Sunday, January 4, 2009

Doing Good...(too) Quietly

This Christmas, I scored surprise shopping success at Kenneth Cole, where everything in the store was at least 36% off. After buying gifts for others as well as myself, I learned of a new Do-Good opportunity that the retail community was promoting. This one is brought to consumers by Network for Good. Kenneth Cole suggested that consumers should “make your presents felt” (pun intended). Already a supporter of Gap’s (Product) RED and of eBay’s, I was surprised that I had not heard of this promotion.

Founded by AOL, Cisco and Yahoo in 2001, Network for Good today is a complete how-to site teaching non-profits how to thrive in a Web 2.0 world. The site offers articles and tools for developing marketing campaigns, training volunteers and employees, creating and managing donor databases, and more. The articles are well written and relevant. The founder and CEO, Bill Strathmann, was featured by Fast Company this year as one of 45 Social Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing The World.

My purchase entitled me to a $10 contribution by Kenneth Cole to the charity of my choice from the over 1 million charities supported by Network for Good. All I had to do was go online and use the individual access code on the hand out. What’s more, I was also eligible to win up to $10,000 for the charity of my choice if I filled out the 3-line entry form (name, address, email address) while in the store and gave it back to the sales associate. No purchase was necessary for entry into this contest. Turns out, I was also able to enter online.

I saw no in-store collateral promoting this great promotion. In fact, the store associates didn’t mention it until they placed the collateral in my shopping bag. It’s possible this understated approach is right on-brand for KC – I don’t really shop there regularly and don’t pretend to know what the brand stands for. Nonetheless, this was an opportunity to associate the Kenneth Cole brand with the worthy causes supported by Network for Good, and with the nobility of giving to charity.

So, while a great idea with lots of potential, seems to me that Kenneth Cole did not commit fully to the initiative, and did not benefit as much as they could have.

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