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Notre Dame Marketing Dept. honors ethical ad campaigns with 2010 EthicMark Awards

by Carol Elliott

November 19, 2010

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In just over eight minutes, viewers gain a quick education about how bottled water became a product success and environmental scourge all at once during the video, “The Story of Bottled Water.” This campaign was developed by the Free Range Studios for The Story of Stuff Project, headquartered in Berkeley, Calif. For its effective messaging through simple facts and graphics, the “bottled water” marketing campaign was awarded the 2010 EthicMark® Award, which recognizes outstanding marketing, advertising, and public relations campaigns and communications designed to uplift the human spirit and society.

The annual award is bestowed by the Notre Dame Department of Marketing in the Mendoza College of Business, Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil) and the World Business Academy.

“Advertising has tremendous power to shape social attitudes and values,” said Patrick E. Murphy, Notre Dame marketing professor. “Although the public doesn’t typically think of marketing in this way, it can serve as a tool to empower individuals and society to find solutions to the pressing social, political, and environmental challenges of our times. The annual EthicMark Award recognizes ethical and socially responsible media campaigns by businesses, non-profit organizations, or individuals, who have undertaken this challenge.”

Nominations for the award are made by marketing agencies nationwide, from cities including Chicago, Denver, New York, Seattle and others. Members of the EthicMark Advisory Council, who served as judges, evaluated the entries based on criteria such as whether they exhibit respect for consumers as intelligent decision makers, uphold the diversity of cultural and religious values, portray and support healthy lifestyles, and uplift the human community.

The entries for the 2010 award ranged from a campaign aimed at helping improve the lives of children in foster care, to an effort to get teens not to smoke, to a project that tells the life stories of shelter dogs in an effort to increase adoption. The marketing campaigns took a variety of formats, including print, radio, TV, digital and billboards.

The winning entry – “The Story of Bottled Water” – intended to demonstrate how bottled water causes extensive amounts of environmental waste, and how the market grew by misleading consumers about the safety of tap water. The digital marketing campaign is one of several controversial topics including electronics, cosmetics and cap and trade created for The Story of Stuff Project by Free Range Studios.

Honorable mentions for the 2010 EthicMark® Award include “We Can Help Us” and “Shocking Barack.” “We Can Help Us” aims to prevent teen suicides by communicating with them before they reach a breaking point. Designed by DDB New York for AdCouncil, “Help Us” is a socially based campaign to augment the presence and reach of the organization REACH OUT in the US, a group that uses the Internet to provide information to teens and young adults an anonymous, non-threatening and non-judgmental space with a direct linkage to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“Shocking Barack,” by Crispin Porter+Bogusky, promotes the electricity-powered motorcycle Enertia, made by Brammo. Two Brammo employees rode Enertia Electric Powercycles from Detroit to Washington, D.C., retracing the infamous route taken by the Big Three automotive CEOs when they appeared before Congress to ask for funding in November 2008. The trip cost roughly $5 in electricity on the Enertia cycles, compared to $12,000 per person via private planes. Once they arrived, their plan was to present President Obama with a “homegrown” solution to the energy crisis. The campaign involved extensive use of digital and social media in order to allow online viewers to contribute.