Award Winning Advertising for Burt’s Bees Makes CSR Cool

Burt’s Bees started off as a company that uses all natural, organic products and has long been identified as a company with roots in sustainability. In 2007 the company was purchased by Clorox for $925 million. They have since expanded into new markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Within America, they have been adding more retail outlets and Burt’s Bees is the fastest-growing division within Clorox. As with any small company that has been taken over by a larger corporate, Burt’s has had its own image crises to deal with especially when it comes to its CSR activities.

They have therefore joined hands with Baldwin&, a small advertising company, to deal with its image problem. Baldwin& was up to the challenge and developed an ad campaign that not only moved more product, it also solidified the company’s green image (despite the conglomerate ownership). The advertising world also swooned and the the campaign called “Find your Burt” won campaign of the year at the Ad Age Small Agency Awards. 

The campaign centered around Burt Shavitz, the founder of Burt’s Bees. Shavitz lived completely off the grid in a turkey coop in Maine when the company was founded. “There was a general understanding that maybe there actually is someone named Burt, but we really wanted to drive that home,” said David Baldwin, co-founder and executive creative director of Baldwin&.

The goal of the campaign was to inspire consumers to be “more like Burt” in a whimsical, beard driven manner. Check out one of the TV campaigns here:

http://youtu.be/5XoM-3mID3Y

Alongside the print and television campaigns, Baldwin& put together live events to showcase Burt’s CSR ideals. Smoothies with the same ingredients found in Burt’s Bees products, made in a blender powered by a bicycle rider were created. Sampler packs, which included “beardanas” and lip balm were given away in New York and Los Angeles. “Find Your Burt” also had a website which was launched on Earth Day last year where users could upload pictures, get tested on how sustainable their lives were and find their ‘inner Burts.’

The ‘Find Your Burt’ campaign does a great job integrating CSR with the brand’s core values and showing them both to consumers in a non-threatening and appealing manner. According to the agency, the campaign resulted in more than 63 million PR impressions.

With growing fears of greenwashing in the industry, designing an ad campaign that speaks to the true values of the brand can get very difficult. Translating these values to generate the kind of PR storm that the Find Your Burt campaign generated is ever harder. There needs to be a degree of authenticity in order for stakeholders to respond in such a scale. Additionally, there has to be a perfect sync between the company, ad agency and ad campaign which is exactly what Burt’s Bees and Baldwin& seem to have achieved.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net