Inspiring Hope and Building Lives
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Holmes Report

Inspiring Hope and Building Lives

Whirlpool demonstrates its commitment to community and society through its partnership with Habitat for Humanity International. The company donates a refrigerator and range to every Habitat for Humanity home built in North America.

Paul Holmes

Whirlpool demonstrates its commitment to community and society through its partnership with Habitat for Humanity International. The company donates a refrigerator and range to every Habitat for Humanity home built in North America. Whirlpool has donated approximately 50,000 appliances to Habitat since 1999 as part of its $25 million commitment to the organization’s More than Houses campaign, which will build more than 100,000 new homes by 2005.

Whirlpool has further strengthened its partnership with Habitat by sponsoring the Reba McEntire Habitat for Humanity summer concert series that kicked off June 4, in Connecticut and visited over 30 U.S. cities. Reba McEntire, country music legend and award winning artist, became the Whirlpool spokesperson on behalf of Habitat for Humanity. With her strong, national fan base, Reba has been a perfect vehicle for Whirlpool to disseminate the Habitat message and reinforce its reputation as being a brand that cares and gives back to its community.

Whirlpool wanted its internal and external audiences to understand its relationship with Habitat and wanted to bring wide spread attention. Whirlpool has been Habitat’s largest corporate sponsor since 1999 and hadn’t done much to share that externally and internally. The biggest challenge was to find the right vehicle to inform Whirlpool’s audiences and develop a plan that would get immediate attention for Whirlpool.

Zeno needed to evaluate Whirlpool’s target customer and choose a spokesperson that would align with their values and beliefs. Through research, Zeno discovered Whirlpool’s core customers are “active balancers” – women who are balancing their families, activities, career and home. Reba McEntire – an “active balancer” herself - resonated with the Whirlpool consumer and its employees. It was a natural fit for Whirlpool to position Reba as its spokesperson to spread the message to audiences across the country.

Zeno knew bringing Reba on-board would provide the star-power and audience reach Whirlpool needed. Reba had already been involved with Habitat in a variety of capacities for more than a decade and she is well-known and respected among the Whirlpool female-dominated customer base.

Whirlpool’s objectives were to inform its customers and potential customers of all the significant contributions that Whirlpool makes to the community, and specifically to Habitat, while building customer loyalty for its strong brands. Whirlpool wanted to broaden consumer awareness of Habitat’s cause and the partnership between the two organizations Also, Whirlpool needed to instill internal pride with its employees and motivate them to get involved with the campaign. Whirlpool sought to develop and execute a program that would help raise awareness for Habitat, while also bringing attention to its commitment to the organization.

Zeno’s strategy began by linking the Whirlpool brand with two other great “brands” that shared Whirlpool’s values: Habitat and Reba. Both Habitat and Reba are highly respected across the United States and many other parts of the world, and both have high appeal with Whirlpool’s customers. Zeno also facilitated Whirlpool’s internal communication by informing employees of the partnership between Whirlpool, Habitat and Reba in turn strengthening its internal advocates.

Zeno developed two contests for Whirlpool employees to generate excitement and inform them of the partnership and concert series. The selected employees had the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the Reba/Habitat television commercial shoot in Los Angeles and attend Reba’s live concert on the Today Show in New York City. Zeno also developed messages and interactive content for the employee website. With more than 30,000 employees, Zeno and Whirlpool knew that the employees are the best brand advocates and they are imperative in spreading the word about Whirlpool and Habitat.

Zeno approached influential national media to secure placements, including spots on the Today Show and Country Music Television. Zeno also conducted grassroots efforts to reach local markets where Whirlpool employee contest winners reside as well as where the Reba Habitat for Humanity concert series stopped. In addition, Zeno created B-roll of Reba and the contest winners and distributed it to local market media.

To speak to consumers and employees, Zeno launched the “Join Us” campaign, where users could go to to learn all of the fun and exciting ways to support Habitat for Humanity in their local area.

Zeno worked with Whirlpool and its advertising agency, Publicis, on developing compelling key messages for an emotional integrated marketing campaign including a broadcast and print ad.

The results of Zeno and Whirlpool’s efforts have been overwhelmingly successful, including more than 700 articles in 43 states. Over 200 journalists mentioned Reba in over 160 separate publications. The Whirlpool/Habitat campaign was featured in local and national media including a performance by Reba McEntire on the Today Show’s summer concert series. Advertising Age Magazine has ranked the Whirlpool/Habitat TV ad staring Reba number 7 on its “Most Likeable” scale, which is based upon an index of viewer rankings on likeable and memorable ads for associated brands or products.

Reba also played to more than 600,000 fans during her three month concert tour – and opened each show with a message about Habitat for Humanity and Whirlpool. She encouraged people to get involved with Habitat for Humanity and praised Whirlpool for supporting the organization. Whirlpool conducted two employee contests to meet Reba – each one drawing more than 5,000 entries. The company continues to receive numerous phone calls and e-mails from consumers thanking them for their support of Habitat, and pledging to be Whirlpool brand customers for life.

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