The sensibility of today's consumer – particularly emerging younger generations – demands that companies are good corporate citizens. It is both good business and the right thing to do. Leading companies often have a clearly defined program that engages their employees, leverages their product or service in some way and provides guardrails to manage waves of requests. The best programs also include a certain news worthiness that extends the reach and impact of the good deeds. One Simple Plan has developed a feel in creating efforts that check all these boxes.
Conn's HomePlus is a Houston-based specialty retailer of furniture, appliances and home goods with a fast-growing footprint of more than 100 stores across the southern tier of states. While the retailer always had a community-minded focus, it never had a formal program that brought everything together in a more meaningful way. Realizing this gap, OSP recommended the company boost their philanthropic profile to elevate their connections to consumers and the communities it serves. The result was Conn's Cares, which OSP helped develop and name. OSP laid the program groundwork by creating a manifesto based ona simple but important goal of improving children's lives. Specifically, OSP linked the mission to the Conn's legacy by recommending a focus on children's literacy – echoing the activities of the company's founder who frequently visited schools to read to children.
To spark the philanthropy, OSP connected to, vetted and negotiated with leading children's nonprofit, First Book, to establish the community activation that is anchored in the donation of thousands of books to kids in need. Interactive book reading parties add to the magic, where Conn's employees visit schools to spread the love of reading to the students.
OSP further bolsters the value of Conn's Cares by creating a strong earned media arm via the visually rich reading party events that showcase how the company cares for their communities.
Northern Tool + Equipment
Northern Tool + Equipment (NTE), a growing hardware retailer, has a no-nonsense ethos and quality products that appeal to tradesmen and DIY types. NTE asked OSP to develop a repeatable PR activation that would help the company resonate as it enters new markets. OSP responded with the "NTE: Nurturing Trade Excellence" program, which lifts high school trades. The idea was inspired by high school students being pushed only to four-year colleges, which dispirited those who wished to work with their hands. Bringing attention to – and helping remedy – this trend would demonstrate NTE's commitment to the legacy of its customers who literally build the world.
Nurturing Trade Excellence centered on a tool donation for a local high school and a $2,500 scholarship for a trade school-bound student chosen via an essay contest. The first two activations (White Bear Lake, Minn.; Houma, La.) generated both media and word-of-mouth buzz in each market. Local dignitaries ranging from school superintendents and elected officials joined parents and NTE executives at the award ceremony.