The Social Workout

'Your total comes to... Your Organ' says the cashier. :)

Social Marketing Feature:The Exchange-Give Life,Get Fashion

Imagine entering a store with fashionably items that you would love for yourself and when asked how much is it they said, 'Oh only .. Your organs to save 7 lives' ?? Wouldn't you be a bit puzzled to know why not cash, and how would they get your organ in time for you to wear the jacket tonight to your function? So many questions I would ask but once the store clerk explains everything, you would be grateful to 'purchase' the item.

And that's what 'The Exchange' is about; changing the currency of consumerism.

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The Warm Up- Campaign Background

The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness about organ donation in South Africa by using the focus of consumerism (that is seen as negative in society) to save lives through 'purchasing' clothes by signing up as an organ donor. The development of this strategy came up from research results that was conducted by the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa that is desperately seeking donors because less than 1% of South Africans are organ donors. In countries like Austria and Hungary, there is a law that supports organ donation, whereas the citizens are opt in to donate their organs after death by default (see link for more info: https://sparq.stanford.edu/solutions/opt-out-policies-increase-organ-donation).Unfortunately, South Africa does not have this in their law policy and so foundations have to find ways to raise attention to a society where popular culture and fashion is seen as maybe ...more important than lives?

Consumerism is a form of attachment to materialistic values and possession. The foundation used this negative term to prove that fashion can actually save lives.

They used the negative belief of consumerism and reversed it to attract that type of target audience who loves shopping and fashion craze to 'buy' these items by signing up to be an organ donor and to show persons who are against their action that they too are interested in saving lives while benefitting too. The ODF's agency used a pop-up boutique in Cape Town's most popular shopping mall to 'sell' the items as well as printed special ads and posters to capture the audience and social media to promote the campaign by showing the donor's pledge and a photograph of them with their item on different social media. The campaign lasted for a month and under 4 weeks they received 628% of fan engagement and earned 450,000 euros in free PR. In addition to that, they got excellent support by selling 759 items and saving 5313 lives.


Native VML is one of South Africa's leading full service digital marketing agencies that executed this campaign. The pop-up boutique was created on a tight budget using 2,000 euros from The Organ Donation foundation funds that was used for paints, rent and other materials. The agency used persons who are on the donor waiting list as models, online banners and targeted emails. Social Media brought great traffic to The Exchange because any donor who comes to 'purchase' an item is photographed and posted on all ODF's social media page. Despite the fact there were no paid-media for this campaign, The Exchange gained publicity from entertainment news, magazines, blogs and primetime news because of the buzz on social networks it created.

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Critical Review

Some may question if this is a social marketing campaign because there's no behavioural change but more of using an existing behaviour (consumerism) to the benefit of both sides; a new jacket for the consumer and an organ for someone in need. And you may be right, not entirely though. The campaign did use systematic planning to market the idea, focused on target audience segments and delivered a positive benefit to the society; for those are covered from the criteria of a social marketing campaign. But this can still be seen as a social marketing effort because if we are to look at Jay Bernhardt (2001) definition of the discipline in Social Marketing: Influencing Behaviours for Good by Nancy R. Lee and Philip Kotler explained that it is the systematic application of interactive marketing principles and techniques that harness audience participation to deliver value and achieve specific behavioural goals for a social good. A better definition from the same text that works perfectly with this campaign is from Rob Donovan (2011) is how social marketing is the application of commercial marketing principles and tools where the primary goal is the public good. Here, they used products (clothes) that would be appealing to the customers(potential organ donor) for to purchase the items ( by signing up to be a donor) that would benefit persons who need the help (public good).

Personally, the campaign had many strengths than weaknesses because of its originality and how integrated everything was. If you should look at the theme colours, red and white that are representations of organs and tissues which is the same colours on the tags, bags and the store. Persons love to shop, especially in developed societies and no other place to target their audience in the shopping mall where they also promoted the cause. Another strength I saw in this campaign was the easy sign up done electronically then used as a pledge to post on Facebook than the lengthy form on ODF's website. They created a distinctive packaging with 'Organs in Transit' on the bag that can be used to trigger the emotional side of consumers and to remind them about the unique shopping experience they had. Taking a photograph of the consumer and the product for example (like the pic above) 'Shop your Heart Out #TheExchange' is what helped created the buzz on social media which is one of the easiest communication channel to view results of viewership and participation. Adding to that, I can remember from a lecture with Dr.White, he explained how place and promotion from the Amazing 4 P's in Marketing can work together, as in, the place is where the augmented ( the service of signing up to be a donor) and the actual product which can also be seen as a benefit too (the clothes/item purchased) can be at the same place.Well how convenient that can be for the customer. This example was strategically done in the campaign.

Few weaknesses would be there were only ONE pop-up store. This could also be seen as a threat because not enough persons may not be able to visit that one store. The store being the only place to sign up to be an organ and tissue donor is a limitation as well, because maybe there are persons on social media who likes the idea and are not able to visit the store to use the simplified format of signing up.

Changing the currency of consumerism

Final Lap from the workout - Recommendations

Based on my observations and research, I would keep the entire concept of using consumerism at its advantage to promote organ donation, the pop up store, the low budget ideas of using social media to get in touch with other persons and possible future donors. The different creative and marketing strategies from packaging to designs on the materials and the communication channels that were effortlessly integrated to make the campaign look as one idea and delivering one message. The items from fashion designers were a great idea because it's helping both the designers' businesses of free media and the store to gain 'customers' and to create sustainability. I would change though, the fact there's only one store. I would may do pop-ups in different locations, such as outside in a 'must-see' location to cause curiosity and to may target secondary audiences who aren't necessarily shopping-fanatic but because of the store's unusual location and different approach would push persons to participate. This would cost more money though and would need more funding. Even a permanent shop would be excellent to have this Exchange done all the time and to not have persons wondering where next the store would be.
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This is an interesting and creative campaign. It is a bit close to when the blood bank is rooting persons to give blood, with it's pop up locations at schools and health centres where their audience would be. After trained counsellors would explain how much they're (participants) saving many persons by giving blood, they then mark their name on a cloth as a form of influence to do the action because it will be shown to everyone publicly that you supported a good cause. Many social marketers in non-profit organisations can use this campaign to undergo their strategy too.


I appreciate this campaign and ideas the Agency came up with. I hope one day.. some day.. it will come to Jamaica ?? Maybe soon? Lol. I would definitely participate and shop shop shop!


-Jolene Miller

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