February 23, 2024

Advertising: Panera to Advertise Its Social Consciousness

Purpose marketing, also called pro-social marketing, advertising for good and conscious capitalism, woos consumers with information about the values, behavior and beliefs of the companies that sell the products. The goal is to convince potential customers that the companies operate in a socially responsible manner — marketing “meaningful brands,” to borrow a term from the Havas Media division of Havas — that goes beyond tactics like making charitable contributions or selling a product or two in recyclable packaging.

Purpose marketing is becoming popular on Madison Avenue because of the growing number of shoppers who say that what a company stands for makes a difference in what they do and do not buy.

Consumers are seeking “authentic emotional connections” with brands, said Mandy Levenberg, vice president and consumer strategist for cause and sustainable living at CEB Iconoculture, a consumer research and advisory firm that is part of the Corporate Executive Board Company, and the perception that certain “shared values” can increase loyalty.

Such consumers, frequently referred to as socially conscious shoppers, are assiduous in their research of corporate policies. That means a company doing something deemed at odds with its purpose-based mission statement or high-minded advertising campaign runs the risk of eliciting disappointment — or even a sense of betrayal — among socially conscious shoppers who consider themselves misled.

Thus, a company that pursues purpose marketing must communicate what its “core values” actually are, said Michael Simon senior vice president and chief marketing officer at the Needham, Mass., office of the Panera Bread Company restaurant chain.

For instance, Panera is “a place to get great soup, salads, sandwiches, but we stand for so much more,” he added, citing policies that include donating unsold baked goods, starting the Panera Bread Foundation, working with organizations like Feeding America and opening donation-based community restaurants under the Panera Cares banner.

“We talk about our values internally, but we’ve been reticent to leverage them,” Mr. Simon said. That changed as a result of research that showed that communicating those attributes and actions could be “more compelling to our customers” than conventional pitches about meal deals or how “my sandwich is better than the guy across the street’s.”

So Panera and its new creative agency, Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago, are introducing a campaign, with a budget estimated at $70 million, that bears the slogan: “Live consciously. Eat deliciously.”

The campaign will include television and radio commercials; digital, print and outdoor ads; and a significant presence on social media like Facebook and Twitter. The estimated 13 million customers who belong to the My Panera program will get a preview on Thursday. (The campaign is to be formally introduced on Monday.)

The effort is intended to convey that “as a successful business, the people at Panera believe it’s important to participate in the community beyond pure business,” said Marshall Ross, Cramer-Krasselt’s executive vice president and chief creative officer.

“Of course, Panera’s not the only people to care about these things, deliver these things,” he added, but “when people who like the company for the food hear about the kind of company it is, it changes how they feel; they like it even more, for more emotional, more potent, more loyalty-driving reasons.”

Mr. Ross acknowledged that purpose marketing “really does need to reflect real sincerity, without making people cynical.”

“Sometimes an ad agency’s job is to conjure the story and express it in a fascinating way,” he said. “This time, our job was to shut up and listen to the real story.”

A television commercial that will help introduce the campaign starts with a narrator who says: “When Panera began, we decided to get up every day and bake fresh bread from fresh dough in every bakery cafe. That decision made us wonder, what else could we do the right way?” The narrator goes on to ask: “Could we make food that lives up to our bread? And could it be food you can trust, with ingredients like antibiotic-free chicken?”

The commercial continues in a circular style, underlined by a Rube Goldberg machine that mimics the daily routine at a Panera restaurant. “Could we start all this with a humble loaf of bread?” the narrator concludes. “We already have, and every morning we start again.”

For Bumble Bee seafood, Bumble Bee Foods is playing down traditional ads focused on products in favor of purpose-based efforts under a rubric, “BeeWell for Life,” meant to emphasize health and nutrition. Those efforts involve blogs, e-books, Facebook and a Web site.

“We’re figuring out as a company, as people, how we can effect change,” said David F. Melbourne Jr., senior vice president for marketing and corporate social responsibility at Bumble Bee Foods in San Diego. “Rather than pushing out brand messaging, we’re engaging consumers in a more meaningful way.”

In pursuing purpose marketing, initiatives ought to “incorporate realistic goals,” he added, to keep the campaigns from seeming too ethereal.

Bumble Bee Foods is primarily working with two agencies, Mr. Melbourne said, Geary Interactive in San Diego and Fleishman-Hillard, part of the Omnicom Group. Spending for the “BeeWell for Life” efforts is estimated at $5 million.

Other brands known for purpose marketing include Kashi, sold by Kellogg, and Whole Foods Market. A newcomer to the trend, Union Bank, is introducing a campaign by Eleven in San Francisco that carries the theme “Doing right, it’s just good business.” It features Edward James Olmos and Maya Angelou. Ms. Angelou? As in, “I Know Why the Caged Bank Sings”?

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/business/media/panera-to-advertise-its-social-consciousness-advertising.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Today’s Economist: Bruce Bartlett: Republicans Champion ‘Voluntary Taxes’

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Bruce Bartlett held senior policy roles in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and served on the staffs of Representatives Jack Kemp and Ron Paul. He is the author of “The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform — Why We Need It and What It Will Take.”

