Renegade Cause Marketing and the Boss Button

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I love it when entrepreneurs fly their freak flags.

I love it even more when they’re serving an amazing cause.

And I love it even morer (yeah, I know, it’s a made up word, we’ll both live) when they bake their marketing around their quirkiness.

Which is exactly what is doing this week with their “Shop From Work Week” promotion.

If you’ve never heard of Better World Books, they’re a super cool organization. In their words, they “collect and sell books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide.” They started as a teeny, group of friends and have now built into a sizable worldwide organization.

But that’s not what this post is about.

It’s about how instead of creating a staid, mainstream, stuffy, 501(c) foundation, orgo-babble, beiger-than-beige cause-brand, they’ve embrace their quirky, goofy, offbeat fun side as a way to build a personal, engaging, fun, personality-focused and, yes, still cause-driven brand.

Their Shop From Work Week promo is a great example.

Here’s the copy from the page that describes it:

There’s a serious problem in today’s workplace, people, and it’s costing an estimated 4.7 schmillion man-hours a year*. Symptoms include:

  • Staring at the clock
  • Re-re-reorganizing your desktop
  • Continuously refreshing The Bieb’s Twitter page
  • Updating Facebook status to:
  • Actually being happy to get a meeting invite

At Better World Books, we see procrastination and boredom as opportunities. Sure, maybe some of us are gifted with more of these opportunities than others. I’m looking at you, Ted from Accounting. So why not put that time to good use?

Here’s how it works:

  • You get to work
  • You shop
  • You get 3% off 1 book in our sale category, 6% off 2 books …and so on, up to a maximum of 30% off per order!

And kakow! Where you would otherwise have been wasting another day getting a monitor tan in your cube-tropolis, today you’ve not only gotten a sweet deal on some used books, but you’ve also put your support behind our high impact literacy partners.

Just try and name a better use of your work hours! (Besides working, of course.)

Love their playfulness in inventing a week-long holiday devoted to shopping while at work.

But, what I love most is the “Boss Button” they’ve added to the site during the campaign on the top right side of the navigation bar.

Hit it if your boss walks in while your shopping and your shopping page gets covered over by a dummy-page with all sorts of meaningless corporate jargon and a fake pie-chart.

Obviously, it’s all tongue in cheek, but it’s a great example of building a successful brand in a really competitive space that’s capable of supporting a great mission without selling out who you are in an effort to “fit in” with how cause-driven companies are supposed to act, look and feel.

Now, go buy some books and play with the Boss Button already!

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13 responses

13 responses to “Renegade Cause Marketing and the Boss Button”

  1. This is awesome! Although I would never have the occasion to use the ‘Boss Button,’ it’s a hilarious concept. I’m glad to know about Better World Books – that will be my first stop for books from now on. I would be shopping now, but I have a backlog of amazing reading materials in the queue, including Career Renegade. 😉

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, remarkablogger, Grant Griffiths, Tim Brownson, Adam King and others. Adam King said: What a cool example – Renegade Cause Marketing and the Boss Button by @jonathanfields […]

  3. John Sherry says:

    I love the modern world – it’s not just thinking out of the box, it’s manufacturing whole new boxes to look outside of. Maybe soon we’ll also stop pushing the envelope and do something else with it instead.

  4. Love the humor, both yours and theirs.

    At the same time I was laughing, I was also quite sad and feeling a bit depressed. Why, at what the “work world” seems to have come to. The attitude people tend to bring with them to work, and how many spend their day…not working.

    Often times it’s not just “the company” at fault when the environment is poor. It’s also what the employees bring or don’t bring to the metaphorical table. Positive energy breeds positive energy, negative breeds negative.

    There is a great difference between procrastination and boredom. Much of what appears to be boredom is actually procrastination. It’s not that they don’t have things to do, they don’t want to do them.

    Just imagine if everyone kicked in gear, left the attitude at home and wanted to make a difference not matter where they were or what they were doing. That they recognized that they may not be at their optimal job doing what they love best but that a) they were employed, b) were lucky to be employed, and c) could have a positive impact wherever they are.

    What they are doing doesn’t have to be forever, but rather than making the worst of it couldn’t they make the most of it for both themselves and their employer. After all, they took part of creating the situation. They accepted the job offer…otherwise they wouldn’t even be there.

    Own up and own your experience. Ok, rant over.

    • HC says:

      I mostly agree with you Faith but I have in mind someone who is really struggling in their job and could do with a Boss Button! The person is packed full of ideas and skills but is unable to use any of them for the benefit of the organisation, as a result of someone else dominating and trying to take the credit. You are right, they should be (and are) grateful for the job….but on some days shopping, or blogging becomes an attractive alternative.

      • I absolutely understand. The rant is as much about to do your part of the equation. Too often I see folks waiting for someone to fix things for them.

        There absolutely are bosses out there that are a pain in the a** and need attitude adjustments themselves. They need to remember that you really learn most things by kindergarden: how to play nicely, how to share, how to say please and thank you…

        What happens when we grow up? Ego gets in the way. Those that are the most challenging are often those who are the farthest from understanding who they are and what they are about.

        BTW – I do love the boss button idea. Some days I need to push it for myself.

        Alternately, I suggest that all of us bosses out there need to understand that personal life sometimes needs to be taken care of during business hours. It’s about being “fair” with your time and the bigger picture. But many forget.

    • So… I took my rant and tried to turn it around into a more productive outcome. Created a Pondering & Insight on Owning Up and Doing Your Best

      Here’s to Attitudes of Gratitude. Be well everyone.

  5. […] a link to Jonathan’s article if you are […]

  6. Barbara Saunders says:

    In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due: The “Boss Button” was a feature of the late, great, a site that invited people to tell comic horror stories about bad bosses, craptastic coworkers, and mind-numbing, menial work assignments.

  7. Barbara says:

    love the Boss Button. Reminds me of the flow chart ESPN created during the World Cup last summer so people could watch the games while at work. Nice touch!

  8. Scott says:

    Love to comment but the boss is comin

  9. Dustin says:

    Oh man, a boss button!? That is too awesome. There should be some sort of Firefox plug in that does that.

  10. This is great. A company with a little personality is always refreshing.