Spare Change

making a difference with social marketing
by Nedra Kline Weinreich
Earlier today I received an email consisting simply of a graphic card wishing me a happy holiday. What a nice thought... with one problem. I had no idea who this couple was! I racked my brain, asked my husband, and looked through various school and other membership directories to see where I might know them from. Since we're new to the area, I thought maybe they were people I'd met somewhere and forgotten. I felt awful that these nice people went through the trouble of including us in their holiday wishes and I had no clue who they were. I even considered sending them an apologetic email asking them to remind me where we knew each other from.

Then my husband noticed that the graphic image was hosted on an eponymous website for our apparent friend Stuart. We went to the website and it all became clear. The headline "Stuart Waldman Democrat for Assembly" revealed that this dose of holiday cheer was simply a cynical attempt to con potential voters into thinking friendly thoughts toward the candidate.

If the card had added a line at the bottom with something like "Stuart Waldman, Democrat for Assembly" or even just the URL of his website, it would have made it easy to find out who he was. But as it was, it pretended to be a card from people I know. I am certain that I never gave him my email, and if other incumbent politicians are harvesting my email address from letters I have sent regarding legislation and giving it to him, that's just sleazy. Spam by any other name would still taste gross.

I don't appear to be in his district, but I certainly wouldn't vote for someone who doesn't mind being deceptive -- or even who is just clueless about the niceties of using digital media. The holidays are not a time for spam. And full disclosure of who you are is always in season.

Unlike this guy, I genuinely wish you a happy and peaceful holiday. Thanks to all my readers for giving me your precious time and attention, for leaving great comments, and -- in many cases -- for your real and virtual friendship.

UPDATE: Stuart kindly sent me an email responding to this post explaining what had happened, which I am publishing here with his permission:
Dear Nedra,

My name is Stuart Waldman, and, now as you know, I am a candidate for State Assembly. I noticed the posting on your blog regarding my holiday greeting, and I apologize for any inconvenience my holiday card may have caused.

I am sorry that you were offended by my email. You are a registered Democrat in West Hills, and your email address came up on a list of registered voters. My election is in June and I thought that I would send out the card, simply to wish you a happy holiday season. You are correct that I should have added a disclaimer that the card was from me. I can assure you that there was nothing sleazy or devious in my intention; it was really just a lack of computer skills and an error on my part. I was having trouble with the computer program and the graphic holiday card, and the footer didn't show up. I have removed your email address from my list, however, you will still likely be receiving postal mail from my campaign.

If you had replied to the email I sent you, I would have happily told you who I am and why I sent the card, and I'm sorry you felt you couldn't do that. I am accessible and available to you and this community, and always respond to emails and calls. Please feel free to give me a call [Ed.: cell number deleted] or shoot me an email should you have any more questions.

I hope that you will consider voting for me in spite of my email faux pas. I have been active in the non-profit world for more than a decade, having served on numerous boards. I would be glad to have your support.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Stuart Waldman
Good for Stuart for being on top of what people are saying about him online and responding so quickly to this issue (I received his email the same day, but permission to print it a few days later).

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Though this story has been out for a while, I just came across it. Hanukkah is not the only holiday whose traditions are under assault by overzealous social marketers this year. Recently, the acting US Surgeon General Steven Galson said that Santa Claus needs to slim down because “[i]t is really important that the people who kids look up to as role models are in good shape, eating well and getting exercise… Santa is no different.”

So, now is Santa going to have washboard abs and jog from house to house instead of riding in his sleigh? The image of Santa is so ubiquitous and steeped in tradition that the thought of someone trying to change what he looks like to turn him into a white-bearded Jack LaLanne is simply ridiculous.

I'm the first person to agree that portrayals of fictional people in popular culture can have an impact on social norms and individual health-related behaviors. That's what entertainment education is all about, for gosh sakes. But we also have to operate within reality and realize that Santa is Santa and that many people have a strong emotional and nostalgic relationship with the traditional image. Messing with those traditions is asking for trouble and a major backlash against the overall cause of promoting a healthy body size.

Santa is not a role model for kids in the same way that someone like Hannah Montana would be an aspirational character. I don't think that children want to grow up to be just like Santa one day. (Disclaimer: I did not grow up with Santa in my own holiday traditions, and have no particular feelings for him one way or the other, so I'm conjecturing here.)

