Is Community Service the New Green?


This week, Scholastic Media is joining the community service crowd by launching Clifford the Big Red Dog’s “Be Big!” campaign and the “Be Big Fund.” The program invites people to spread the word about Clifford’s 10 big ideas which include sharing, helping others and working together. Scholastic, in conjunction with the Points of Light Institute and the HandsOnNetwork, will work to implement large-scale volunteer programs later in the year.

“The national tone of volunteerism makes the campaign all the more relevant,” said Daisy Kline, dir., marketing for Scholastic Media. President Obama’s focus on community service “makes it timely, but [Be Big!] has been in development long before he was talking about volunteerism. This is a natural extension for the Clifford brand. It is not opportunistic at all.”

National print, outdoor and online ads will tell people “It only takes a little…to be big.” For every online Clifford Valentine’s Day card sent from, $1 will be donated to the Be Big Fund.

FAO Schwartz is also onboard, promoting the cause in its stores as well as its boutiques at Macy’s stores nationwide. Ten percent of the proceeds from certain Clifford items will also go to the fund. In the fall, Scholastic will follow up with a PSA campaign about the effort.

Perhaps no community service push received more attention of late than Starbucks “I’m in” push which also involved the HandsOnNetwork. Consumers who pledged five hours of community service, between Jan. 21 and Jan. 25, received a free coffee. More than 1.3 million hours of service were pledged.

Amid all of Starbucks bad news about layoffs and store closings, the effort gave Starbucks something to rally around. “In today’s economy, we need to remind customers why they love Starbucks; it’s more than just the best cup of coffee they can get, it’s about being a part of something bigger than them, and that’s exactly what this campaign did,” said Starbucks Coffee Company rep Vivek Varma. “I was blown away by the response to our ‘I’m in’ campaign and proud of the statement we made as a company about how committed to our communities we are.”

Community service has a bigger impact  than green messaging “because there is cause and effect,” said Sinek. “Green is too intellectual. Community service is in your backyard. It directly impacts your life. It happens immediately—not 50 years later in the ozone layer.”