When paper teaches

Even in the world of tissue, many schools follow the tracks of the profit version of social marketing and promote educational projects aimed at schools and communities, with the aim of sensitizing children and families on important themes such as culture or the environment, diffusing their own image and their product brands.

Paola Pellegrini 

Culture and health, nature and the eco-sustainable, energy and the environment are all themes that we frequently hear about and that we easily associate with "social" realities more than with the business world. Some of these themes are increasingly more often being treated also in the pages of the Perini Journal: green products, zero-impact technologies, low consumption cycles and alternative raw materials closely concern the world of tissue, too. Becoming a speaker in favor of these issues can constitute a business opportunity, if supported by a social marketing project.For this reason, many companies working in tissue elect to champion these themes - mainly focused on the themes of safeguarding the environment and health. Through projects structured at varying degrees, diffused and supported by different channels (often the web and social networks), they establish a relationship with a target that is an extension of the purchase target - yet as just as potentially valid and stimulating: school kids and children as well as the communities they relate with.

The multinational SCA, in the USA but also in Europe, and the Italian Cartiera Lucchese represent some examples of "reconnaissance" in a new territory like that of social marketing. By diffusing their corporate image or product brands, they entered this world a few years ago and developed ethical and environmental projects aimed at schools and communities.


IN 2007, SCA Tissue North America established a Prize fund each year for training in eco-sustainable projects. Since its creation 4 years ago, it has distributed almost 120,000 dollars for environmental education projects presented in the schools of 4 different states: Wisconsin, Alabama, Arizona and New York. The fourth edition is among the initiatives promoted by the company in honor of America Recycles Day in the US (November 15th, celebrated since 1997), and includes 14 institutes which include elementary, junior high and high schools.

The prize amounts are different based on what the winners have estimated for the realization of their project. Besides determining SCA's philosophy in the sustainable realm, this type of activity also allows the company to enhance its reputation by making the public aware of its commitment and of its "good" product. Through an alternative activity like the environmental prize, SCA updates the community on the green pluses of its brand, for whose production it recycles over 750,000 tons of paper each year - over 50% of which coming from post-consumer waste. SCA's commitment is also confirmed in the parallel informative activities it performs, whose speaker is the very same "green" product, like for example the Tork Green Hygiene Council (TGHC), born with the scope of improving global awareness of the most appropriate and sustainable hygiene practices, in order to ensure a greener, safer and cleaner world for all.


SCA HP Tissue EuropE, with its Tempo® brand, promotes structured events in Italy that have an educational/informative scope, connected to the product's characteristics and not only, and in this particular case, to the theme of health. Since we are speaking about a consumer product, the internet site, together with the most popular social networks, represents the ideal place for the birth and growth of this activity. A column called Handkerchief Etiquette contains advice on how to best handle that sudden sneeze and the subsequent often embarrassing need to blow one's nose. Then there are pieces of advice and home-made remedies to alleviate the symptoms of colds and sore throats, news on seasonal allergies; the little ones are also catered to by trying to turn into play the difficult first approaches to blow their noses. Interactivity and play, typical of the web, together with a simple but useful didactic. In this case, too, schools are involved. For 3 years now, Tempo® (with the kids‘ line) has been promoting educational projects for schools on themes that concern nature. In 2008, the "Sposta il banco arriva l'orso bianco" project made children better acquainted with the habitat of many animals. In the two subsequent years, "È tempo di Natura" and "Eco... Fatto!" brought kids closer to nature and to eco-sustainability by allowing them to get involved in the themes of climate and vegetation and that of waste and waste sorting.


With Grazie, a brand belonging to their eco-friendly product line, Cartiera Lucchese - always synonymous of respect for the environment - and the initiative "Grazie EcoLucart aiuta la tua scuola", that this year has reached its 4th edition, constitutes another important example. The Premio Scuola school award was an optimal starting point for the journey along the social road of marketing to make this year's project a concrete reality. For its support and completion, a recreational-didactic course has been created on environmental themes and on paper recycling, with the intent of stimulating discussion and reflection on the 3Rs: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce - essential basics in order to actively contribute to safeguarding our planet. To the award's creative and gratifying formula - the winner receives a supply of Grazie Lucart products for his or her school - a didactic course has been added, theoretical classroom activities, interactive ones based on the web and practical experiences on the topic of ecology, recycling and waste sorting, as well as on resource savings, the environmental impact as it pertains to one's own lifestyle, and correct daily habits. The Italian brand that "doesn't cut down trees" and Albert, its mascot, speak to kids about environmental and ecological issues and allow them to get to know the Lucart product and to appreciate the whole-someness of the Grazie line - perfect name for a product to which also the environment is grateful! (See PJL n. 26). "... Grazie Lucart has everything it takes to become your favorite paper."


Besides the evident pedagogic objective of these marketing activities, we can also detect companies' promotional and commercial goal. Civic education aimed at "the little ones", the sense of duty and respect, basic rules for community living and for the creation of an ethical conscience represent the basis for diffusing a culture and teaching a given message or behavior, in order to then arrive at the product, its values and strong points.

This type of project is defined Edutainment (education + entertainment) because it unites the educational aspect with the entertaining and promotional one, developing didactic activities and alternative forms of communication and "entertainment" that allow the company to pursue an educational scope by teaching something that applies to it, something it becomes a speaker for.

The educational aspect of these modern activities finds its origins in the social campaigns, and the innovative and interactive instruments of communication like internet well espouse this type of strategy, incrementing their efficacy even more.

Through a commercial subject, important themes (the "education" aspect of the projects), enter the classroom in a new, fun and practical way ("entertainment") allowing kids to learn in a different manner and to acquire good behavior rules for what concerns themselves, others and nature.