Maybe instead of transforming Santa, parents could be encouraged to model healthful holiday behavior around their children. Instead of leaving him milk and cookies, they could have their kids think about some healthy snacks Santa might enjoy. They could take a Christmas day walk as a family or get up and get moving with their kids' new Wii. Parents should identify the people in their children's lives (friends/relatives/acquaintances as well as celebrities) who live a healthy lifestyle and have them spend time exposed to those role models. These are things that can positively impact the way kids think about eating and fitness -- NOT taking beloved religious/cultural icons and shoehorning them into an image that is the opposite of what they are known for.

Santa can be a role model for generosity and love, but to recreate him into a fitness and nutrition advocate is just ho-ho-horribly misguided.

I hope your Christmas -- for those of you who celebrate it -- is a happy and healthy one, full of old and new traditions.

Photo Credit: twm1340

Note: Why was the Coca-Cola ad pictured above so effective and iconic? Because it transferred the positive feelings associated with the image to the product. If you change what Santa looks like, you can't tap into those deep-rooted emotions in the same way.

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For this week's Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, we're looking back at some of the best campaigns of 2007.

Bryan Miller of the UK Fundraising blog highlights the Crisis "Send a Singer" campaign, which raised one million pounds by encouraging companies to replace their traditional Christmas cards with video e-cards depicting people who had been helped by the charity.

Paul Jones of Cause-Related Marketing is enthusiastic about the "open source cause-related marketing" that General Mills has done with its Box Tops for Education campaign.

Marc van Gurp of the newly launched Osocio site nominated Amnesty International France's campaign called "Your signature is more powerful than you think." UPDATED LINK TO VIDEO Unfortunately, the video is no longer available on YouTube, but Marc describes it as "The best from the best art director of the world, Erik Vervroegen, TBWA/Paris."

The DMA's Integrator blog provided a wonderful example of a successful fundraising campaign for the Save Darfur Coalition, which raised over $415,000 online. The best part is that the post includes a breakdown of each element of the appeal with the corresponding number of gifts and average amount raised by each approach.

CK showed how effective a commercial can be when it uses "show don't tell" marketing. Though Durex Condoms are not a nonprofit product, it's definitely related to social marketing (and the guys dressed up as eager sperm are awfully cute).

Katya Andresen on her Nonprofit Marketing Blog told the story of a pair of sisters who launched their own personal campaign to raise money for the Genesis Home. One of the sisters laid out all the channels and approaches that they used to successfully raise about $10,000.

Anastasia Goodstein of Ypulse talked about the Ad Council's Delete Cyberbullying campaign back in March. The spots are painful to watch, but elicit exactly the right emotional response in the viewer.

And one of my favorite campaigns this year has been the Florida Department of Health's "Talk to the 5th Guy" campaign. It's a humorous take on hygiene and preventing the spread of germs at the workplace. (The premise is that 4 out of 5 people wash their hands -- Ben Mitchell is that fifth guy.)

What are your favorite campaigns from this year? Please share them in the comments!

Next week the Carnival will travel to the Donor Power Blog. If you would like your blog to be included in this carnival, go to to submit your post using the form there or send an email to npc.carnival AT yahoo DOT com with your name, your blog’s name and the URL of the post (not your blog homepage). The deadline is usually Friday, 8:00 p.m. ET.

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Calling all nonprofit bloggers!!

I'll be hosting the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants here on Monday, and I am putting a call out for posts about your favorite nonprofit campaign (social marketing, fundraising, or otherwise) from this past year. You can write a new post before Sunday night or send me a link to a post you wrote during 2007 highlighting a great marketing campaign created by a nonprofit organization or government agency.

I need the link by Sunday night 8 pm Pacific time (sorry for the late notice). Send an email to npc.carnival AT yahoo DOT com with your name, your blog’s name and the URL of the post (not your blog homepage). Or if you would like to let me know your favorite campaign here in the comments, without a specific blog post, that's fine too.

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I have no idea who I will be voting for yet, as the presidential candidates make their way through the early primary states. But I do know who I will not be voting for: Fred Thompson.

From CNN:

Fred Thompson wants the government to keep its hands off your dinner plate.

That's what he told a questioner Tuesday in South Carolina, anyway.

