Do you have a favourite example of how marketing can have a positive impact on the world? I never hesitate when I'm asked that question: the Outsurance pointspeople.
Every day, they make a real difference to my life and I'm always happy to see them. More than that, the campaign is completely relevant to the product that Outsurance offers - helping motorists negotiate dangerous intersections helps reduce the risk of accidents, which in turn reduces the risk of claims.
Social good meets brand awareness and affinity: it's a win-win situation.
Never enough money for good causes
There's never enough money for good causes, and, with many NGOs coming under increasing pressure, there's a real need to find other ways to bring in funding. Could more marketers achieve their objectives and do some good at the same time? I believe so, and I've tried to bring through this idea into my own more recent work.
This can be really small-scale: my art is inspired by the Joburg skyline, so I donate a proportion of sales to the Hillbrow-based NGO Home of Hope (the plan is to link the art and the NGO to a brand during a bigger campaign in Women's Month). Or it can take the form of a more formal initiative for an FMCG cosmetics brand such as TLC Facial Wipes.
TLC could have run a typical beauty category campaign. While discussing the brief last year with my then Y&R colleagues, I mentioned in passing that, for months, I'd been using facial wipes as an alternative to washing my face with soap and warm water (they save time, and I'm lazy). This evolved into a campaign idea: what if we could persuade other women to stop pouring fresh water down the drain, and try the same thing?
So the TLC Save Water Challenge was born. Driven via Facebook with support from activation, washroom media and on-pack promotion, participants sign up using the last four digits of their TLC Facial Wipes bar code and encourage friends to do the same. Each participant saves a standardised seven litres per day, with the promotion culminating on 22 March, World Water Day. The saving is virtual, but our hope is that the message will get through with repeated exposure to TLC's 10 000 Facebook fans.
Doing something tangible
Raising awareness on its own is never enough. It was important that TLC not just say it was making a difference, but do something tangible as well. That's why part of the budget for this campaign went towards a R100 000 donation to the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), one of the country's oldest and most credible environmental NGOs.
In addition, a donation from the sale of each pack of TLC Facial Wipes will go towards WESSA, so besides the incentive of the prizes in the Save Water Challenge, there's a feel-good factor too.
The alien-vegetation-clearing project TLC is supporting will kick off in early April and create desperately needed jobs, as well as free up fresh water currently being lost to impenetrable groves of Lantana and American bramble. It'll also give us ongoing content to feed through to the fans we've attracted with the Save Water Challenge.
What we like about linking facial wipes to saving water is that the behaviour we're promoting is relevant to what the product actually does. And when you think that all of the budget allocated to the WESSA project could have gone into traditional communication channels instead, that's a significant difference.
Challenge to other marketers
So, while TLC Facial Wipes is challenging South African women to change just one daily habit, there's an opportunity to challenge other marketers, too. Have a look at the world around you. Is there a relevant and logical way to solve a social problem as well as a brand or sales challenge at the same time?
In a world where the challenges get bigger every day, win-win isn't just a nice to have. For some good causes, it will be the only way to survive.