Do-Gooder Marketers Do the Soft Sell

NEW YORK The music video for Radiohead’s “All I Need” begins with slow, somber musical beats and a split screen revealing images of children. One side shows a child waking up, dressing for school and eating breakfast. The other, youngsters living in dingy conditions and toiling in a sweatshop.

The last shot pairs the one boy back from school removing his kicks with a boy assembling the last pieces of a strikingly similar sneaker in a factory. The tagline: “Some things cost more than you realize.”

“All I Need,” which debuted earlier this month on MTV properties worldwide, ends with an MTV logo. It was created for MTV Exit (End Exploitation and Trafficking), a multimedia initiative launched in Europe in 2004 by Viacom’s MTV Europe Foundation, an independent charity based in London. The effort includes the distribution of anti-human trafficking information at Radiohead’s concert tour in North America, Europe and Asia, which kicked off in West Palm Beach, Fla., this month.

MTV Exit — which recently expanded into Asia — also plans to release an animated film on human trafficking later this year, as well as produce other live events.

The network’s efforts illustrate the growing use of branded-entertainment as a way to distribute corporate-responsibility campaigns, which are geared to creating deeper relationships with do-gooder consumers. Other brands using this tactic include Boost Mobile, the Microsoft Network and Virgin Mobile USA.

“Content creates an emotional bond with the consumer. It [forges] a connection between the brand message … and the viewer in a way that a 30-second ad can’t do,” said Bill Hilary, president of Interpublic Group-owned Magna Global Entertainment.

Gayle Troberman, head of digital marketing at Microsoft’s consumer marketing group, added that social responsibility branded-entertainment marketing: “is going to be the next big wave of content and marketing investments.”

MSN has taken an innovative approach with its new Web portal — which launches next month