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Traditional charities rely on donors to shore up their overhead and support their causes. But there’s another model—and it can be incredibly relevant for today’s brand marketers.
Troy Young, President of SAY Media (formerly Video Egg), hosted an AdWeek panel focused on how companies can boost their brand while doing a world of good. Brands such as Starbucks, The Gap and Nike have a huge platform, but often face challenges when trying to establish more meaningful relationships with consumers. Meanwhile, advocates of global health and other causes often lack the funding and platforms they need to raise awareness and make people care.
Brand marketer… meet global health advocate.
Christy Turlington Burns, maternal health advocate and Director of “No Women, No Cry,” said while she was lucky to travel the world when she was a model, she had a difficult time getting people to care about issues back home. “It’s so hard to tell these stories and then find a way to connect here [at home],” she said.
But Susan Smith Ellis, CEO of RED, thinks she’s cracked the code to making people care. While AIDs in Africa is still a tragic cause that kills nearly 4000 people a day, RED—which has earned more than 152 million dollars to date—focuses on the positive in order to engage American consumers.
“There is enormous progress being made,” Smith Ellis said, and it helps to show advocates the impact they make. They go from buying a product to feeling better knowing that a portion of their money will go a good cause. Eventually, they really start to care about that cause.
Turlington Burns’ own complications in the delivery room inspired her to focus on global maternal health. While her daughter’s delivery was “seamlessly handled” in a New York City hospital, she realized that women in other countries didn’t have that luxury. Her film, “No Women, No Cry” is self-funded, but she is considering corporate partnerships in the future.
This form of conscious consumption has been enabled by a much smaller world—with more connections being made between people globally.
“It allows people to participate… that sense of partnering with products and companies [that have] those products that you like,” Turlington Burns said. “You care about the same things.”
And it’s not all about big bucks. Despite not having a media budget, the RED website has received more than 10 billion impressions. “We do experiential things because we don’t have the budgets,” Smith Ellis said.
So how do you activate consumers once they’ve bought into the concept?
Turlington Burns said you give them options: show them how to write their congressperson to change government policy, give then a way to purchase supplies or ensure better training of midwives and other medical professionals.
Smith Ellis said it was even simpler. “Get people to buy the product,” she said. “That’s how the money flows.”
Microsoft Advertising has leveraged this model before. Later this week, you’ll hear from Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes. For more information, you can check out a case study about a recent campaign he did with Microsoft Advertising.
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