Making a mockery of movement marketing

Today, on Facebook, I saw at least 5 pink ribbon videos, articles, symbols, etc. And then I saw one for rescued animals, and then one for substance abuse recovery. Don’t get me wrong, these are all GREAT causes. But I submit to you that social media has let out the air out of movement marketing.

What was once an actionable and noble thing has now become an overplayed and misrepresented form of brand association. And it’s not just big companies that are doing it (though they are probably the worst perpetrators). It’s us as consumers, as friends and as neighbors.

Let’s have less talk and more walk.

Less on awareness and more on action.

Less 30 second Facebook posting and more 30 minutes volunteering.

Social media has made it too easy for us to feel good about ourselves that we’ve forgotten the point behind movement marketing – and that’s to move people.

Will 50,000 virtual thumbs up change someone’s life? Maybe. Would just 50 people giving up an hour to help their community? Abso-freakin-lutely.

Put another way, how much movement are you really doing by posting that FB badge on your profile saying you believe animal abuse is wrong? I mean – I should hope we all feel that way. We need to do more than just give ourselves a pat on the back.

1) Bring people together to become change agents. And a FB page does not mean you’ve brought people together. I work for a giant, complicated organization and one of the things that often frustrates people is how difficult it can be to move the needle. That said, it’s also amazing to see what can be accomplished when the masses are aligned. I’d argue there isn’t a problem we couldn’t solve by working in concert. So don’t just hand out ribbons – bring people together.

2) Don’t make it about YOU. The blatant co-branding with the pink ribbons has become out of control. The pink ribbon isn’t about your fried chicken. It isn’t about your brand. (See my earlier blog about why your brand should come second) The movement is about the people and the cause, not your brand.

3) Give it away. Nothing irks me more than seeing “$.50 cents of every purchase will be donated to blah blah blah”. To me that’s nothing more than the same discount or coupon you’d give to the customer if there wasn’t a charity. That doesn’t move me and I doubt it moves you. Instead of marking it down – GIVE IT AWAY. You don’t have to do it for a month, or even a week. Denny’s gave away breakfast for a day costing them about $14 million in sales but bringing in about $50 million worth of free advertising (source).

Hopefully I’ve successfully turned my rant into something a bit more productive. My fear in all this co-branding is that we’re doing more harm than good, not only for big brands but for the movements themselves. People feel like their part of the movement when in reality they’re just as disengaged as they were before – except with a page on their FB profile. HOW TERRIBLY UNINSPIRING!


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  1. #1 by Sam Kale on October 25, 2010 - 10:53 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I think there’s a clear difference between what’s right, what’s easy, and what’s profitable. As individuals, I think too often we choose what’s easy (joining a Facebook group) over what’s right (giving money, time, or attention). We’re all guilty of this, no matter how hard we try not to be.

    One good example I’ve seen of tying social media to cause marketing that actually gets something done came just a week or so ago. Mike Monteiro (@mike_ftw … NOTE that his twitter page is NSFW) got into a discussion about breast cancer cause marketing with a few people on twitter. Instead of getting wrapped up in the minutiae, Monteiro decided to drive some positive behavior and actually get something done.

    You can read more about it here. Very briefly, Mike said that for each time someone favorited a particular tweet, he’d donate $0.10 to breast cancer research. He then challenged people to match his donation. In the space of a few hours there were 20 people matching Mike’s 10cents/favorite pledge, people donating lump sums, and companies matching total donation.

    By the end of the *work day* they had $10K pledged.

    Contrast that with the NFL Breast Cancer Awareness month activities, many of which center around passing out ribbons. The pink shoes are cool and the total contribution is much larger than Monteiro’s, but from a $/hr perspective, Monteiro got a lot more done than the NFL will all month.

  2. #2 by fartheroutnearerto on December 9, 2010 - 7:59 pm

    “Abso-freakin-lutely”! If that wasn’t an actual word before, it is now. And I love the “It’s not about your fried chicken”! If that was in a movie, everybody would be quoting it right now. Thanks for giving yourself away! Great article.

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