That’s right. Arkansas. My friends from LA and the east coast keep texting me pictures of overalls and jokes about banjos (deliverance). It’s funny. It’s fine. I’d do the same thing if the tables were turned.
So, why Arkansas? It’s pretty simple actually.
For the last few months that I was in LA, I was talking with a friend, Ben, about Pure Charity and their upcoming launch. Pure Charity is an awesome organization. They work with lots of grassroots nonprofits around the world that are dedicated to making a direct impact in their communities. They connect people (like you and me) to these causes and provide a platform to support and fund projects through everyday activities like buying clothes or booking a flight online.
Ben has done a lot of their design (he’s ridiculously talented) and he is friends with the founder. I had a lot of ideas for their digital marketing and he wanted to put me in touch directly. One thing lead to another and before long there was a job offer on the table. The only catch… the job was located in Northwest Arkansas.
Let me back up a bit. When I was in college I boycotted Starbucks. Why? Because they are one of the world’s largest coffee suppliers and, henceforth, a big player in an industry responsible for modern day slavery and exploitation of workers around the globe.
I was a social and cultural anthropology major. When you are spending your days writing papers for classes like “Global Problems” and reading books like “The Earth Then Shall Weep,” it’s hard to avoid the fact that there are atrocities being committed so that Americans can enjoy a good cup of coffee or buy cheap clothes.
I became slightly militant about human rights and social justice issues. I wouldn’t buy clothes form a normal supply chain. I wouldn’t drink coffee from a big brand. I got fired up by music from bands like Rage Against The Machine and I attended events to raise awareness about issues that matter.
Then one day while I was writing a term paper for my “Global Problems” class, I learned about Fair Trade. Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. Basically if you buy anything with the Fair Trade logo on it, you can rest assured that the people who produced it were paid a living wage. You sit back, sip your coffee, and take pride in the fact that you, good citizen, are helping a create a better world for everyone. How do you take your latte? With an extra shot global awareness and a side of satisfaction thankyouverymuch.
The first time I saw that logo on a bag of starbucks coffee, I couldn’t believe it. I immediately purchased the bag of beans and I’ve been buying and enjoying fair trade starbucks for years since. That logo is what got me back in the door. That, my friends, is Cause Marketing.
Cause marketing is a type of marketing that joins efforts of a “for profit” business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. It is just what it sounds like. It is pairing a cause with a product. If there are 2 bags of coffee next to each other on the shelf and they are the same quality and same price, I’ll grab the fair trade bag. Every time. I’ll even pay more for it if I have to.
People will not stop buying coffee. Americans will not stop buying cheap clothes. They just won’t. Big brands will not stop selling these things. They just won’t.
“Every dollar you spend is a vote for the kind of world you want.” I’m sure you’ve heard that. It’s a basic truth in a capitalist economy.
Rather than boycott big brands and take your voting dollars out of the system, why not cast your votes for something that you support? Why not buy fair trade? Why not buy a product that aligns with your values? Your purchase will communicate your message to brands for you. It’s simple supply and demand. If you will buy it, brands WILL produce it.
It’s a different approach. Positivity vs. negativity. Engaging vs. boycotting. A brand will do just about anything they have to in order to keep you engaged.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against boycotts and strikes. I love the passion. The conviction resonates very deeply with me. I’m a big fan of anything that advances human rights and social justice. These types of actions can be very effective at raising awareness. That said, they are not for everyone, and they are not a total solution. We need to have a solution.
Pure Charity is engaging. We are building partnerships with lots and lots of big brands. We are offering them a way to connect with consumers who care. We are offering them a chance to do what they do while making a positive impact on the world. We are offering consumers a way be involved and tangibly experience this positive impact–without having to drastically change their shopping behaviors. It’s incredible and it’s exciting.
So yes, I moved to Arkansas. Once I understood it, there was no way I was going to turn down a chance to be a part of this. The people at Pure Charity are awesome. They are kind and passionate about what they are doing. They all genuinely love going to work in the morning. And NW Arkansas is not quite what I pictured. It is VERY nice. We live in a house on a lake and it’s a super nice area. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m suffering for a cause