T-shirt wizard Life is Good is launching a new campaign that it hopes will counter the dark-and-getting-darker messaging surrounding the presidential election: Positive State.
Using #GROWtheGood, it’s kicking off a new campaign with a 50-day countdown to the election by asking lucky optimists in all 50 states to share reasons why their state is an upbeat place to live, offering cash rewards to winning causes.
The idea is that optimism -- the spark of hopefulness the $100 million company conveys with Jake, its little stick-figure mascot -- can change political conversations, says Lisa Tanzer, president of the Boston-based company. “There’s just so much negativity right now,” she tells Marketing Daily. “We want to provide a little daily dose of goodness. There are great people out there, and they’re doing really good things.”
Marketers piggybacking elections is nothing new. They usually tend toward the jokey — like this year’s Bud Light Party effort or the Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton masks that will likely be among the year’s top Halloween costumes, or the civic and sincere, like the ubiquitous Rock The Vote t-shirts. Tanzer, who was promoted to president back in July and had previously been head of marketing, says she hopes this effort falls somewhere in between.
“We stay far away from politics,” she says. And while she concedes that the brand’s core commitment to optimism can make that seem otherwise — President Barack Obama’s campaigns keyed on the word “Hope,” for example, and candidate Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is based on the idea that life in the U.S. isn’t so good these days — “we purposely avoid election issues,” she says. “We don’t do rallies, for example.”
To create the content used in starting the effort, she says the company sent out surveys asking questions like “What’s your state’s unofficial song?” and “If you had $500 to keep good going in your community, how would you spend it?” “And we constantly encourage people to send us ‘Life is good’ examples, so we were able to draw from that content, as well. And then people will have the ability to post their own comments once the campaign is live.”
Users will be able to fill out a Facebook survey that asks them what they love most about their home state, including favorite foods and local heroes. Following the Nov. 8 election, it will give $25,000 in grants ($500 to a participant from each state) for good causes in local communities. (Life Is Good doesn’t do TV, radio, or print advertising, but it devotes 10% of profits to charities, most linked to children.)
There’s also an app, which allows people to add favorite “Life is Good” sayings to photos and art, like “Spread good vibes” and “Do what you love, love what you do.”
And it’s tied to a new Life is Good Positive State Collection, an Americana t-shirt line with a patriotic palette and inspirational graphics. (The Ts are made with 100% USA grown cotton.)
“We’re excited,” she says. “This is a great platform for our brand.”