Hickory Springs launches eco-friendly social marketing effort

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Eco-friendly furniture component manufacturer Hickory Springs launched its first social marketing campaign on October 20. The effort focuses on a nationwide search to find six contestants for its “EarthCare Challenge,” an online video contest that urges consumers to lead more sustainable lifestyles.

The campaign's primary goal is to educate consumers about the importance of Earth-friendly furniture. Dwayne Welch, EVP of Hickory Springs, said he would like Hickory's “EarthCare Inside” label to be comparable to that of Intel's “Intel Inside” sticker.

“Deciding on a piece of furniture has always been an outside-in decision, but we want consumers to know that the inside counts,” he said. “We want EarthCare to be that type of tag on a retail floor that a consumer would migrate towards.”

Hickory Springs, which provides materials with environmentally friendly components to furniture manufacturers, will also use this campaign to build its e-mail database. It will then use e-mail marketing to update consumers on contest's progress and give information about where to find EarthCare products at the retail level.

Another goal is to show manufacturers that consumers do value eco-friendly furniture, and by extension, expand its customer base. The effort's target audience is women of all ages.

“We hope to engage consumers with education-based marketing,” Welch said. “If we do it right, we'll allow the retailer to engage in a legitimate dialogue with consumers about being green, not just about the price or color of an item.”

Promoted solely on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and EarthCareInside.com, the campaign encourages users to upload videos of themselves explaining why they are “eco-oblivious” or “eco-chic.” The hub for videos is Hickory Springs' YouTube channel, where HGTV host Jim Parks gives a video call for participation.

Entries will be accepted through November 15. On December 1, Hickory will select six finalists to participate in the challenge.

For the next 45 days, those six finalists will receive advice from Hickory's panel of green experts about lifestyle, diet and home furnishing. They will be asked to document their progress on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Users of those sites will be able to vote for their favorite contestant, and the winner will receive $5,000 in eco-friendly home furnishings. The grand prize winner will be announced January 18, 2010.

Hickory Springs developed this campaign internally and did not work with an outside agency.

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