers and mothers had this all worked out. Back in the day companies like Ovaltine kept the lines of communication open with their customer base through media, and secret decoder rings (see at left), which offered the customer great interactivity.


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