Case Study: Every Empty Counts Marketing Campaign

Necessity, as Every Empty Counts recently proved, is the mother of reinvention. This school-based recycling initiative needed to revive lagging interest. A well-crafted marketing campaign overcame key obstacles, increasing program enrollment by 425 per cent. At the 2015 Canadian Marketing Association Awards night, the campaign took home the bronze INCITE Award for the Orange Door agency.

Although Alberta’s school population was growing, the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation’s (ABCRC) school recycling program participation was declining. The non-profit organization decided to get professional help to meet its goals of creating new habits and environmental awareness that will, hopefully, last a lifetime. ABCRC chose the Orange Door agency to reinvigorate Every Empty Counts.

Orange Door was faced with a dilemma that boiled down to “How do we get attention for Every Empty Counts – AGAIN?” How to renew interest in the students, teachers and the parent groups who raised awareness, recycled and reported on each school’s beverage container recycling results without changing the essential program? 

Research, Research, Research

Behind every successful marketing campaign lies at least one key insight into consumer behaviour – which requires research into how consumers interact with the brand. 

It’s tougher to generate buzz for an older product, but the right marketing approach can regenerate your offering’s appeal with consumers. A few years ago, Old Spice was viewed as an off trend “granddad” brand. Research by the agency tasked with refreshing the brand revealed that women were responsible for 50% of the purchases in its market, so they created an ad that appealed to women and made men laugh—if a little uneasily! The Smell like a Man, Man campaign created a viral sensation, doubling sales and turning Old Spice into the U.S.A.’s top selling brand of men’s body wash.

Orange Door’s research for ABCRC and the Every Empty Countsprogram discovered that:

  • Principals and teachers are time-starved, with many demands on their attention.
  • The parent volunteer groups who often led each school’s program turned over yearly, resulting in a loss of awareness and less participation. 
  • Text based program materials were less successful in engaging younger and ESL students.

Orange Door set about creating campaign to catch the attention of principals, engage teachers and parents and visually inspire school children to recycle.

Marketing Channels: A Clear Choice

Once the agency identified why Every Empty Counts had lost traction and the barriers to campaign success, it was faced with a new problem. As Orange Door Director Kathy Levinski explains, “There are challenges in reaching out to schools and getting past their internal gatekeepers.The province of Alberta has very strict rules about advertising to children, so we couldn’t promote the recycling program directly. And privacy regulations meant we had no access to schools – no email lists, no easy other ways to communicate with them.  

We could buy a list of school addresses and principals’ names, so we decided to use direct mail as our campaign’s main channel. To get past the gatekeepers, the direct mail piece needed to be unique—attention grabbing. We also wanted it to be shareable, with added value and hence longevity.”

Getting Creative

The agency decided to focus on providing awareness materials that recipients would keep and use. It designed teaching aids, with easy-to-understand graphics that showed the positive impact of recycling. Now it had to make sure that the materials reached Alberta classrooms.

 “We’d had some success in the past with clear envelopes producing better opening rates,” says Levinski. “So we upped the ante and created a clear box for mailing our campaign materials to principals. Unique, dimensional mail is a great way to get past the gatekeepers and reach the decision makers’ desks, especially in B2B marketing. It’s not just the great visual, there’s also the sound and movement inside when you pick up the box.”

The teaching aids’ fun visuals were designed help kids remember the facts and motivate them to be active in the recycling program, spurring more in-school parent groups’ participation. Students learned what happened to their beverage containers after they were tossed into the recycling bins.

Principals received a short, highly visual brochure personalized with their names along with the teaching materials. The call to action (CTA) asked principals, teachers or parent groups responsible for the schools’ recycling program to register their schools in the Every Empty Countsprogram and indicated that the materials were a thank you for their time (a bigger package, including bins, is sent when schools sign up).

Results Worth Bragging About

The campaign created by Orange Door increased new enrollment in the program by 425 per cent. Understandably, the client was very happy with these results. An unexpected result for the staff of ABCRC was the appreciative phone calls and emails from teachers, saying how much they loved the teaching tools. This was all the more surprising because the mail piece’s CTA was to visit the website – there was no email address or phone number listed on it.  

 “The client realizes that there’s a need for reinforcement and re-engagement every year,” says Levinski. Success, for any business or non-profit, depends upon continuous communication and engagement, rather than a one-off campaign. 

The Canadian Marketing Association recognized the successful campaign with the INCITE Award’s bronze medal. 

The Orange Door agency used insights into their target audience to create a campaign embodying the essence of Smartmail Marketing. It combined a compelling physical experience with precise target data and connected the online and offline message components to amplify the campaign’s impact. As a result, many more beverage containers have been diverted from landfill and Alberta schoolchildren and their parents have an increased awareness of the power of recycling.

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