Thu, August 16 2007

Does chewing gum save the children?

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Cause-related marketing •

Today I received the following note from a sharp-eyed reader of this blog:

Hello Katya,
I attended one of your online fundraising seminars in Washington, D.C. last fall and I’ve been following your blog since then.  Today as I was exiting the metro in DC and heading off to work, I noticed people passing out samples of Trident gum. This type of marketing is not unusual here. But what I did find unusual was that the people were wearing Save the Children t-shirts while passing out samples of Trident Splash! gum.  What do you think is the marketing plan here? What’s in it for Save the Children? Name recognition?
Tara Karasch

Hmmm… good question.  What was the connection, and why wasn’t it made clearer at the point of distribution?

I googled “Trident” and “Save the Children” and found this microsite.  It says:

Trident® sugarless gum and Save the Children® U.S. Programs have teamed together to bring a smile to children’s faces by supporting literacy and nutritional initiatives that benefit children in need in rural areas throughout our country. Join us as we celebrate Trident supporting Save the Children® U.S. Programs. Trident has generously donated to this worthy cause. Pass along a smile!

On the site, you can donate to Save the Children, download wallpaper, send ecards, see pictures of yourself taken by the gum-distributing smile patrol, etc.

I asked Tara if she got any of that.  Here’s what she said:

Hello Katya,
This makes sense after reading the press release, but not before. I have to admit that I didn’t read the entirety of their t-shirts, but what I did notice was “Save the Children” boldly printed on yellow t-shirts. How much detail do we really take in while zooming past on our commute? It wasn’t a very successful marketing effort for me. Perhaps if the gum samples actually had the program logo on them (as the packs of gum on the website did), it all would have clicked and made sense for me. However, my experience was walking away wondering why Save the Children was passing out gum. They did make me think though.

The campaign is certainly interesting but there are some missing links here, I think.

1. Missing link #1: The communication to the consumer.  They need to communicate the program to commuters, quickly.  I don’t think most people will bother to think the way Tara and I did.

2. Missing link #2: The connection between gum and charity.  What is the link between literacy, nutrition and gum?  It feels like a stretch.  The program is meant to show that when you chew the gum, Trident helps a charity, so kids smile and you smile and feel good - at least I think so - but that’s a lot to explain.  If Trident were supporting the charity Operation Smile, I would completely get it.  That would have an intuitive connection that is lacking here.

3. Missing link #3: The connection between action and result.  The site’s actions - wallpaper, ecards, etc. don’t exactly feel like ways to improve literacy, nor does buying gum.  I think they need to connect the actions of the consumer to the results for children more clearly.

Anyone else gotten a pack?  Had a different experience?  Like the new gum?  (I like the strawberry lime myself.)  Do tell!


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