Behind these initiatives there are articulated and structured plans. Schools - one of the most important social educational institutions - become the special "information and diffusion channel" of these marketing mixes. It is the concrete lieu where the activity itself takes place, but it's also a lot more. The members of the scholastic community also represent the main target, particularly children and adolescents but also their families and the communities. "Social conscience starts in schools", states d&f, a communications agency from Bologna specialized in Edutainment activities. "Edutainment communication campaigns are the result of different multi-disciplinary competencies matured in several realms of communication, and the educational vocation of this type of activity originates from the experience acquired in the creation and management of fundraising and social communication campaigns." (For further information www.def.it).


Environmental and cultural themes, traditional didactic activities, new instruments of communication and interaction are the ingredients of the edutainment projects of social marketing that we have presented here. In-line with the constructive message connected to the reputation of the promoting subjects, strengthen their identity by enhancing knowledge and consolidate their image through the loyalty of their consumers.




Social marketing.

A concept introduced at the beginning of the 1970s by Philip Kotler - undisputed guru in this realm - in his book "Social marketing: an approach to planned social change" (Journal of Marketing, 1971 Kotler P., Zaltman G.), whose roots are the same as the many different disciplines where economic marketing also develops. Psychology, sociology, anthropology, economic theories and clearly also communication, contribute to examining and understanding what can determine human behavior by detecting the environmental, social and individual factors that influence it in different ways in order to be able to manipulate it. Despite the use of common principles and techniques, they are deeply different in their values and purposes. The analyzed behavior that we are trying to modify in social marketing is not "the decision and the purchasing choice". If in "normal" marketing, the objective is an economic advantage for the seller, the most practical application of social marketing does not become concrete on store shelves or between the lines of company balance sheets, but rather it poses for itself the role of influencing the target so that it accepts, modifies or abandons a certain behavior voluntarily in order to obtain a "social" benefit, i.e., an advantage for the entire community! Thanks to the integrated use of the classical marketing levers (1), the intent is to create concrete opportunities so that individuals may address themselves towards a responsible and conscious choice, developing behaviors favorable for the safeguard of physical, psychological and social wellbeing. The plan is to bring changes to society in order to improve the quality of the life of each individual by influencing other behavior - the choice of one good over another - in order to obtain another "Good" - Influencing Behaviors for Good (2) - having a more important conceptual value!

Ambitious concepts, easily understandable if connected to a non-profit organization and to realities closer also to profit subjects, who put them into practice in order to create a context that is favorable to the promotion of social benefits, integrating such an objective in the wider company project without identifying it as the only scope. Speaking about social themes such as health or the environment, often it is not only necessary to suggest a certain behavior, but rather to transmit a cultural or educational concept. For this reason, it may theoretically be more difficult to influence the reference target. Civic education, shared rules of behavior, principles and behaviors defined as conventionally correct should be innate, thanks to a minimum sense of duty, but often they must be repeated or even taught from scratch. Profit agencies can hence create "social" programs that, by suggesting a given "culture", for example in regards to the environment or to food, obtain an additional result that is more closely connected to their business. The educational aspect is divided into two parts: the more strictly "social" one and the "company" one. On the one hand, a socially useful result; on the other, the product or the brand, their knowledge, reputation and awareness. The purpose of these types of campaigns is to diffuse the culture of the product - generally a "good" product - starting from brand essence and from specific company know-how, illustrating its mission and vision, in order to then proceed towards the "social" theme of which the brand is speaker.


Social communication.

The concept of social marketing perfectly espouses those of education and communication. Recourse to communication with the intent to suggest or generate "healthy" behaviors is defined as "social communication"- an activity that would be reductive to identify with the wider concept of social marketing which, by often facing serious themes and issues, uses all the techniques of marketing.


Company reputation

The reputation of a given subject (whether this subject be a person, an institution, a company...) is the consideration or the esteem that the subject enjoys in society. Differently from "esteem", the term reputation has a neutral valence, i.e., one can have a good or a bad reputation (be esteemed or not). Specifically, the company reputation is the overall esteem that an organization enjoys from its internal and external stakeholders, whether they be employees or suppliers, collaborators or shareholders, up to the community where the company is located, on the basis of its behavior, its choices and opinions that determine the credibility that it can have in society. The new frontier in the management of a company's intangible value is given by its reputation and, following new means of "open" communication available, we have seen that it is not always to keep it under control. (See PJL n. 34 "A Reputa-tion on the Web").


Brand reputation.

Similar to the company reputation, it involves consumers more directly and hence concerns their opinion in regards to products belonging to the range. Extremely important for the purposes of sales, this, too, must be monitored daily and through communication strategies capable of involving the audience - see the use of the web or interactive activities - the opportunity for an effective dialogue is created, with the aim of making the users protagonists in the creation and consolidation of its reputation and of the value of the brand.


Brand Essence.

The essence of the brand is the nucleus of its identity. It is comprised of the interaction between the strategic personality attributed by the company and its positioning in the mind of the consumer. It is its existential philosophy, its style of behavior on the market in-line with its own objective characteristics but also with the position that it "takes on" regarding themes that are outside the market sphere.


(1)- The 4Ps or the newer 4Cs are the MKTG levers from the point of view if the company and of the customer: Product/Customer Value, Price/Customer Costs, Promotion/Customer Communications, Pint of Sale/Customer Convenient.

(2)- Subtitle of the 3rd edition of the same volume: Social Marketing: Influencing Behaviors for Good - Kotler P. Lee N. The term "Good" is metaphorically intended as something more than the mere object for purchasing.

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