Four lessons from Ben & Jerry’s Fair Tweets campaign
4 June 2012 -

In 2011, the ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s hired ad agency Amalgamated to raise awareness for World Fair Trade Day on May 14. Twitter, of course, was the obvious medium for broadcasting the message. Instead of merely designing a splashy website, tweeting about it, and calling it a day, Amalgamated took a more unconventional approach to twitter marketing. They noticed that many Twitter users do not use the full 140 characters allocated to each tweet. Rather than letting these extra characters go to waste, the agency created an application that automatically filled up each tweet with Fair Trade messages.

A normal tweet went from “Sitting on my sofa watching tv” to “Sitting on my sofa watching tv / I’m sharing my unused Twitter characters to raise awareness for #FairTrade. #FairTweets http://fairn.es/8hi”.

Over a two week period, Fair Tweets picked up 40 million impressions, went out to 12 million Twitter users, and was picked up by 1,300 blogs and newspapers. The overwhelming success of this campaign demonstrates four key points applicable to any company that plans to leverage the web for their CSR publicity:

Web-savviness

Fair Tweets was well-positioned to take advantage of the social and viral nature of Twitter. By embedding a message into every tweet, the campaign ensured that a giant and diverse audience was exposed to what might have otherwise been a niche issue.

Simplicity

The utility, purpose and application of Fair Tweets are instantly obvious to any Twitter user. Given the infinite distractions of the web, any call to action that cannot be grasped within a few seconds will likely fail. There was also the added benefit of certain symmetry to the campaign and the cause it represented. While Fair Tweets made sure that no character was wasted, at least part of the Fair Trade certification is to ensure sustainability and waste reduction.

Ease of use

Free and easy to install, the Fair Tweet app ensured that users did not have long to wait – or much to think about – before their tweets were auto-completed with Fair Trade messages. Call it slacktivisim, but the results speak for themselves. 

Results, regardless of budget

Although Ben & Jerry’s is a big CSR player with a budget to match, their Fair Tweets did not require huge billboards, elaborate stunts, or big-name actors to be successful. With an operating cost of only US$29,000, the campaign achieved a tremendous bang for its buck.

-Allison Guy

For advice on your company’s social responsibility strategy, please contact us.