Earth Day may be oh-so-last week, but Timberland isn't giving up on its tree-planting ambitions: The shoe marketer says it is launching a Facebook campaign to encourage people to celebrate Arbor Day on April 29.
To honor the oft-overlooked holiday, the campaign asks users to take a quiz and discover their Inner Tree personality (and no, "Katharine Hepburn" isn't an option.) Users can then plant trees using its recently relaunched Virtual Forest application, and for every virtual tree, Timberland will plant a real one in Haiti (up to one million trees). Most of the men surveyed turned out to be redwoods (strong and robust), while the majority of women are willows (caring, empathetic).
Environmental messages can be a little tricky for Timberland, Jim Davey, VP/global marketing, tells Marketing Daily. "It's easy for things to get lost around Earth Day, when so many companies are talking about it. But for us -- when earth-keeping is so much a part of the brand's DNA -- we have to find a way to do it a little differently. We wanted to do something that was light and funny, but still underscored how serious we are about the entire issue."
The Stratham, N.H.-based company, which has vowed to plant five million trees in the next five years and is already 20% of the way there, says it got the idea after a survey revealed that only 12% of Americans commemorate Arbor Day -- which is celebrating its 139th anniversary -- in any way, while 26% honored Earth Day. (In fact, 76% of the respondents didn't know when it was, and 30% didn't know it had anything to do with tree planting.) "We really wanted to do something that put trees back in the spotlight, so this was perfect for us," says Davey, who is an Oak. "We know we need to have a deeper conversation about issues than other brands. But we wanted to keep it light."
While the holiday has fallen off the modern map, it was a big hit back in the day: On the very first Arbor Day, which kicked off as a major agricultural initiative back in Nebraska in 1872, one million trees were planted in a single day. Tree-lovers can thank Richard Nixon for making it official, naming the last Friday of every April as the big day.
"If trees could talk, they'd be a bit sad about the lack of activities around Arbor Day," the company says in its release.
Timberland is focusing its reforestation efforts in Haiti, as well as China's Horqin Desert.