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives took a break last week from doing nothing to pass a bill to facilitate voluntary taxation. Almost simultaneously, Mitt Romney released his final tax return for 2011, showing that he voluntarily overpaid his taxes by taking less of a deduction for his charitable contributions than he was permitted.

Today’s Economist

Perspectives from expert contributors.

The legislation was H.R. 6410, “The Buffett Rule Act of 2012.” Those not acquainted with the misleading titles often given to Congressional bills might at first glance think this one has something to do with raising taxes on the ultrawealthy.

Of course, Republicans would never actually raise taxes on the ultrawealthy; they think, or at least assert publicly, that the deficit results from too many poor people not paying taxes. But it would be very helpful to them to have a fig leaf that looks as if they had found a way of getting the rich to pay more. That is by encouraging them to voluntarily pay more, as Mr. Romney did.

Named for the billionaire Warren Buffett, what came to be known as the “Buffett rule” is a proposal by Democrats that all those with incomes of $1 million or more pay at least 30 percent of their income in federal income taxes.

Mr. Romney and his wife had an effective federal income tax rate of just 14 percent, including the voluntary overpayment, on incomes over $13 million in each of the years 2010 and 2011, the only ones for which they have released tax returns.

In April, Senate Republicans filibustered an effort by Democrats to enact a real Buffett rule. Thus there was no chance that Congress would actually legislate higher taxes on the wealthy this year. But apparently, House Republicans feel pressured by voters to respond to the low effective tax rates that many rich people pay, which contribute significantly to historically low federal revenues as a share of the gross domestic product and, hence, to the deficit and the debt.

Republicans recognize that the Buffett rule is politically popular. An April Gallup poll found that Americans favor the Buffett rule by 60 percent to 37 percent, an Ipsos/Reuters poll in March found people supporting it by 64 percent to 30 percent, and a February Associated Press/GfK poll found 65 percent in favor of the Buffett rule and only 26 percent opposed.

H.R. 6410, which was introduced on Sept. 14 and passed the House by voice vote on Sept. 19 with no hearings and just a few minutes of debate, would allow taxpayers to designate on their tax returns a contribution to the federal government, over and above their tax liability, for deficit reduction. Of course, the Treasury has had a fund since 1843 to accept gifts, so the new legislation doesn’t really do anything. So far this year, $7.6 million has been donated.

Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, characterized the Republican legislation as a “pretty please” bill. As he put it, “Pretty please, Warren Buffett, pretty please, Mitt Romney, won’t you help contribute a little bit more toward reducing our deficit?”

One could perhaps take the Republican proposal more seriously if it also required a statement on application forms for Social Security and Medicare that those qualified should consider voluntarily forgoing benefits to reduce the deficit. The forms that farmers use to apply for agricultural subsidies could suggest that they put deficit reduction ahead of their personal interest, and so on.

The political reality is that Republicans don’t really support taxation at any level. Of course, none will go on the record saying that they favor abolition of all taxation; they just support every single tax cut and oppose every single tax increase. I have not heard any Republican in recent years acknowledge that the deficit results in any way from lower revenues; rather, they say, the deficit is caused only by excessive spending on everything except the military. Implicitly, therefore, the only kind of taxation a Republican can support is voluntary taxation.

Extreme libertarians, such as the novelist Ayn Rand, have long held that this is the only legitimate form of taxation. As she wrote in a 1964 essay reprinted in her book “The Virtue of Selfishness”:

In a fully free society, taxation – or, to be exact, payment for government services – would be voluntary. Since the proper services of a government – the police, the armed forces, the law courts – are demonstrably needed by individual citizens and affect their interests directly, the citizens would (and should) be willing to pay for such services, as they pay for insurance.

As we know, the Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul D. Ryan has expressed admiration for Rand’s views, and many Republicans in Congress, influenced by the Tea Party movement, support abolition of important government programs along with more tax cuts for the rich.

Interestingly, there actually are instances of voluntary taxation. The New York Times reports that the mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, once asked his citizens to voluntarily pay more taxes and 63,000 of them did. The Times has also reported that cities now often ask tax-exempt organizations to make voluntary payments in lieu of taxes and are turning to parents groups to fill holes in school funding and to community groups to take over park maintenance and other tasks.

Other examples of voluntary methods of financing governmental services include the bond drives of World War II, lotteries, tontines and political campaign contributions. Public universities often solicit private funds to pay for new buildings or programs and remittances by migrants living abroad are a kind of private foreign aid. And of course private charities often engage in social welfare, as well as providing facilities like hospitals and museums (some of which are also provided by government).

While there is no doubt that there are creative methods by which local governments might be able to raise additional revenue and encourage the private sector to take over some of their responsibilities, there is little, if any, scope for this by the federal government. Too much of what it does falls into the category of pure public goods that government must provide, like national defense, or entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Realistically, voluntary taxation is not a viable alternative to broad-based taxes. Those who oppose raising taxes on the wealthy and are concerned about the number of people exempt from federal income taxes ought to consider a national sales tax, as every other major country has. As Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 21, one virtue of consumption taxes is that they are to some extent voluntary.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/republicans-champion-voluntary-taxes/?partner=rss&emc=rss