Will Walgreens win customers with Red Nose Day?

Discussion
May 13, 2015

Red Nose Day, a charity promotion launched in the U.K. in 1988, will for this first time this year also be happening in the U.S. Red Nose Day, which brings awareness and money to children’s charities, is making its U.S. debut as the result of a partnership between the U.K.-based charity Comic Relief (not affiliated with the U.S. charity of the same name), such big-names as M&Ms and NBC, as well as Walgreens, which has acted as the brick-and-mortar face of Red Nose Day.

As a part of the promotion, customers have for the past few weeks been able to find $1 red clown noses for purchase at the checkout of Walgreens. Proceeds from the sale of the noses go to charities that deal with child poverty.

There has been a strong social media element to Red Nose Day’s introduction to the U.S., with Walgreens encouraging customers to take pictures of themselves wearing the clown noses and tweet or Instagram the pictures with the hashtag #RedNose. The Walgreens website reported that 10,417 images had been tweeted using the hashtag. A YouTube video marking the kickoff of the promotion shows what appears to be an actual customer in Walgreens being serenaded in an over-the-top flash mob-style song-and dance routine by amateur actors upon her buying the first nose of the promotion sold in the U.S.

Red Nose Day, Walgreens

Source: walgreens.com

Beyond the social sphere, the companies involved appear to have spared no expense in trying to make Red Nose Day catch on stateside. Celebrities like Heidi Klum have been pictured wearing red noses, as have the entire cast of the NBC Today Show. Today Show host Matt Lauer has also signed on to do a charity bike ride from Boston to New York as part of the promotion. The media ramp-up will culminate with a three-hour star-studded entertainment show on May 21st on NBC, featuring comedy written in conjunction with popular sketch comedy website Funny or Die.

Linn Jordan, marketing director of cause marketing at Walgreens, indicated in an interview with Ad Age that the spirit of levity surrounding Red Nose Day is on-brand with the company’s image.

"It was one meeting. … It was such a natural fit for us, we made the decision that day," said Ms. Jordan of being approached by Comic Relief U.K. to take part in Red Nose Day. "It allows us to play into the happy side of happy and healthy, and have fun with the cause."

What makes the difference between cause marketing events that work and those that do not? Will Walgreens benefit long-term from its association with Red Nose Day?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"In a word — ego. In a second word — celebrity."
"Noise is the difference. Making noise across the right comm channels at the right time. Noise (not nose) of the same tone and length is what makes marketing work. For the USA, major TV channels is also key. Our country suffers from lower education grades due to more TV."
"The celebrity and entertainment factor involved in Red Nose Day will certainly aid in its success, but I think the benefits for Walgreens will be limited. While charitable contributions will help increase appeal, a short term event like this will not be remembered by shoppers for very long."

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9 Comments on "Will Walgreens win customers with Red Nose Day?"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
7 years 7 days ago
In a word — ego. In a second word — celebrity. In a society where a frighteningly high percentage of the population appears to believe that my life will be significantly enriched if I am perpetually exposed to photos of what they ate for lunch, you can get people to do almost anything for almost any reason, provided they can post the photographic results on Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook. Dump ice water on my head? Sure! Say, what was that cause again? Wear a clown nose in public? Can’t wait to challenge three of my “Friends.” Of course, if you want to jump start the process of lemming-like sign-ups to do good, all you have to do is have a “celebrity” model the behavior. I mean who doesn’t want to do something inherently dumb for a noble cause, especially when someone like Justin Bieber did it first? As to whether Walgreens will benefit or not, just let me say this isn’t about them — it’s all about ME!, ME! ME! Who cares if they benefit? I… Read more »
Laura Davis-Taylor
Guest
Laura Davis-Taylor
7 years 7 days ago

I was in the store this past weekend and saw a box of red noses sitting off to the side at the cosmetics help counter. As any good retail strategy person would do, I looked for “the story” on what those noses were about. No signage, hard-to-read copy on the box they were sitting in and a few words on the item shrink wrap. I didn’t get it at all until I read today’s post.

The lesson? Activate something like this the right way and commit to it or don’t do it at all.

Roger Saunders
Guest
7 years 7 days ago

The difference does not vary from the key principles behind any other well-designed program. To pull associates and customers into these programs, the program has to: 1. Be consistent with the company’s objective (the effort has to be seen as being genuine) 2. Be easy to understand 3. Be easy to administer 4. Get people excited and drive them to accomplish/participate in a cause and 5. Show people results and put blood in their mouth, or a nose on their face, to continue to be proactive.

Kudos to Walgreens for taking a positive step in supporting this health-driven cause. Bravo!

George Anderson
Guest
7 years 7 days ago

To Laura’s point: I recently walked into a Walgreens to find associates in the store with their red noses on. If you’re going to support a cause, go all in or don’t go in at all.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
7 years 7 days ago

I have seen the commercials a number of times and it took several times to figure out that it was Walgreens, and I never did figure out what charity it was supporting. I am looking forward to seeing people with the red noses, but I am not sure people will associate it with Walgreens or a particular charity. If short-term association is not established, there will not be any long-term impact.

Jeff Hall
Guest
7 years 7 days ago

In asking around our office, the consensus is there’s currently a disconnect between the media advertising (generally high level awareness) and the purpose. Many recall seeing an advertisement with folks wearing red noses, but don’t understand why and/or that there’s a charitable connection to the campaign.

This is the crux of what makes cause marketing successful in a broader or lasting manner: Consumers need to 1) understand the cause and 2) care about the cause. In this case, I don’t see Walgreens realizing a long-term benefit.

Perhaps after this campaign has seeded after a year or two, it will take hold.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
7 years 7 days ago

The red noses have been available and encouraged and sold in my local Walgreens for almost a month so far. There are signs and the red nose-wearing cashier has never failed to ask if I want to buy one on each of the 6 or 7 trips I’ve made there recently. (One nose is enough, thank you.) I’m kind of thinking the red noses need to be limited to a shorter time period to make them more interesting and precious and something to look forward to—rather than allowing them to become annoying to customers.

Tom Redd
Guest
7 years 7 days ago

Noise is the difference. Making noise across the right comm channels at the right time. Noise (not nose) of the same tone and length is what makes marketing work.

For the USA, major TV channels is also key. Our country suffers from lower education grades due to more TV. So use that channel.

Smart countries, higher GPAs have less TV and thus the social element is the channel for noise in those areas.

This effort will work. Heck the big end of the program is on TV!

Be smart—don’t watch it. Read RetailWire instead!

Zel Bianco
Guest
7 years 7 days ago

The celebrity and entertainment factor involved in Red Nose Day will certainly aid in its success, but I think the benefits for Walgreens will be limited. While charitable contributions will help increase appeal, a short term event like this will not be remembered by shoppers for very long.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"In a word — ego. In a second word — celebrity."
"Noise is the difference. Making noise across the right comm channels at the right time. Noise (not nose) of the same tone and length is what makes marketing work. For the USA, major TV channels is also key. Our country suffers from lower education grades due to more TV."
"The celebrity and entertainment factor involved in Red Nose Day will certainly aid in its success, but I think the benefits for Walgreens will be limited. While charitable contributions will help increase appeal, a short term event like this will not be remembered by shoppers for very long."

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