The next time you’re driving around town, be sure to check out your city’s fire hydrants – there might be a chicken bucket on top of them!
Last week, I read an article about KFC’s recent advertising campaign to promote their new “fiery” chicken wings. As part of the campaign, KFC has given $7,500 to two cities in Indiana – $5,000 to Indianapolis and $2,500 to Brazil – to help them buy new fire hydrants and fire extinguishers to improve their fire safety. In exchange, three fire hydrants in Brazil will bear KFC’s logo and will have actual chicken buckets on them, and about 33 fire extinguishers in Indianapolis will also be branded with KFC’s logo. KFC is planning on finding three more cities throughout the country to participate in this same program.
This story brought to mind a similar KFC endeavor. Last year, KFC partnered with four cities on a campaign to “refresh” their potholes. They filled in potholes around each city and branded them with a chalk stencil that read “Re-Freshed by KFC.” It was part of KFC’s marketing campaign to promote their dedication to freshness.
It’s not often that you hear about unique private/public partnerships like these. In fact, the first thought that came to mind when I read the article was, “Why can’t more companies do things like this?”
Research is beginning to show that consumers are expecting more from businesses when it comes to corporate citizenship. A 2005 study by public relations firm GolinHarris called “Doing Well by Doing Good” states that “40 percent of respondents to the survey of 3,500 Americans say that good corporate citizenship makes them more willing to do business with a company. The survey found that corporate citizenship can influence consumer opinion and behavior, and essentially turn consumers into brand champions.” Cause Marketing Forum – a site founded to promote cause-related marketing efforts – has several studies and statistics about consumers and how they feel about companies’ corporate citizenship practices. Here are a few of the many that I found interesting:
- 92% of consumers consider it important for corporations to contribute to non-profits in some way
- Almost 90% of teenagers said they would switch to a brand affiliated with a good cause, if price and quality were equal
- 72% of employed Americans would choose to work for a company that supports charitable causes when deciding between two jobs with the same location, responsibilities, pay and benefits
- 68% of people think that a company’s active involvement in communities determines their performance as a good corporate citizen
- 61% think that a company is a good corporate citizen if they support a cause or issue that has led to positive improvement or change
- When surveyed consumers were aware of a given company’s cause-related marketing efforts, they consistently rated the company more highly in the categories of trust, endorsement, bonding and innovation
Private/public partnerships like the two KFC examples are becoming a necessity in today’s economy. Marketers are looking for alternative ways to reach people as they are becoming more immune to traditional forms of advertising. At the same time, city governments and non-profits are faced with ever decreasing budgets, forcing them to find alternative funding for projects.
Forming a private/public partnership is a win-win for both parties involved. KFC is benefiting by building community goodwill, which increases their positive brand perception that can ultimately lead to increased sales and customer loyalty. The cities involved in the partnership are showing that they are willing to go out on a limb and find alternative funding rather than putting needed repairs – like potholes and hydrants – on hold, and most citizens will appreciate the extra effort their governments are putting forth.
Advertising agencies shouldn’t be afraid to jump on this opportunity either. Businesses look to their agencies for creative strategy and support that gets them noticed and sets them apart from their competitors. When creating strategies for clients, agencies should keep partnerships in mind. Appropriateness of a partnership varies on a case-by-case basis, but it should be considered at the very least. Not to mention that we agency employees always appreciate when a project comes along that is unique and different – its something we can get excited about! I’d love to be able to smugly say to others: “See that chicken bucket on top of that fire hydrant? Yeah, I helped make that possible.”