For a second year in a row Office Depot is successfully using cause marketing to increase its profile. It would appear that the efforts are paying off as sales from this year’s campaign are already out-performing last year’s effort.
Office Depot has been a business leader through its anti-bullying effort. Last year Office depot’s We Supply Kindness’ campaign partnered with Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way Foundation and provided a one million dollar donation. This year Office Deport continued its anti-bullying campaign and partnered with the boy band One Direction offering another million dollars for anti-bullying education in schools.
According to David Hessekiel, President of Cause Marketing Forum, here are three lessons to be learned from Office Depot:
Lesson #1: Link Core Products
Last year’s effort showcased limited-edition, specially branded products such as sticky notes and Sharpies. This year’s campaign goes back to basics with over 10 items that are primarily back-to-school essentials such as notebooks and page dividers (each band member has their own branded line resulting in over 50 SKUs total). According to Skolfield, product sales are “much better” than last year’s cause products and more importantly, customers are increasingly adding other items to their carts when purchasing One Direction-branded products.
Lesson #2: Go Where Your Customers Live
Engaging with a socially-prolific and well-followed celebrity entity turned out to be a smart move for Office Depot in 2012. Venturing back into the social media universe where students orbit around celebrities was a must-do for Office Depot again this year.
“The social media component has been enormous,” Skolfield shares. According to Mashable, One Direction’s combined 75 million twitter followers helped an Office Depot-promoted tweet to generate more site referrals during the campaign than the amount of referrals Office Depot saw in the entirety of 2012. Additionally, Office Depot Facebook fans have grown more than 67,000 – a 19% increase.
Lesson #3: Celebrity is to Cause as Teen is to Mom
The cause+celebrity combo works well in a back-to-school market where teens and tweens are focused on cool products and mom’s paying the bill. Controlling the narrative by focusing on an empowering, positive message reinforced by authentic celebrity spokespeople is a win-win for teens and parents and aligns well with the Office Depot’s desired brand positioning.
For other examples of back-to-school cause marketing go to 2013 Cause Marketing Campaigns on Pinterest.
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