March 30, 2012; Source: New York Times

A new campaign, Outnumber Hunger, continues a longstanding relationship between General Mills and Feeding America. In the new venture, General Mills will donate up to $1.4 million beyond their initial contribution of $700,000 based upon consumers entering codes from their products into a website. Consumers have the option of directing money to the national network of Feeding America or to local food banks by entering their zip code.

What’s new in this campaign is the participation of Big Machine Label Group, which owns three country labels. Country crooners, including Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire, and Martina McBride, will appear on more than 60 million packages of General Mills products and have committed to help raise awareness about hunger and the campaign. The packaging and website features the slogan, “It takes a Big Machine to Outnumber Hunger.”

As noted by the New York Times, this campaign is well designed. First, by involving consumers in the process, Feeding America and local food banks reap additional benefits beyond what would be generated through a buy-and-donate campaign, where a donation is linked simply to buying behavior. Consumers are exposed to more information about hunger and Feeding America through the process. For example, they are told that $0.65 can buy five meals at a local food bank and that one in six Americans struggle with hunger. Further, small actions—like entering a code to “donate” money to the cause—have been shown to result in more permanent attitude shifts than just campaign exposure alone.

Second, the campaign is well focused on a single market segment important to General Mills and country music: moms. Women represent the primary decision makers when it comes to household discretionary spending, including grocery spending, and are a target of country music marketers that often focus on the family-friendliness of the genre. Cone research suggests that moms are especially likely to buy products they believe are supporting an important cause. In sum, although the benefits are different, this campaign appears to benefit all parties involved. – Michelle Shumate