Standing about 15 feet away from a mouth-watering steam tray buffet loaded with fried chicken, creamed corn and macaroni and cheese at Wade's Southern Cooking in Spartanburg, Thompson dismissed the idea that preventative care and wellness education should be central features of a government's health care system.

"I'm telling you, I don’t think that it’s the primary responsibility of the federal government to tell you what to eat," Thompson said to applause when asked if his health care plan included any details on preventative care, a priority for Democratic candidates.

"The fact of the matter is we got an awful lot of knowledge,” said the former Tennesse senator. “Sometimes we don’t have a whole lot of will power, and I don’t know of any government program that's going to instill that."

Thompson, ever a fan of small government, said healthy living should be the responsibilities of families first.

Since when is preventive care and health promotion a partisan issue? Can he not see that helping people get healthier will save government health care costs down the road? Will somebody please tell him about social marketing?

At least Thompson understands that knowledge is not sufficient for bringing about change, but he needs to be educated about the many federally funded programs that are "instilling will power" and resulting in healthier, more productive and less health care-utilizing citizens. He's right that families are the first line of defense in building a healthy lifestyle, but many people do not have the knowledge or skills to make it happen on their own.

I hate to think what would happen to the CDC with him in charge.

Photo Credit: South Iowa

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As the holiday of Hanukkah starts tonight, a new campaign is urging Jews to skip burning a candle during this Festival of Lights. The Green Hanukkia campaign (a hanukkia, or menorah, is the 9-branched candleholder) was founded by a couple of Israelis who do environmental and PR consulting. They say that one candle produces 15 grams of CO2 when burned completely, and the effect of millions of households lighting so many candles over the eight nights of Hanukkah would do "significant damage to the atmosphere."

Liad Ortar, the campaign's cofounder, says, "The campaign calls for Jews around the world to save the last candle and save the planet, so we won't need another miracle." They are encouraging Jews who are not religious to avoid lighting the hanukkiah at all. For observant Jews, lighting the candles each of the eight nights of Hanukkah (adding one to the total lit for each night) is a religious obligation - not negotiable.

What effect will this campaign have beyond alienating those who are already wary of the anti-religious slant of many on the left, or pushing those who are on the fence religiously further away from their heritage? If they are going to suggest pro-environmental behaviors that are related to religious observance, telling people to break millennia-long traditions that are part of their deepest values -- and will make an indetectable impact -- is not the action to select.

How about encouraging people to observe the sabbath and avoid driving and using electricity one day a week? Many observant Jews live one-seventh of their life following the kind of carbon-free lifestyle many environmentalists only dream of. Why not work with organizations like Chabad or the Union for Reform Judaism to promote the idea of taking off one day each week without cars, televisions, video games, or other things that use power? Show how a green lifestyle can fit into a religious life -- not how people should drop their traditions to do what you want them to do.

Next thing you know, those darn social marketers will start distributing recipes for how to make latkes and sufganiyot without oil. :-)

I wish you all a very happy Hanukkah, full of light and miracles!

Photo Credit: chaim zvi
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Just in time for Hanukkah and as an early Xmas present to us social marketers, Dutch blogger Marc van Gurp has unveiled the successor to his earlier blog Houtlust, which had become the go-to site for nonprofit advertising campaigns from around the world. After a 5-month hiatus, the new website Osocio is online and off to a running start.

Osocio takes the best of what made Houtlust such a great resource -- daily examples of advertising from international social marketing and other nonprofit campaigns -- and adds a number of other features that make it the online hub for anything and everything social advertising. Marc has added profiles of nonprofit organizations, a list of relevant workshops and events, a dictionary of terms, news and feeds from other blogs (thanks for including mine, Marc!), and free banner space for nonprofits on the sidebar. Several other bloggers are contributing posts besides Marc, including Virtualpolitik's Liz Losh and Another Limited Rebellion's Noah Scalin (I am not familiar with the others, but look forward to reading their contributions and international perspectives).

Marc's recent Facebook group protest against Facebook's use of the term "Social Ads" reminded me of my constant battle to retain clarity around the use of the term "social marketing." I recently wrote about why naming is important for these fields as a guest blogger on the Influential Marketing Blog, while Rohit Bhargava was off becoming a daddy again.

Am I the only one who has the song Sussudio in their head now? O-so-so-socio!

(Will you ever forgive me?)
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