Friday, September 30, 2016

Are sponsoring national parks and classrooms winning strategies?

Last March, The National Parks Foundation (NPF) announced a proposed revision to its policies that would allow corporate sponsorships at national parks, including naming rights, logos, printed materials and interpretive exhibits and digital media.  Immediately the press started to joke about using Old Faithful to pitch Viagra.

The folks at NPF say that the donors will only be allowed to do something tasteful like they do at universities and museums.  But they also say that corporate donors are wary of being associated with the commercialization of national parks. (Tkaczyk, 2016)

This week Levi Strauss announced that they will be bringing lessons on water conservation to 1.5 million grade-school kids.  Levi's is already heavily invested in the initiative.  Did you hear how rarely the CEO washes his jeans?  But there are some who question the intent of the "Our Watery World" program, which is aimed at kids in grade 3 -5.  (Mahoney, 2016)

As we discussed last week, there is ample evidence that cause marketing can be effective.  But what do you think about these examples?  Do you think they will make people want to buy something?  Why?

Tkaczyk, C. (2016, May 10)  No, the US National Parks Will Not Be Sponsored by Viagra.  Retrieved September 30, 2016, from

Mahoney, S. (2016, September 29)  Classroom Controversy: Levi's Joins Brands Bearing Causes.  Retrieved September 30, 2016, from


  1. I think that placing advertisements at a national park is tricky. It makes total sense for some and none for others. For example, I'd imagine a North Face ad to be used, rather than something like Bloomingdales. Regarding Levi Strauss, the idea of not having to wash your jeans often is definitely appealing for young children.

  2. I do think people will buy these jeans. Another example of a corporate that is socially responsible to the needs of people and that is making a lot of money is GSTAR. GSTAR recommended that instead of washing your jeans to make room in your freezer after each use. This not only conserve water but that that G-Star Raw jeans are dyed, cut and sewn a certain way, such that washing them would alter their appearance.

    G-Star RAW also came out with a line, which includes denim garments made using recycled plastic removed from the oceans.

    As many people know about the ongoing difficult effort of trying to clean up plastic island in the pacific. (Plastic island is a patch in the pacific ocean were all plastic containers seem to end up because of currents).

    The danger of this island which is twice the side of France, is marine animals and birds ingest plastic which just doesn’t go away from their stomach. Eventually, it starts filling it up, and if it’s not toxic, and kills them, it fills their stomach and basically causes the animals to starve to death – a quite painful and tragic death. It can be harmful even for humans because we too eat the animals which ingest the plastic.

    Consumers like to believe that the company they purchase their goods from are socially responsible. A recent survey from marketing agency Good.Must.Grow (GMG) found that most Americans care about buying products from companies that do good in the world. In the same survey about 60% of people said that buying goods from socially-responsible companies is important to them.

  3. I absolutely think that cause marketing is effective. Just look at Warby Parker as an example. They pride themselves on leading the way for socially conscious businesses, as every pair of glasses you buy will be affordable and will also provide a pair of glasses to someone in need. Today they are estimated at being worth over $1 billion. Granted, a lot of this can be attributed to excellent eCommerce strategy and product positioning, but I truly believe that people feel less guilty splurging on themselves when they feel like their splurging is benefiting someone else in the end. It can be hard enough to get a consumer to justify a purchase, so with this as the tipping point, I feel like you can't go wrong. (Toms is another great example.)

    I found this article to be interesting, which also shed light on the fact that a company can find success in a campaign that promotes a cause even if their business model doesn't do so. For example AT&T's campaign against texting and driving.

  4. Toms shoes come across as the first thought I had for "Causevertising" because of the offer of donating shoes to underprivileged children for each pair of Toms shoes you buy.
    I also understand why certain schools and national parks would do this as they are underfunded and need income and resources anyway they can get it. For some people this can come off and may in fact be predatory advertising, but if the partners have good optics and don't start turning science class into the "Pfizer Phun time" where you learn about how all the different pills and neglect actual learning, it may be a net positive.

  5. I had an ex boyfriend who loved his Levi's. They were dyed very heavily and to preserve the color and the fit, he read that instead of washing your jeans regularly, you should put them in the freezer . It kills any bacteria and most smells (if you spill something on them, a wash is usually necessary.) But I think at 30 yrs old its interesting to just learn of that now. As a child growing up, having that knowledge could make a huge impact in water consumption- you change an entire generation of humans. So, with that being said, if a company has the power to make that kind of an impact, it's worth the sponsorship. Although, I do still believe sponsorship is a slippery slope... -Raina

  6. I personally believe having advertisements in a national parks would take away from their beauty. I mean the whole point to visit a national park is to get out from urban life and appreciate mother nature.
    On the other hand I understand parks for wanting to have corporate sponsors and use the money to preserve wildlife, I`m just not sure how you preserve it while you setting up different sights and advertisement in mother nature.


  7. I believe that social responsibility marketing is one of the most effective ways to bring awareness to marketing campaigns. More and more people pay attention to the way the products they are purchasing have been produced. They don’t want to be “regular consumers,” but rather loyal customers who support only the brands they believe in.

    No one can deny that the environmental situation is getting worse and worse those days and it’s important to implement programs that work on preserving the nature. Even though many of such initiatives are created because it’s a great way to receive a tax-exempt, those are still important to have.

    I was conducting my research for today’s paper on vegan makeup, and I found that environmental sustainability is one of the hottest topics of 2016. Considering the amount of Google searches this topic gains (and how many Whole Foods are out there), I would say that many of environmentally friendly campaigns have a chance to be successful.

    The only thing I would add is that it’s important to combine a great cause with a good story. Not washing jeans? This topic seems to be interesting enough to get viral.

  8. Focusing strictly on the idea of whether or not a corporate sponsorship of a National Park would increase sales, I do believe this could be effective if executed properly. As stated, only appropriate advertisers would be accepted as sponsors; which makes sense IMO. An 'on brand' advertiser, such as Subaru, could incorporate their 'no waste assembly plants' along with a National Park sponsorship in order to reach and retain current customers, and access new customers within their 'outdoor lifestyle' demographic. However, I 100% agree that this marketing tactic must be executed with caution, as an off brand advertiser/campaign could create endless negative press and hurt sales. Additionally, an advertiser must look internally and make sure they are operating in line with their environmental initiative as to avoid any potential issues being uncovered once the campaign launches.