NOV 8: Giving is Good Business Event

In today’s paper, a new “magazine” from Walgreens. It’s this-week’s-sales mixed with content. It’s brilliant. Leave it to Walgreens to take the drugstore wars up a notch.

As you flip through it learning about how certain chemicals in everyday products are damaging your kids’ brains and noticing that — Huh! Walgreen’s now offers a whole line of products without the chemicals that are damaging your kids’ brains! — you find yourself entertained, informed and with the very strong urge to go buy stuff at Walgreen’s. (I love custom publications.**)

(By the way, Austin’s GSD&M came up with the new tagline “At the corner of happy and healthy” from which the magazine’s title, “Happy and Healthy,” is derived.)


Then on the back cover… FEELING BETTER AND GIVING BACK

“Part of your purchase helps raise up to $3 million annually for the Walgreens Way to Well Fund, a program devoted to bringing wellness services to communities across the country.”

Great, right? Here’s an example of a business giving back; not just any business but one of Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” businesses.

(Okay, so only one cent — not PERcent — of each purchase goes to the Way to Well Fund. But considering it’s the largest drugstore chain in the country, that’s a lot of pennies.)

That THIS is what they choose to put on the back cover speaks volumes. They could have sold that space to one of their suppliers. They could have used it to run a bunch of coupons. After all, this came out in the Sunday paper.

But they used it to say something about their brand: WE GIVE BACK. WE CARE ABOUT PEOPLE.

Of course it was a marketing and branding decision. Coupons or a featured retailer or product-of-the-month would totally cheapen the magazine, and why ruin all that high-end, actionable content inside with a cheesy $1-off coupon for Pantene?

See, I understand this contradiction of genuine generosity and cause marketing. The more genuine it is, the more uncomfortable a business is about “bragging” about it. Still, I must get 10 press releases a week from businesses wanting me to write about how generous they are, so they want someone to know about their generosity. I’m very familiar with the trend for businesses to show a little heart to build customer loyalty. I make a magazine about philanthropy and it’s supported in part by ads from businesses that give back. Sheesh.


And yet, I totally fall for it.

In my neighborhood, there’s a CVS right across the street from Walgreens. Yet this magazine and, moreover, this Walgreens Way to Well program, make it an easy choice: Walgreens every time.

Just like I choose Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which raises thousands of dollars for local charities every month through its wristband program, over Starbucks, which raises nothing for local charities as far as I can tell. It’s why people buy TOMS shoes and Warby Parker glasses and just about anything pink… Because even if it is marketing, the good these companies are doing is real.


Oh yeah. It’s Thursday, Nov. 8, and it’s for anyone doing business in Austin and it’s free.

The point is, giving IS good business. And Austin businesses don’t have to figure this philanthropy stuff alone. Trust me, everyone in philanthropy right now would LOVE to have you.

Learn more and register for Giving is Good Business here.


**Custom publishing is the term for magazines that offer content geared toward a niche audience, sometimes mixed with advertisements for products and services specifically for that audience, and packaged in a way that builds an affinity for that brand. If you’ve ever received  a copy of Departures from American Express, American Way from American Airlines, Four Seasons Magazine, Whole Foods Market Magazine or LiveStrong Quarterly, for example, than you know what a custom publication is.  I am a student of custom pubs and fancy myself to be pretty good at them. In fact, I used to make one for Mobile Loaves & Fishes called “12 Baskets.”

P.S. I know, there’s a lot going on in this post.

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