Brandspanding for the Recycled Paperboard Industry
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Holmes Report

Brandspanding for the Recycled Paperboard Industry

BrandSpandingsm generateD high visibility for 100% recycled paperboard and helps create consumer demand for packaged goods companies' products carrying the 100% Recycled Paperboard symbol.

Paul Holmes


More than two decades ago, The 100% Recycled Paperboard Alliance (RPA-100%) created one of the most recognized icons in the world:  the original triangular recycled symbol with the "chasing arrows”; however, this ubiquitous symbol never was trademarked and was (and still is) used on millions of products that are packaged in recycled material.  In the mid-1990s, RPA-100% wanted to recoup some of the value they had lost by their failure to protect the symbol they’d created.  The organization engaged Rowland Consulting and charged them with an even more ambitious mission:  to create a powerful, valuable brand around 100% recycled paperboard that would 1) significantly enhance the ability of their customers -- packaged goods companies -- to sell more of their products and 2) generate significant marketplace awareness for 100% recycled paperboard.  Rowland met the challenge and planted the roots of what, in the year 2000, would come to be the highly successful system of marketing known as BrandSpandingsm


First, Rowland did extensive qualitative research in the packaging marketplace to determine where the influence patterns were.  From this, the Rowland team created a Point of Entry CommunicationsÒ model exclusively for RPA-100%.  Second, Rowland did an in-depth analysis of past RPA-100% marketing programs to see what worked – and, more importantly, what didn’t.  Competing against plastics trade groups (and outspent more than 50-to-1), Rowland discovered that RPA-100% was struggling to maintain a campaign targeted at consumers, to raise their awareness of “buying recycled.”   


Using the Rowland proprietary Point of Entry CommunicationsÒ model as its guide, RPA-100% embarked on BrandSpandingsm , a new direction in its business strategy.  There are seven key elements to this approach.

1. Change the target.  The ultimate target customer for RPA-100% marketing was changed from the consumer and moved up the value chain to the packaged goods companies – the reason being, “If it’s not on the shelf, consumers cannot buy it.”  The change produced a more discrete audience to go after and greater opportunity for focused results.

2. Offer A New Value Proposition.  The offering to packaged goods companies also was changed.  Not only were the upgraded and new capabilities of 100% recycled packaging brought to their attention in compelling ways, but a value-added marketing campaign also was developed that made heroes of the packaged goods companies -- thus appealing to their  “What’s In It for Me?” needs.

3. Package The Package.  A key to the success of the 100% recycled paperboard brand was to make the actual package and its benefits relevant and more important to everyone in the value chain -- all audiences, from retailers to consumers, packaged goods companies and converters.

4. Create an Updated Icon.  An updated, distinctive 100% recycled brand symbol was needed for the millions of packages on supermarket shelves, to replace the “chasing arrows” which had evolved into a symbol of some generalized environmental information.  Rowland created the new symbol in use today, with the modified half-circle of "chasing arrows" and the words 100% Recycled Paperboard; this was trademarked.  

5. Prove that the Value Proposition Worked.  To convince packaged goods companies, they needed proof that the 100% recycled paperboard symbol helped make their brands look even better.  Proof was delivered through public opinion polling, promotions at retail and other marketing initiatives.

6. Showcase The Package Goods Companies.  They had to be the heroes in the public and the community of the RPA-100% brand in order to deliver on the promised value proposition.  

7. Elongate The Brand Footprint.   This was accomplished by utilizing celebrity spokespersons and tying the full portfolio of marketing activities of the RPA-100% brand to their customers in order to make their brands look even better.


The marketing objective of RPA-100% is to highlight and celebrate the packaged goods companies’ smart use of 100% recycled paperboard, to encourage them to buy more.  When they use 100% recycled paperboard and put the RPA-100% symbol on their packages, the packaged goods companies not only get a GREAT PACKAGE - - they receive a FREE value-added marketing program from RPA-100% that includes publicity and promotions for themselves and their products. 


In 2000, Rowland created an entirely new and dramatic level of visibility and awareness for the RPA-100% symbol and brand by creating and sustaining a real consumer “buzz” in the marketplace to feed back to packaged goods companies.  This feedback was used to accelerate “conversions” to 100% recycled paperboard.

To accomplish this, Rowland used BrandSpandingsm  in an intensive, lifestyle marketing campaign that increasingly made the RPA-100% symbol part of what’s hot in our culture.  Rowland chose unconventional, celebrity-related, humorous vehicles – as well as traditional public relations tactics -- to get attention for the brand.  Results were continually merchandised back to packaged goods companies and prospects to “prove” their partnership with RPA-100%.

