National Parks Traveler shares his concerns about L. L. Bean's support of Acadia National Park. Not only does the L. L. Bean logo appear on park buses, but LLB recently announced a research fellowship program that will donate $125,000. While appreciative of the funding, Kurt asks: will parks like Acadia become billboards for their corporate donors?
I don't think so. Corporations--even less than altruistic ones--wouldn't want to partner with the parks in a way that would hurt their image. It wouldn't be good for business if people saw their support as not in the best interests of the parks. Besides, the National Park Service--even with their ever present need for money--wouldn't allow anything inappopriate for the same reason: wouldn't be good for business.
What types of positive, effective cause marketing programs could L. L. Bean adopt to help Acadia--and itself? Four came to mind:
- Start a festival or music event at or nearby Acadia that would celebrate the park and the need to preserve it. LLB could be the title sponsor and could charge an admission that, after expenses, would go to the park.
- Create a line of LLB products from which a portion of sales would go to Acadia. Maybe a line of camping or hiking equipment.
- Have a point of purchase program at LLB's busy stores that would raise money for and awareness about Acadia. Including a coupon that could be used at LLB another day would give shoppers an added incentive to donate.
- Sponsor the popular half and full marathons held at Acadia in October. These are two accepted, existing events to which LLB could easily link itself with no backlash.
Candidly, while L. L. Bean could do some things at the park to promote itself, the real opportunity is with its own catalog, web site and stores. They could reach a much larger audience--albeit mostly existing customers--and have more flexibility on cause marketing programs.
One final point: Who cares if L. L. Bean's name is on park buses? Think about it: the buses would probably have SOMEONE's name on them--park service, tour company, etc. Why not have the name of a company that is helping to keep the park open, safe and clean?
Hat tip: Philanthropybeat