Holiday village operator Center Parcs will champion wild flower
conservation later this year in what is set to grow into a classic
cause-related marketing campaign. The omens are good because all the
right ingredients are in place.
For a start, Center Parcs has a favourable environmental record, so it
cannot be accused of hypocrisy. Its holiday villages include areas of
carefully preserved woodland, an image it is keen to convey alongside
the sports and swimming pool flumes for which it is arguably better
Quite logically, therefore, the first strand of the campaign is for
Center Parcs to concentrate on safeguarding the wild flowers on its own
Stage two centres on a sales promotion mechanic - pots containing wild
flower seeds will be sold through retailers such as garden centres and
A percentage of each sale will go toward wild flower conservation in the
UK. This will be communicated on the packaging, which will also be used
to market the attractions of Center Parcs. Given that Center Parcs’
target market of young families fits well with the demographic for DIY
and garden centre shoppers, it will offer a genuine awareness-generating
Finally, consumers who buy the product will be able to do their own bit
to save endangered species of flora by planting the seeds in their
gardens. All in all, it’s a cleverly thought through cause-related
marketing campaign, so congratulations to the sales promotion house that
put it together ... except that it wasn’t a sales promotion agency at
The plaudits should go instead to Center Parcs’ PR consultancy,
Countrywide Porter Novelli, which devised the campaign after considering
links with over 50 worthy causes.
’We can take the message to consumers through retail outlets in a way
that doesn’t cheapen the brand integrity,’ says Countrywide creative
director Pauline Kent. ’PR isn’t just about providing the media
relations bolted on to a sales promotion. We’re more likely to be given
a brief to develop something from the beginning.’
PR is an essential part of most CRM campaigns. And because PR
professionals, be they in-house or at consultancies, are used to dealing
with issues related to corporate citizenship, they are probably the
advisers best-placed to help marketers develop CRM initiatives.
’CRM has in the past been closer to sales promotion and separate from
being a good corporate citizen. I think that’s over now. Companies that
want to get into CRM without looking at the wider implications are
crazy; it will backfire on them,’ adds Kent. PR consultancies hot on
CRM, such as Countrywide and Kinross & Render, carry out a social audit
or ’health check’ on clients before suggesting a course of action. In
this way, anomalies are avoided.
Companies with even slightly suspect environmental practices, for
instance, are dissuaded from linking themselves with environmental
charities. If they were to do so, the chances are that an ever-vigilant
and news hungry media would expose them for not being greener than
The upshot of this could be untold damage to a brand and corporate
reputation, with a probable knock-on effect hitting the charity partner
- not at all what CRM should be about. For, at its best, it is a win-win
’Only two years ago it was relatively rare for clients to ask us to make
recommendations on potential CRM activities as part of programme
planning,’ says Kinross & Render chief executive Sara Render. ’Nowadays,
it is rare for clients in the financial services and consumer goods
industries not to include a CRM requirement. It remains unusual for our
clients outside these areas.
’Charities have got very switched on to this, but competition to be the
beneficiary of a CRM initiative is intense and is almost invariably won
by the big, well-established names.’
Render represents organisations from both the corporate and charity
sector which are developing CRM initiatives. It would, she says, be nice
to marry them up, but this is impossible. For CRM to work, there has to
be sound reasons for the partnership.
The relationship should also be sustained. The public, though looking to
business to behave in a socially responsible manner, is suspicious of
companies adopting a short-term, parasitic approach to good causes.
’We advise clients to resist short-term one-offs and develop a more
strategic approach,’ says Chris Genasi, head of the corporate division
at Shandwick-owned Welbeck Golin Harris. ’Companies tend to go for
popular, fluffy causes whereas what they should do is talk to the
government and the charitable community to find out where the real needs
’If you are seen to be delivering something that is genuinely useful,
people will be more accepting of it. The plea I’d make is not to rush
into the toy shop and pick up the brightest baubles.’
The points are well-made and shown to good effect in what could be
called the most successful CRM programme in the UK, Tesco’s Computers
There is no faulting the supermarket giant on either its long-term
commitment or the usefulness of what it is doing. Computers for Schools
was launched in 1992 and has brought pounds 34m worth of computers and
related equipment into schools. PR has been at the heart of the
’It’s a huge PR programme,’ says Tesco department manager for community
affairs, Fiona Archer. ’We do get a lot of national PR, but it works far
better at a local level. It produces lots of stories about local schools
and that’s what we want it do.’
Iceland Frozen Foods is also pursuing a long-term CRM campaign, with the
National Missing Persons Helpline. The campaign launched in April 1997
and will continue for the foreseeable future.
Pictures and details of missing children are carried on the side of milk
containers (Iceland sells 75,000 of these a day through its 770 stores
across the UK). One child has already been reunited with her family as a
direct result of the campaign.
