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Burt's Bees Abuzz Over Colony Collapse Disorder

We've partnered with AHA!, a creative communications firm, to deliver this series on CR communications. Throughout the series, we'll explore why your company's CR communications plan should go beyond the CSR report and give you tools to keep communication flowing all year long. Read the rest here.
Burt's Bees - the natural line of skincare products - proudly claims beeswax as a key ingredient. Beeswax is a natural ingredient with moisturizing and antiseptic attributes, and this core ingredient gives Burt's Bees a competitive advantage as well as a place in the sustainable business club.

Which is why it makes total sense that the brand should be concerned about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) - or disappearing bees. If the bees keep dying, Burt's key ingredient is going to get a lot more expensive.

Burt's latest ad campaign takes on CCD and reinforces the brand's unique ingredients in one go. "Wild for Bees" educates consumers on the importance of bees to pollination in clear and concise language. Then it delivers an amusing and educational series of videos about the role of different bees in the colony. The videos are produced by Isabella Rossellini (remember her line of bug porno videos?) and include her characteristic wit and high production value.


“At Burt’s Bees, we’ve always taken Colony Collapse Disorder and the health of the honeybees very seriously,” says Burt’s Bees Vice President of Customer Strategy and Marketing, Jim Geikie, “The opportunity to work with Isabella on this film project has given us the chance to shed light on this important issue in an incredibly artful and theatrical new way that I think viewers will really enjoy.”

One of the easiest - and most authentic - ways for a brand to show its sustainability cred is to align itself with a carefully chosen cause. However, the cause marketing strategy can backfire when it feels inauthentic to consumers. The cause must be aligned with the brand values, and the engagement must go beyond the superficial for the cause's good benefits to rub off on the brand. The "Wild for Bees" campaign makes that case clearly by reminding visitors that Burt is a bee man through-and-through.
Burt Shavitz, the epically bearded co-founder of Burt's Bees, was a beekeeper. His bees made the wax in our first Beeswax Lip Balm.

So bees aren't just in our name. They're part of our history, our culture and our future, too.

For starters, we offer our employees a stipend to learn how to become beekeepers (just like Burt), and we get our hands in the dirt as a group to support sustainable agriculture in the community surrounding our Durham, North Carolina, headquarters.

From a branding perspective this is a key addition as it makes the case for the cause campaign and further distinguishes the brand in one fell swoop. Not every brand has a unique and interesting founder like Burt, and the company is wise to capitalize on his background to distinguish the brand.

Finally, the campaign concludes with a call to action telling folks how they can get involved and help save the bees.

While Clorox purchased Burt's Bees in 2007, the brand continues to operate independently and maintains a solid reputation as a sustainable company. This reputation comes not only from its natural ingredients, but also its employee education program and waste reduction strategies.

Ad campaigns, like last year's "Be Like Burt," and this one, which focuses on the importance of bee health to the brand, only solidify that sustainability message.

Burt's Bees has hit the jackpot with this campaign by reinforcing its brand message and fighting to protect its key ingredient with one powerful message.

Jen Boynton headshotJen Boynton

Jen Boynton is the former Editor-in-Chief of TriplePundit. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and has helped organizations including SAP, PwC and Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. She is based in San Diego, California. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

Read more stories by Jen Boynton