Dawn Eyes Facebook for Cause Marketing

Procter & Gamble’s Dawn brand is cozying up to social media to drive awareness of wildlife conservation and cultivate an online community of followers.

The dish care brand has been linked to wildlife rescue and animal rehabilitation care throughout its 36-year history, but, in a first for the brand, Dawn is actually running limited edition store packaging that asks consumers to help by purchasing a bottle of Dawn.

The special edition Dawn bottles are easily denoted by visuals featuring a duck, seal or penguin. For every bottle purchased, P&G will donate $1, or a total of up to $500,000, to the Marine Mammal Center and the International Bird Rescue Research Center. A 13.5-oz. bottle sells for $3.25 and consumers must activate their donation online at Dawnsaveswildlife.com by entering a special batch code located on the bottle.

Though the program runs through October, P&G is betting on the online component to drive continual awareness for the brand. Dawnsaveswildlife.com links to a Facebook page, dubbed “Everyday Wildlife Champions.” The page urges consumers to “Start your wildlife mission here. Get involved, become an Everyday Wildlife Champion! See how your actions—big and small—can help save, preserve and promote the appreciation of wildlife.” The Dawn logo appears below the fold. Kaplan Thaler is the lead ad agency.

P&G home care rep Susan Baba said the level of minimal branding was intentional. “One of our top take-home lessons is to keep the line between branding and cause clear. While Dawn is the driving factor behind the program’s success, it is ultimately the passion for wildlife conservation that drives the consumer. It’s important for brands to view these programs as organic, with momentum built by consumer passion,” she said. Baba added that Dawn is looking to position its microsite as “the authoritative Facebook page for environmental cause, support and discussion forum.”

As of today, Dawn’s Everyday Wildlife Champions site has 5,746 fans on Facebook, and P&G has already donated $17, 423 towards the cause. With less than two months to go, the dish care brand will be conducting short lead and online reach in the next few weeks to generate additional support. It is also running television spots, via the Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, which show the brand’s tough, yet gentle, cleansing action at work on the feathers of endangered animals.

Back in 2006, the brand kicked off an online effort that asked consumers to build a “digital flock” to express their wildlife passion. With Everyday Wildlife Champions, however, Dawn wanted to extend its reach with a social networking site that has millions of users worldwide. Baba said Facebook was a logical fit.

David Reis, president and CEO of marketing agency DEI Worldwide, said while cause marketing campaigns tend to “reenergize” consumer loyalty in a brand, marketers must be careful in how they go about it. “Fundamentally, cause marketing always has a plus side in that it delivers money to a charity or some other worthy cause,” he said.  “On the flip side, once you have introduced your brand into the descriptor or copy of that cause you are inherently self-promoting, and the pure goodness is diluted.”

But despite some drawbacks, Reis said campaigns like Dawn’s allow a brand to “shamelessly self-promote,” and, if done under the right context, can deliver “plain old good ROI,” which is what every marketer wants.