Among the integrated programs Rowland created and managed:

New RPA-100% Website – Rowland Interactive designed and launched a new B2B and consumer website,, as a vehicle to promote packaged goods company partners and showcase results of the BrandSpandingsm program.

Public Service Announcement with Boomer Esiason – This :60 second radio PSA, urging listeners to “close the loop” on their recycling efforts by purchasing products bearing the RPA-100% symbol, quickly became the top-three rated spot in the country, used by 394 stations that broadcast it more than 23,000 times.

Melissa Poe Spring “Earth Day” Radio Newsspot and “Back-to-College” Satellite TV Media Tour – Melissa Poe, teen environmental activist and founder of “Kids for a Clean Environment,” was engaged as spokesperson, to showcase products packaged with the RPA-100% symbol and show how easy it is to take steps to save the planet.  The two media initiatives combined reached a total audience of 25.7 million.

Quarterly RPA-100% Newsletter – Rowland designed and distributes this two-page self-mailer to 5,000+ partners, prospects, state recycling coordinators and media to showcase the results of the BrandSpandingsm program.

Westwood One National Radio Promotion – RPA-100% sponsored “The 100% Recycled Play of the Week” on “In the Huddle With Boomer Esiason,” a syndicated sports program distributed on the Westwood One radio network every Friday night to 75 stations in top ADI markets.  Each week, Boomer and his sidekick, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, would evaluate and review a particular NFL play, combining zany repartee about recycling with candid football insights.

Punkin’ Chunkin’ and ’The 100% Recycled Paperboard Presidential Poll - Originally developed to find “new uses for old pumpkins” after Halloween, the 15th annual “World Championship of Punkin’ Chunkin’” now attracts teams of farmers, engineers, athletes and others to determine who can hurl a pumpkin the farthest.  Through the years, teams have developed sophisticated methods of propulsion -- from catapults to air cannons – and currently compete for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the elusive “mile-long chunk.”  Rowland arranged for RPA-100% to sponsor the 1999 World Champions as they defended their title and created the irreverent "21 punkin” salute to determine the outcome of the Nov. 7 presidential election.  RPA-100% gained:

·         National high awareness (television and web) of 100% Recycled Paperboard concept and symbol, which was fed directly back to packaged goods companies
·         Wide exposure on-site to audience of primary shoppers
 o        RPA-100% signage and display of partner products
 o        Regular RPA-100% announcements to 17,000 spectators
·         Print and television media coverage:  more than 67 broadcasts on 46 stations

On-line Promotions with and – Rowland arranged a B2B storefront and $1,000 shopping spree promotion with these two sites, generating a combined audience of more than 2 million hits.

America Recycles Day and Earth Day Groceries Project – RPA-100% partnered with state recycling coordinators and The American Forest & Paper Company to showcase the new symbol and increase visibility for RPA-100%.


BrandSpandingsm generateD high visibility for 100% recycled paperboard and helps create consumer demand for packaged goods companies' products carrying the 100% Recycled Paperboard symbol. It rewards packaged goods companies whose products are packaged in 100% recycled paperboard and who use the symbol on the package. 

The results of BrandSpandingsm through the year 2000 and into 2001 are substantial.  By engaging Rowland Consulting to develop and employ this marketing system, RPA-100% was able to achieve: 

·         Number one market share for 100% recycled paperboard of more than 40%
·         An estimated increase of 3.5% in domestic production of 100% recycled paperboard (which represents 52% greater domestic increase than the number two share competitor)
·         An increase in operating rate at 100% recycled paperboard plants to 94.5%, which is 93% greater than the number two competitors
·         Vast public appreciation for 100% recycled paperboard and companies that use it, according to a national consumer mall intercept survey by Leflein Associates, N.J., September 2000
 ü    Approximately 60% of shoppers would choose the 100% recycled paperboard package given comparative products.
    ü    61% of shoppers say they are more inclined to buy products from a company that uses 100% recycled packaging. 
 ü    One third of shoppers say they are willing to pay up to 5% more for products packaged in this manner.
    ü    75% of shoppers say that they want to see the new symbol on packages.
    ü    Nearly 80% of shoppers feel that a company that uses 100% recycled paperboard packaging is “forward looking”. 
    ü    77% feel better about the companies that use 100% recycled paperboard in their packaging. 
·         Television, trade and consumer print, radio, website, on-line and in-store retail exposure featuring the symbol and partners to a total audience of more than 92.4 million primary supermarket shoppers
Furthermore, the new sales-to-cost ratio from BrandSpandingsm was on the order of 4.5-to-one for RPA-100%.

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