To grow and evolve, companies and nonprofits must be willing to take risks. Some risks yield smash successes; others reveal problems no one saw coming.
Knowledge gained in the school of hard knocks has helped shape many successful CM programs. For example:
Back in 1999, General Mills’ Yoplait brand ran an under-the-lid donation program that did not specify there was a $100,000 cap on donations. Georgia’s attorney general investigated and argued the company owed millions. General Mills avoided court by agreeing to make a five figure contribution to the National Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The company changed the wording on the Yoplait container in 2000 and has successfully run Save Lids to Save Lives ever since with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
When it launched the Earthkeepers line in June 2008, Timberland offered to plant a real tree for each virtual tree consumers planted on Facebook. The company expected the program to build gradually to a million trees by 2010, but was overwhelmed when the initiative went viral. (See Margaret Morey-Reuner’s posting from those frenzied days for a great example of authenticity and openness in the face of a communications crisis.)
Now that Timberland has figured out how to better manage massive forestation projects and social media campaigns, it has made a 5 million tree commitment and recently launched a new virtual forest program.
If these examples sound familiar, it could be that you’ve heard them at past CMF conferences. I urge our speakers to share what’s worked and what has not because the greatest learning is often contained in aspects of programs that didn’t go as planned.
Hope to see you at CMF2011 on June 1 & 2 as we share the stories behind the stories of cause marketing today.
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