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Toshiba’s National No-Print Day: Publicity Stunt or PR Genius?

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During the 2012 Sustainable Brands Conference, Toshiba announced the kick-off of its newest initiative, National No-Print Day (10/23/12). It couldn’t have been a better venue and platform for the campaign launch, and the eco-conscious audience applauded Toshiba’s move.

Now, when I first heard about National No-Print Day, my first reaction was a little cynical (it’s a symptom of working in an industry where you think of similar campaign ideas for a living). In my mind, it was a giant corporate company’s gesture to appease the public’s emerging concern regarding sustainability. That’s what I thought, at least, until I started researching it.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a company’s intentions are sincere, but for the discerning PR professional, there are a few things that turn a publicity stunt into PR genius.

Consider this, does the campaign…

  1. Add value to the community?
  2. Relate to the brand’s goals and culture?
  3. Have strong creative and informative content?

Toshiba’s campaign for National No-Print Day has all of those elements and more. After reading this blog, venture over to the website. It’s not just a page hidden in Toshiba’s main website. Toshiba made the campaign just as important as their brand by providing a beautifully designed website entirely dedicated to National No-Print Day. On the website you’ll meet the star of the campaign, simply named ‘Tree.’ This character gives a personality and face to the unsung hero at work — trees and ultimately paper.

A printer company asking people NOT to print seems a little counterintuitive, but hence lies the beauty of the idea. Toshiba explains:
We sell printers. We want you to print less. Wait, what?

“Why is Toshiba sponsoring National No-Print Day? A few reasons. For starters, we’re not just devices, services, and solutions (albeit we provide some amazingly innovative devices, services and solutions). We’re people. People who breathe the same air, swim the same water, and play fetch in the same parks as everyone else. We recognize the earth is an irreplaceable asset. That means that our bottom line isn’t just the dollars and cents we bring it. It’s a measure of how sustainably we can do what we do”

The concept of the campaign is simple. You make the pledge not to print on October 23rd, and Toshiba will plant a tree for every pledge.

The Goal: 150 million trees planted by 2025 in time for Toshiba’s 150th anniversary.

It couldn’t be more perfect from a brand perspective. The website also offers a toolkit filled with sustainable printing tips, an email reminder template, a National No-Print Day presentation and more.

To me, this campaign is the perfect storm of PR and marketing concepts coming together in a meaningful way. Not to mention, the creative supporting the campaign is ingenious. It’s witty, funny and completely sharable, which is key to starting a viral campaign.

It is modeled after The Office’s filming and directing format. It was a smart move on Toshiba’s part and showed that Toshiba has a fun, relatable personality.

Ruling: Toshiba’s National No-Print Day = PR genius!

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