Editor’s Note: This post is the eighth in a new series highlighting cause marketing campaigns from around the world called ‘Global Voices’ and brought to you by Your Public Interest Registry. We hope our team of international contributors will shed insights into cause marketing in their home country and inspire you to expand your own purpose-driven horizons.
About 10 years ago Australia went ‘Pink’ mad. Mount Franklin (a popular bottled water brand) launched a fundraising campaign in support of National Breast Cancer Foundation, complete with pink lid. Within 18 months, Australians were faced with a tsunami of pink products across almost every category imaginable.
We can be a bit of a cynical bunch in Australia and we can spot opportunism a mile away. It would be reasonable to guess that many of those ‘pink’ cause campaigns didn’t deliver what their marketing teams had hoped for. So the pink noise died down; and with it, the initial stirrings of the Cause Marketing movement in Australia.
Cause Marketing Resurfaces in Australia in a New Way
Fast forward to 2014 and the cause-related marketing scene in Australia is resurfacing. My own experience talking to many senior marketers on the subject is this: at an individual level, there is genuine excitement about the opportunity to do well by doing good, particularly when they see global examples of brands doing just this. Slowly, more brands are engaging in cause partnerships and campaigns that appear to be more authentic and less opportunistic.
The Thankyou Movement
Against this backdrop, a social enterprise called Thankyou has established a range of products from bottled water to muesli to hand soap with the goal of empowering Australians to make a difference in the world through a simple choice within their everyday life. Once all the costs of bringing their products to market are taken care of, every cent left funds life-changing projects in the developing world through partnerships with project-specific nonprofit organizations such as World Vision and the World Food Programme.
The Thankyou Movement may not be unique in their purpose or even in the products they market. What I found interesting about this organisation was how they successfully used social media to mount a massive breakthrough in distribution. Here’s their impressive story.
Creating a Consumer Movement to Open Retail Doors
Since their launch in 2008, Thankyou Water had been unsuccessful in getting distribution through the big two supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths. Their distribution was limited to a convenience retailer, Australia Post outlets and to a network of independent supermarkets. Without the support of Coles and Woolworths, the opportunity for the organisation to fulfill its purpose was, at best, limited.
In 2013, the organisation launched a social media campaign to pressure Coles into stocking their range. They released a video calling on their supporters to upload videos and post comments to the Coles and Woolworths Facebook pages to show they’d buy the products if stocked. The Thankyou team already had a meeting scheduled with Coles, but this time wanted to bring more than just a product to their presentation, they wanted to bring them an opportunity.
Supporters Take To Social Media To Create Opportunity
Social media went mad. The Coles and Woolworths Facebook pages were inundated with messages and videos in the 2 weeks leading up to the team’s meeting with Coles. To support the social media campaign, the Thankyou team employed stunt tactics, with helicopters flying 30x30m banners over both retailers’ head offices. An appearance on one of the nation’s main television network morning shows rounded the campaign out.
The campaign succeeded. In unleashing a torrent of public lobbying on Australia’s grocery giants, Thankyou got the attention of corporate management teams. Coles moved their scheduled meeting forward by a week and agreed to stock not only their water products, but their newly launched muesli and body care range. A meeting with Woolworths ensued within the month and they too agreed to distribute the product range. Each of the retailers took 14 products from the range.
For the two supermarket giants, who are often portrayed negatively in the media due to their duopoly status, responding positively to the Thankyou campaign and product range gave them an opportunity to bathe in the halo effect of their own role as partners in making a positive difference in the world.
Distribution Breakthrough Pays Huge Social and Financial Dividends
With the distribution breakthrough, the Thankyou team has been able to take their efforts to a whole new level. At the end of 2012, they had helped 15,500 people gain access to safe water. By the end of 2013, just one year later, they had assisted 67,896 people with safe water. They have also provided 60,388 people with health and hygiene training, and raised enough funds to provide 1,209 people with a year’s worth of short-term food aid.
Thankyou Says ‘Thank You’
You can view their ‘Thank You” video below, in which the organisation recognizes the amazing impact of their supporters and everyone else involved in their success thus far.
Formula for success: Social media + PR + Story telling (and perfect timing)
I believe this campaign is a great example of just how powerful social media and PR can be when used well, especially when combined with storytelling. In a campaign story that cast the players as David and Goliath archetypes, the brand’s consumers and supporters were inspired to play their part with enthusiasm. In this story, the opportunity was for the Goliath supermarkets to step into the role of eager sidekick to the hero, the Thankyou organisation.
It was a role they stepped into without hesitation, providing a win-win outcome for all. The other key factor was timing. Fifteen months of planning went into the campaign, which crucially launched 2 weeks ahead of their scheduled meeting with the Coles category buyer.