’Our customers expect to see us doing things to support communities and
charities,’ says Iceland PR manager Barbara Crampton. ’And PR is very
important in that regard, it gives us the opportunity to communicate
with our customers.’
The Game Plan, the third in a series of market research studies into CRM
by Research International on behalf of Business in the Community, was
published at the end of last year. It found that low awareness was
reducing the impact of CRM programmes; yet, at the same time, consumers
were eager to hear about them. Clearly, if a programme is to work,
extensive communications support must be built in.
Although most true CRM programmes are based on sales promotion, this
need not be the case. Cadbury’s sponsorship of 31 pantomimes across the
UK, which has raised over pounds 150,000 for Save the Children in three
years, is more indirect.
Even so, Cadbury spokesman Tony Bilsborough is clear that this is
cause-related marketing. ’We are promoting the Cadbury brand through
this sponsorship, and building awareness of individual brands through
the products that are thrown to the audience or given away on stage
throughout each performance,’ he says. ’So it is a marketing exercise,
while raising money for Save the Children at the same time. We both
Some programmes which begin as straight community sponsorships later
take on a CRM dimension. Shell’s LiveWIRE scheme for promoting awareness
of the importance of enterprise among the young has run nationally since
1984. However, last autumn Shell ran a pilot scheme promoting LiveWIRE
with flyers and stanchion posters at 60 of its sites. In so doing, Shell
was moving the scheme into the realms of CRM, and the hope is that the
pilot will be expanded.
Stella Hitner, managing director of PR agency the Reputation Managers,
applauds Shell for its efforts with LiveWIRE. One of her wishes is that
more business-to-business clients would try out CRM.
Saatchi & Saatchi Cause Connection director Marjorie Thompson says:
’It’s time to remove worthy causes from the ghetto of social
responsibility budgets and integrate them within marketing budgets.’
Her comment is perhaps harsh on community relations teams. However, CRM
is marketing, and should be given the same support as any other
KIMBERLY-CLARK ON A ROLL WITH ANDREX PUPPY ANNIVERSARY
In a campaign devised by its PR consultancy Lexis, Kimberly-Clark
celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Andrex Puppy advertising last
year with a three-month promotion running from April 1. The centrepiece
of the promotion saw consumers exchange on-pack tokens for a limited
edition Andrex Puppy soft toy and in the process raise money for the
Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA).
Objectives were to build perceptions of Andrex as one of the UK’s
best-loved brands and develop loyalty among consumers at a local level.
The tie-in with GDBA, a charity Andrex has supported in the past, made
sense because of the brand’s strong association with dogs.
About 25,000 Rainbow Guides and Brownie packs were targeted to help with
the fundraising. A freephone hotline was set up, Lexis put together an
appeal pack and token collection was incentivised. Prizes were given to
the top guide or brownie pack and individual collector in each of nine
Lexis supported the campaign with radio promotions and straight PR. Over
170 stories in the print media reached an estimated 14.7 million people.
Radio interviews, together with the paid-for on-air promotions, were
heard by an estimated 18 million people.
’Lexis ran an outstanding campaign, turning regular sales promotion into
a great piece of cause-related marketing,’ says Andrex marketing manager
Joe Bromilow. ’I am convinced that their work made an enormous
contribution to our uplift in sales and a 6% increase in market share
over the course of the campaign.’ The campaign raised pounds 263,500 for
GDBA and won Lexis a PRCA Award for Outstanding Consultancy
CARDS AGAINST WAR
Telecoms company Worldcall recently launched a series of collectible
phonecards, sales of which will benefit the charity Warchild to the tune
of pounds 1 per card sold. The cards feature original designs by famous
musicians such as David Bowie, Underworld, Graham Coxon of Blur, Kate
Bush and Peter Gabriel, and are presented in a mini CD-style box.
The cards are available by mail order and at selected stores. Card users
will be able to save up to 70% on national and international calls.
Corporate responsibility specialist Addition has been retained by
Worldcall, with a remit to help position it as a company known for its
Addition helped its client devise the music star cards, which are the
first in a series of CRM initiatives planned for this year.
As well as offering strategic input, Addition is handling the media
relations campaign. The cards are aimed at ordinary consumers and
Fusilateley, as the collection of phonecards is known, is growing in
popularity. Although the first phonecard only appeared in Italy in 1976,
it is claimed that 100,000 people now collect them in the UK.
Rare phonecards can command high prices - not long ago someone forked
out an astonishing pounds 28,000 for a Taiwanese example.
’We’ve been quite surprised by the amount of publicity there’s been on
this,’ says Warchild music-related funding co-ordinator James
’Even publications like Melody Maker have been supportive and given it
Anyone interested in purchasing Warchild charity phonecards should call
0800 496 5656.