Campaign Trail is our analysis of some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world. View past columns in the archives here.
While many marketers clamor to incorporate purposeful messaging into their campaigns, those that take quantifiable action to support a cause — rather than simply paying it lip service — see the greatest gains in forging deep ties with consumers. Kind Healthy Snacks this week announced its first foray into gender equality activism with an interactive effort that aims to make legislative change surrounding the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed constitutional amendment to guarantee equality for women and men.
To rally support for the amendment — which has recently seen new life after languishing for decades — the 16-year-old snack bar brand created an "Equality Bot" chatbot that lets people send a text to their state senators expressing support for the ERA's passage, along with a limited-edition Kind Equality treat and partnership with the Alice Paul Institute.
Kind chose to back the ERA because of its potential to spark change on a swath of gender-related issues, the company's Chief of Staff Elle Lanning told Marketing Dive. The timely push arrives ahead of International Women's Day on March 8 and commemorates the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.
"Through this project, we are hoping to spread more compassion and, in the process, elevate values like kindness and empathy, which our society needs now more than ever," Lanning said.
The ERA effort, created in-house, stems from Kind's broader Snack & Give Back Project to inspire kindness and empathy. By creating a special-edition bar linked to individual social causes, Kind aims to support communities that haven't received their fair share of kindness, Lanning said.
Product packaging as creative
Today's marketers are using creative packaging designs to catch customers' eyes and allow products to stand out online and on store shelves. Flexible packaging designs like Kind's can help brands more agilely shift a product's look around a particular marketing effort, while maintaining the brand's core visual identity that consumers recognize. The snack maker's equality-themed bar comes in a white wrapper displaying the word "equality" under Kind's classic logo, with the well-known vector for female doubling as the "Q" letter. Adding such a direct campaign-specific element to packaging alongside a more recognizable logo unifies the product and brand to send visual cues that communicate a message — in this case, how Kind uses its snack bars to promote gender equality.
The brand's caramel almond and sea salt flavor was chosen for the effort because it is a best-seller. It will be available online and in nearly 200 Athleta stores this weekend.
The Equality bar is the company's latest product to link to a social cause. In June 2019, it created the Kind Pride bar to support the LGBTQIA+ community as it launched the Snack & Give Back Project. Last November, it introduced the Kind Heroes bar to honor U.S. military service.
"When we were ideating how to bring this campaign to life, we wanted to bring meaningful change to as many women as possible, which took some time to research and develop," Lanning said.
A key piece of the campaign that's designed to drum up meaningful legislative change is the Equality Bot. Kind worked with Resistbot, a service that connects mobile users with their government representatives. Tapping SMS, technology that's standard to most mobile phones, lets Kind inspire direct action in a straightforward manner and helps to simplify the process of signing the collective petition while extending the campaign's reach.
"Knowing that most Americans do not have the time to participate in the time-consuming act of contacting elected state officials, we knew we had to create a convenient way for people's voices to be heard," Lanning said.
The snack maker is also erecting kiosks at college campuses in Arizona and Florida — two states that have yet to ratify the ERA — and Kind's hometown of New York City.
"We want as many people to learn about the ERA and participate with the Equality Bot as possible, especially the next generation of Americans," per Lanning.
"Knowing that most Americans do not have the time to participate in the time-consuming act of contacting elected state officials, we knew we had to create a convenient way for people's voices to be heard."
Kind Healthy Snacks, chief of staff
Encouraging supporters to post about their participation on social media throughout March may help Kind to reach these college-age adults, younger folks who tend to favor brands that support social causes like gender equality. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers said they would buy from or boycott a brand based on its social or political positions, Edelman's Earned Brand study found. Millennials and Gen Zers tend to feel connected to these types of important causes, and more than two-thirds of the younger demographic think brands should help them achieve those goals, a PSFK survey revealed.
Kind plans to promote the campaign across its owned social channels and will donate $1 to the Alice Paul Institute, up to $20,000. Select influencers will share news about the effort via Instagram, per Lanning.
Meanwhile, Kind's push for equal rights around International Women's Day aligns with the brand's broader messaging that's been rooted in effecting meaningful change since Kind's founding in 2004. Last summer the brand kicked off a multichannel campaign, dubbed "Be Kind to Yourself," with a new platform to spotlight how people make compromises when it comes to making healthy lifestyle choices amid increasingly busy lives. Core creative included a 30-second ad on TV, digital and social calling out Clif, one of Kind's chief rivals, and its use of brown rice syrup. The spot has raked in 13 million views since it hit the brand's YouTube channel in June.
Now, the snack maker looks to continue charging ahead with its mission-oriented marketing in "easily actionable and understandable" ways around International Women's Day, according to Lanning.
"With a team that is comprised mostly of women, I'm proud to support women within the Kind community and advocate for gender equality through this initiative," she said. "It encourages people to step out of their comfort zones, connect in authentic ways and discover each other's humanity."