Brands face mounting pressure to fulfill the role of social and corporate stewards. A range of statistics demonstrates the expectations of growing younger generations and their desire — and willingness to pay — for authentic, transparent and sustainable brands. The closer a cause stands to a brand’s product and the ideals it espouses, the better.
Country Time Lemonade has served as the official sponsor of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, the leading national childhood cancer nonprofit, for over a decade. The company has run a number of events, such as the Great American Stand-tacular, to fund annual donations totaling over one million dollars. The brand maintains an established role with its cause of choice; however, serendipitous circumstances presented Country Time with the perfect opportunity to further champion its beliefs and gain significant PR: Children across the United States were being fined for not having the proper permits to run their lemonade stands. The brand needed to act fast and identify the proper avenue to combat what Forbes termed ‘The War on Lemonade Stands.’
Kids shouldn’t need a legal team, but when they do, we’re here for them.
Country Time managers expressed surprise and distaste at the revelation that government officials were targeting children for their lack of official paperwork.
Children fined for their stands can have their parents submit an application for reimbursement to the official Country Time Legal-Ade website. The process is simple: Parents upload an image of the child's permit or fine to the aforementioned website, along with a description of what the lemonade stand means to the child in his or her own words. The Country Time team reviews each submission, and if it complies with the terms, the company will cover the permit fee or fine (up to $300). The company rounds out the campaign by promising that, for every retweet the Country Time Legal-Ade video receives, it will donate $1 (up to $500,000) to child entrepreneurship causes over the course of the next year.
The associated tweet received almost 100,000 likes, and the stunt has been covered by major national and industry publications, such as AdWeek, Food and Wine and Fox News. A small number of these incidents have been reported (30, as of 1983); however, this may change as the summer months approach and publicity for the stunt grows. The low-cost, high-reward nature of the efforts further demonstrates its potential as a PR opportunity.
What they said:
“Go ahead, kids. Run your lemonade stands. Country Time Legal-Ade is on your side and will protect you. When life hands you outdated laws, make lemonade and get Legal-Ade,” said the company in a statement.
Lessons to be learned:
- Keep your eyes and ears open. — According to Adam Butler, general manager for beverages and snack nuts for The Kraft Heinz Company, the team had stumbled across the incidents by accident. “We recently came across a story of a kid getting her lemonade stand shut down for legal reasons, which had to be an urban myth. After looking into it and seeing even more instances, we realized these weren’t myths; they were real stories.” The company was not on an active search for a cause to support, but by remaining open to and interested in the possibilities, it capitalized on a significant PR opportunity.
- Make it personal. — Children selling lemonade at a homemade lemonade stand serves as one of the quintessential images of summertime. Much like kids on bikes and outdoor adventures until dusk, the concept plays to a ubiquitous sense of nostalgia and collective memory. Most individuals have constructed their own stands [as children], have helped a child run his or hers or have purchased a 50 cent glass from a young neighborhood entrepreneur. Legal-Ade creates a connection with audiences through these universal touchpoints that everyone can understand.
The campaign maintains the additional advantage of personal stories. Consumers can conceptualize the direct benefit that Legal-Ade offers to those that it benefits, which adds an important element to the work. The breadth of many charitable causes makes it difficult to see this direct connection.
- Make the most of your money. — As more and more brands aim to find social causes to support in fulfillment of a growing expectation of corporate responsibility, Kraft Heinz stumbled upon the perfect opportunity to create an actionable difference. The unique nature of this niche cause allows Country Time to champion it in an ownable manner and position itself as the primary advocate for the issue.
- Tell an effective story. — Kraft Heinz published a press release on its website, detailing its actions and providing information to affected individuals. This fulfilled the necessary qualifications to garner the intended result — some press, publicity and a public ‘do goodery’ vibe — however, much of the charm comes from the hyperbolic video and stylized website. These imaginative elements add shareability and a robust finish to the campaign.
- Think ahead. — Big ideas are good, but long ideas are even better. The Country Time Legal-Ade campaign establishes an initial connection with these families, which could present a marketable opportunity at a later date. Additional follow-up on the individual stories allows Country Time to continue to use the material well into the late summer and early fall months.