colbert challenge

A Cause Marketing Coup

If you’re a Target shopper and/or a Ben & Jerry’s (B&J) fan you probably know about Volunteer Match‘s (VM) cause marketing coup.

Back in June,  B&J launched its Berry Voluntary and Brownie Chew Gooder flavors at Target (a long-time VM supporter), aiming to encourage local volunteering via VM’s Scoop it Forward program.    After registering for a volunteer activity and forwarding the opportunity to five friends, all six people received a coupon for a free pint of one of the new flavors, redeemable at Target.

Reinvigorated to Reach New Audiences

That’s a five-start cause marketing partnership but focus on even the most engaging promotion flags after a while.  VolunteerMatch was determined to use this opportunity to engage additional audiences to build awareness of volunteering.

They devised a brilliant, funny strategy to do so — challenging Stephen Colbert (who has his own B&J flavor, Americone) to an ice cream taste off.

And what better (potentially viral) way to launch the challenge than this video: “I challenge Stephen Colbert – man to man and spoon to spoon – to see who has the ice cream flavor that people prefer,” joked Greg Baldwin, president of VolunteerMatch. “Anywhere. Anytime. Any tongue.”

After trying each flavor, Baldwin invites tasters to vote for the flavor they prefer, which is a great way to further engage those who hear about the taste off.

But the creative team at VM didn’t stop there. They generated major attention by storming the line of folks waiting to see the Colbert Report taping last week.  VM distributed sample sizes of Berry Voluntary, proffered a written challenge to Colbert and the show’s producers, and launched the video big-time!

With Great Immediate Results

The long-term results will be how increased awareness from the taste-off generates more VolunteerMatch volunteers. But that won’t be clear for awhile.

What’s immediately apparent is that the spectacularly original and marvelously engaging approach has gotten big time attention. The story launched on Monday and was immediately covered by Fast Company and the Huffington Post, among other channels. That means that VM has already reached new audiences.

Next step, getting Baldwin on the Colbert Report! I’ll keep you posted on progress.

Powerful Inspiration — Use It to Spice Up Your Campaigns

There’s lots of inspiration here. My challenge to you is this: How can you take a great existing marketing or fundraising campaign, spice it up and roll it out to engage new audiences (or re-engage those who might have seen it the first time round)?

P.S. Vote now to build your messaging skills by selecting the best in class in the 2010 Taggies – the third annual Nonprofit Tagline Award Competition. It’s a fun project that will help nonprofits in all fields discover what works, and why.

Nancy Schwartz on September 21, 2010 in Cause Marketing, Unique Approaches | 0 comments
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