Bees -- those busy buzzing insects that help pollinate fully 1/3 of the all food on Earth -- are dwindling in number each year. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) has been a leading factor, and its origins are still unknown. Last May, Google recorded more than 2.5 million search queries about bees, and this year, the number is looking to be even higher. We, the people, are concerned.
It makes good sense, then, that in March 2016, Burt's Bees launched a cause-based marketing campaign -- riding the wave of growing consumer concern while bringing attention to a serious environmental problem.
Burt's has a record of being an eco-minded company, even after they sold to Clorox in 2007. Cause marketing, which is especially important to millennials, is a natural fit for the company. Taking on concern for bees is an obvious choice, given their name and product line. However, their marketing strategy has been unexpected and memorable.
"We decided to imagine a world without bees," explains Mariah Eckhardt, Group Manager, Integrated Communications. "We launched a new Bring Back The Bees campaign using a play on words and symbolically removing the letter 'B' from our products. We also created a landing page called "wild for bees" at www.urtsees.com, featuring our B-free logo on top." Burt's Bees has also promoted the hashtag #BringBackTheBees in their social media outreach campaign.
"The campaign, which runs through June 30th, 2016, has a mission of raising awareness of the continued decline of bees and other pollinators, and to rally fans of the brand to help fund plantings of bee-attracting wildflower patches near farmland in the U.S." explains Eckhardt. The company's goal is to plant one billion wildflowers. To participate, consumers purchase Limited Edition "_urt's _ees" Lip Balms, in one of three flavors that wouldn't exist without the help of pollinators: Pink Grapefruit, Wild Cherry and Coconut & Pear. Alternatively, participants can post a "b" less Instagram or Tweet a message that includes the hashtag #BringBackTheBees. For each purchase or social post, the Burt's Bees Foundation will plant 1,000 bee-sustaining wildflower seeds. Their goal is to plant 1 billion wildflowers nationally!
"Planting wildflower seeds provides bees and other pollinators with a diverse, nutritious food supply," said Paula Alexander, Burt's Bees Director of Sustainable Business & Innovation. "Our company recognizes that bees are crucial to both human and environmental health, impacting biodiversity, food security, nutrition and sustainable land use. We created the #BringBacktheBees campaign so make the situation clear to our customers. With the help of our fans, we aim to restore the natural habitat and resources that bees need to flourish."
According to the company, planting flowers is only part of the solution to the loss of bee populations. Contributing factors in their decline include climate and land use changes, the use of insecticides, and intensifying urbanization. However, diet does play a role, and food sources are something Burt's Bees fans can help with. "Bees, like humans, need a variety of nutrients to survive and prevent disease," Cruz explains. "Bees have lost so much of the habitat that they rely on for forage in the past few decades. Our preference for ornamental landscaping and large lawns is a big part of the problem. Pollen and nectar make up 100 percent of bee diets, and they need specific flower species for them to thrive. When they don't get the nutrients they need, they are more vulnerable to pests and pathogens. Planting those types of wildflowers can help restore the natural habitat that bees need to be healthy."
By raising awareness of the worrisome decline of these small but vital insects that inspired their brand, Burt's Bees hopes to create a patchwork of bee sanctuaries across the country, that anyone can add to by growing pollinator-friendly plants in their backyard, balcony or rooftop. To learn how to sow your own little slice of bee-heaven, visit fs.fed.us and search for "Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden Using Native Plants." When in doubt, simply "take a walk around and look at the flowers in your area," advises Marla Spivak, McKnight University Professor of Apiculture/Social Insects at the University of Minnesota. "If you see bees on certain flowers, plant those!"
Happily, Burt's Bees is at nearly 900 million wildflowers pledged which was driven by 888,000 consumer actions --either their purchase of a limited edition balm or use of the social networking program hashtag #BringBackTheBees.
With campaigns like this, everyone wins. The brand builds national good will, makes new sales, and makes a genuine impact for good. What could _e _etter than that?
UPDATE: The company hit their goal!