Good branding and marketing is maximising social enterprise missionsSocial enterprises that combine good marketing with tapping into the consumer market can scale their social impact
Claudia Cahalane – Guardian Professional, Thursday 17 October 2013
When social enterprise Rapanui arranged for Michael Fish to base jump for their campaign they aimed to increase their social impact.
Last summer, more than 30,000 people saw and shared a video clip of famous weather man Michael Fish base jumping off a building as part of a climate change campaign. The stunt was orchestrated by ethical clothing social enterprise Rapanui and cost the company little more than £1,000. But, the campaign generated £15,000-£20,000 worth of sales for the business. And, traffic to its website increased five-fold as people flocked to see what the brand was about and buy some stock, including specially created Che Fish T-shirts.
It was one of several revenue-generating social and environmental issues campaigns run by the enterprise in the last year. The most recent, a Save the Bees campaign with the Environmental Justice Network led to Rapanuis campaign T-shirts being featured in Vogue. Within a couple of weeks the business had sold hundreds, donating £5 from each to the network.
“We also did a Save the Badger T-shirt and single with the Badger Trust last Christmas, backed by celebrities including Brian May and Sir David Attenborough,” said Rob Drake-Knight, co-founder of Rapanui. “The single got to No 4 in the Amazon charts.
“Other social enterprises are also realising the sales value of campaigning on issues related to their mission and brand. Last summer, the reusable water bottle social enterprise GiveMeTap ran a campaign on Londons tube network to encourage cafes and other outlets to refill commuters GiveMeTap branded water bottles free of charge to keep people hydrated on hot days. The aim of the enterprise is to reduce plastic bottle waste and encourage water accessibility by partnering with outlets who will refill its customers bottles.
“We promoted the campaign with the launch of a new hot pink bottle and got featured in the national press,” said Edwin Broni-Mensah, its founder. “Our Facebook followers increased from 1,800 to just over 5,800 from August to mid-September and sales increased by 1,500%,” he said.
Belu Water, which gives its profits to Water Aid, marked World Water Week, last month by encouraging staff to carry a watermelon for six days. “Our brand is increasingly recognised on the high street, but we want people to understand more about our connection to Water Aid, and to raise awareness of the fact that millions of people have to walk miles to access clean water,” revealed Sophie McCready, head of marketing at Belu.
“Staff got lots of attention from the public, with people asking questions about Belu and Water Aid. Were never going to have a huge marketing budget, so something like this works well,” she said.
Pulling a celebrity in, like Rapanui’s Michael Fish escapade, will undoubtedly generate more attention and sales. Lee Blake has just seen the full value of this after his social enterprise Made By Young People, printed Born in the NHS T-shirts for Mark Thomas’s recent tour.
“I tweeted Mark as I was going to see him live in Birmingham. I asked him if our young people could make him a T-shirt. His Twitter followers suggested Born in the NHS,” said Blake, who set up the enterprise to support young people who arent in education, employment or training.
‘”Other celebrities, including Caitlin Moran and Rufus Hound, picked it up and weve have had loads of orders for more T-shirts, mugs and phone cases and much more web traffic,” added Blake.
It has come at a good time, he said. “July and August were really quiet for us, things were tight, but this T-shirt campaign brought in about £10,000.”
“Were now getting other people in the public eye wanting to work with us on other campaigns and merchandise. This is a really good income generator and we give some profits to charity too,” he added.For more news, opinions and ideas about the social enterprise sector, join our community