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BRAND AID: HANDS ACROSS A NEW CAMPAIGN : Coupons Give Discounts and Aid U.S. Hungry Too

February 01, 1987|DENNIS McDOUGAL

Last year Hollywood entrepreneur Ken Kragen teamed up with Coca-Cola to sell his Hands Across America concept to the nation.

When the 15-minute hand-holding sing-along had climaxed last May 25, Coke--for its $4-million-plus contribution--had received more than six billion media "impressions," said Kragen, including Coke-Hands connections stamped on 63 million Safeway shopping bags and 300 million McDonald's tray place mats.

Now, in a new twist on the marketing of Hands Across America, Kragen's USA for Africa Foundation is teaming up with CPC International Inc., the manufacturer of Best Foods mayonnaise and Skippy Peanut Butter.

The campaign, unveiled last week, is called "Brands Across America."

For the privilege of using the Hands connection in its promotion, CPC will make a donation of as much as $100,000 to the foundation for its hunger projects in the U.S.

"It's called 'cause-related marketing,' and to my knowledge, Brands Across America is our first major program," said Linda McBride, brand promotion planner with the Englewood Cliffs, N.J., company.

A radio campaign, broadcast over several Los Angeles rock stations, promises consumers discount coupons and up to $10 in rebates on several products sold by CPC. Ads began running nationally last week in newspapers serving more than 47 million readers, McBride said. In addition to Best Foods and Skippy's, the company sells Mazola Corn Oil, Thomas English muffins, Niagara spray starch, Golden Griddle syrup and other products.

A spokesman for Valassis Inserts, an ad distribution company, said that the Brands Across America insert was intended to reach 2.7 million readers of more than a dozen Southland newspapers, including The Times.

The ad line reads: "Send in for your refund and $1 will be donated to Hands Across America in your name."

McBride said the Brands Across America concept was the brainchild of a consumer promotion agency: "We decided to participate because of the good will generated from Hands Across America and 'top-of-mind awareness,' " said McBride.

"Top-of-mind awareness" is a simple marketing principle, she explained: associate one advertising concept with another. In the case of CPC foods, the equation would read: Hands Across America equals "ending hunger" equals food equals CPC brand products.

"There are two parts to the campaign," McBride said. "First of all, there are coupons on actual brands. We also have a refund of up to $10. That offer will expire on July 31, 1987."

Consumers who collect the coupons, proofs-of-purchase and receipts that are necessary to send in for their $10 rebate will receive the added incentive of helping a starving American.

" Up to a total of $100,000 from CPC will go to Hands Across America. That is very clearly present in the (advertisement) and the coupons. In other words if we get $100,001 in refund redemptions, we will pay $100,000."

If CPC gets less than $100,000 in redemptions, Hands Across America gets a smaller contribution.

Cause-related marketing is not new.

Craig Smith, editor of the authoritative Corporate Philanthropy Report newsletter, told Calendar that for more than a decade, major companies have been committing larger and larger shares of their ad budgets to nonprofit organizations. The corporations ask only that they be able to associate their products with the organization's cause.

According to Smith, the best cause-related marketing associates a product with sincerity, honesty and good feeling.

"I trace it back almost 20 years to when the tobacco companies were banned from advertising on television," he said.

Tobacco products began to sponsor sporting events, contribute to health-related causes and generally attempted to associate with positive life-affirming images, Smith said.

Other companies began to follow suit:

American Express, generally is credited with coining the "cause-related marketing" phrase, connected with last year's Liberty Weekend festivities by promising to give a donation to restore the Statue of Liberty every time its product or service was used. The company eventually contributed more than $1.7 million.

Morton Thiokol, manufacturer of Fantastik spray cleaner and Spray 'N Wash, promised to donate 20 cents to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children each time a coupon was redeemed for one of its products. That 1985 campaign raised more than $700,000.

Scott Paper Co. introduced a new line of products last year with the promise that the company would donate 5 cents to charity every time a product was purchased. By purchasing Scott's Helping Hands paper towels, trash bags, toilet paper and other products, consumers were given an opportunity to raise money for the March of Dimes, Easter Seal Society and four other national charities.

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