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3 Brands Doing Social Good Marketing Right

60% of Millennials say they have felt guilty about making a purchase, and 29% of those who have felt guilty have made a donation to a cause to compensate. But ideally, the purchases they make are already supporting a cause, instantly alleviating their guilt and making them feel better about consumption—as we’ve discussed with Retail Rebels and Hybrid Activism. Millennials believe that corporations and brands have more power to make a difference than almost any other organizations, and thanks in part to their desire to support brands that make social causes a priority it has become expected that companies incorporate social good into their plans. But when it feels like nearly every brand is partnering with a global non-profit, and corporate responsibility has become the norm, sometimes social good marketing becomes white noise. A brand’s authentic connection to the cause they support has become the new standard; and telling the story behind the cause, and the brand’s connection to it, has become vitally important in attracting young consumer’s attention. Lately we’ve noticed some brands’ efforts to support a cause standing out from the crowd thanks to these very reasons. Here are three examples of brands choosing causes that feel authentic, and telling stories for good:


1. Naked Juice Takes on Food Deserts

Naked Juice has become a champion for ending the plague of food deserts, areas in urban and rural communities that have little to no convenient access to healthful, fresh groceries. Partnering with Wholesome Wave, an organization that “fosters strong linkages between local agriculture and under-served communities,” they’re donating 150,000 pounds of fresh produce to some of the 6,500 food deserts in the U.S. But Naked has made educating young people about food deserts a big a part of their campaign. Through a trio of YouTube videos, a three-part series on GOOD, and of course an educational sponsored Buzzfeed post, Naked is spreading the word about food deserts and why the problem is one that their efforts alone can’t fix.

Why it feels authentic: Naked chose a cause that makes sense for their brand. As a juice that touts its own all-natural, fresh ingredients, providing some of those ingredients to those in need is a natural (pardon the pun) fit. The effort feels even better because they are going beyond putting their own product on the shelves.


2. Honda Tries to Save the Drive-Ins

Honda’s newly launched Project Drive-In is out to save “an American icon” that is being threatened by modern technology. There are still 368 drive-in theatres in the U.S. but many still rely on 35mm film projectors, a technology that studios are quickly phasing out. Next year, the drive-ins’ who have not yet converted to digital will not be able to show movies. Honda’s campaign aims to save as many as possible by donating five projectors to five theatres, and letting consumers decide where they will be given. Their micro-site tells the story of the endangered drive-ins through a beautifully shot short movie that plays up the nostalgia of the drive-in, and allows visitors to vote on a drive-in to save. They’re also accepting donations for the cause linking to an IndieGogo fundraising page.

Why it feels authentic: Honda managed to find a cause that might not be about life or death, but means a lot to consumers of multiple generations, and is all about Americana and cars to boot.  


3. Absolut Works to Create the Lowline

In NYC, the Highline park has become a huge success for turning what was once unused, abandoned space into something positive that can be enjoyed by all. Absolut has teamed up with a group of “urban entrepreneurs” to make that same magic happen…underground. The Lowline is New York’s first (potential) underground creative space, and would be located under Delancy Street in an abandoned trolley line. Absolut is helping to fund the project by getting small businesses and individuals involved in the effort. Bars in New York’s lower East Side offering the Absolut Lowline cocktail are donating a dollar from each drink to the underground park. Any bar can participate, and create their own version of the Absolut lowline featuring any kind of Absolut vodka.

Why it feels authentic: Like Honda, Absolut didn’t choose a general, large-scale cause that had nothing to do with their own brand story. Instead, the Lowline is about creativity, community, and most importantly New York City. Absolut has already made celebrating urban centers a big part of their brand, and the Lowline project continues an already established pattern, bringing it in an even more positive direction.