Kind. Compassionate. Caring.
Those might not be the three words most top-of-mind when you think about marketing. But in a span of less than 24 hours recently, I received three very distinct – yet similar – examples of companies using marketing to express their opinions on the current state of the world and how they (and we) can be influential in making it better. The first example was an email from a local Wisconsin company with a very unexpected message.
As a cook and a baker, Penzey’s Spice is one of my favorite retailers. I’ll almost always open their emails to see if there’s a new spice or recipe to try. Their most recent communication was shockingly different – in a good way. They’ve developed a new spice. And they’ve also developed a position to accompany it. Their email was an open solicitation to customers to help locate like-minded organizations in which to advertise “Justice”. Their slogan: “Season Liberally”. Their goal: To “embrace human kindness, decency and caring”. It was a very direct email voicing not only their political slant but also the important role customers have by choosing to support companies with like-minded beliefs and values.
A few hours later, I received the May eNewsletter from Yellowstone National Park. Not nearly as prominent as Penzeys (positioned way below “Honk! If a Bear Comes Near Your Car”) was a new feature – “The Kindness Korner”. They’re devoting a section of their newsletter to “spotlight organizations and people doing good things in the world.”. This month’s focus was the Foundation for Better Life – passiton.com. An inspirational, motivational site filled with PSAs highlighting love, respect and everything beautiful the world has to offer. I dare you to watch a video there without tearing up.
Lastly, I received a package from Zingerman’s – a mail order food company out of Ann Arbor, MI. Along with a jar of chili paste was an insert describing where it originated and how best to use it. One of the paragraphs noted how, until recently, it was easy to get exceptional products like this from our neighbors in Mexico followed by a thinly veiled “Not sure what changed.” It went on to express the importance of maintaining a healthy, interconnected global economy.
So, what is this seemingly new-found desire for companies to express themselves in a more humanistic, caring way? Unlike traditional cause marketing, none of these organizations were requesting monetary donations. Is it a marketing trend? Are they simply hoping to gain support of like-minded individuals? Or is it a political message? Whatever it is – it’s fascinating.
Being outspoken and supportive of a positive universe, though, is old hat for someone whom I consider to be a legendary, iconic, real-life brand. There’s no better way to end a blog like this than with the words Ellen DeGeneres has become universally identified with and uses to sign off every show “Be kind to one another”.
And…pass it on.