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Giving back is so hot right now. Seems like some of the biggest brands out there are making it big off their claims of giving back and making a difference. 

I love this change in marketing trends, especially since my company, LMH Promotions focuses on social good business and for-purpose marketing and branding campaigns. (Fundraising, cause awareness, community building) I love seeing the consumer demand to see the impact their purchase is making. I love knowing that people really care. 

Of course there’s the brands that take advantage and claim they are making a difference while selling a totally toxic product (*cough cough*, Ronald McDonald, PEPSI Refresh, Coke RED, all the cancer causing products that rep PINK RIBBONS?)

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Now we are seeing a whole bunch of companies that “give back” because, lets face it, they have to now! (Woo hoo!) 

But does that mean that companies should be promoting their product and pushing it with a purpose just because its catchy or it fits their product or message? 

Many of the brands I have helped launch or support have started their product BECAUSE they saw a need. TOMS started because Blake saw the children in Argentina needed shoes. Anna Dodson started Peruvian Hearts scholarships for the orphanage she was adopted from in Cusco. I started hosting fundraising campaigns after seeing firsthand the lack of educational resources while traveling through the gorgeous, developing world. 

Ana Dodson peruvian hearts give back charity

I’m feeling hopeful for the future of consumerism because brands are being forced to give a shit and give back. 

Lets just not forget to hold these companies accountable. I know from first hand experience of a give back company that claims all over their site that their products are made in Costa Rica but sent their photographer to El Salvador where they moved their production years ago to save on costs. I saw the photos of their production facility and it was pretty grim. 

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There’s companies that come up with a product to support a popular cause, even though they have no personal connection to it. 

Where is the integrity in these situations? 

Does it even matter? 

If giving back is trendy, then does that mean we are becoming better as a whole society? If the good is being done does it matter why? 

Maybe not.

Just sharing my observations. Lets hear yours.

ComicCon has always been one of my favorite weeks of the year. Not only has it been one of the most profitable events for my company, LMH Promotions, but it is a magical time when nerds rule the streets. Geeks and gamers come out of every corner (or basement) all over the world to dress as their favorite character and connect (in real life!) with others who share their passions for all things pop culture, occult, and intergalactic. The time, energy and creativity that people put into their costumes is worth getting an over priced sandwich and cappuccino on a corner cafe in the Gaslamp to people watch. 

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I’ve always loved walking the streets and interacting with all the real life characters, seeing the magic come to life all around us. Seeing San Diego, my home town, transformed into a action packed movie set with giant displays, life size props and interactive exhibits, always makes me feel a kind of childlike excitement.

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As a kid I was dressing up like Princess Leia and playing in a cardboard Millennium Falcon in my backyard. I was teased constantly for being weird and not being obsessed with N*Sync or Backstreet Boys, but Han Solo. Now it seems like everyone is suddenly a Star Wars fan, and one of the coolest events of the week is a Star Wars themed party on a Hornblower yacht! Where were all of you 20 years ago when I was training to be a Jedi all by myself?

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On the flip side, ComicCon has a very Hollywood side, with private parties hosted by the biggest entertainment companies with strict guest lists, packed with celebrities and the who’s who of the industry. Somehow I found myself on this side of ComicCon, often being the person with the clipboard turning nerds away, only letting the super cool kids who’s name were on my list, into the party. It pained me in my soul, because inside I am one of those kids getting turned away at the cool party. (Or if I was invited, I got locked outside and laughed at. I hope you are reading this you middle school dicks. I still remember that shit!)

  I find it strange that this convention, started for the nerds, somehow became about excluding those same people from the best parties.

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Don’t get me wrong, I loved being on the right side of the velvet ropes. Not only was I working with some of the most prestigious event companies and meeting and hosting some of Hollywoods most talented, but I was making great money. At 22 I was single handedly casting, hiring, coordinating and managing 50 models and bar staff for the Camp Playboy party the first year they did an event at ComicCon. (Why Playboy is even at ComicCon confuses me.)

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Talk about a shallow gig. I had to sort through hundreds of applications, many of them my friends and models I had hired many times and judge each one of them as if I was casting for Playboy. I had to objectify women, deny beautiful girls because their photos weren’t revealing enough or they didn’t wear enough makeup. I think women are so much more beautiful natural and healthy looking but the event firm I was working with were SO typical Hollywood and expected all the staff to have Playboy looking headshots and body shots. It was unrealistic to find that many models with events experience and hosting skills that also had a portfolio of sexy (photoshopped) photos. I was so stressed I lost sleep, couldn’t eat and barely enjoyed the night I had worked so hard to produce.

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I spent the entire check from that event on a one way ticket to Thailand and didn’t come back until I felt the whole thing was forgotten about.

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Sadly, I had girls come up to me asking why they were not hired or if they could apply for future events. I was being bombarded from so many directions I quickly booked another flight a few months later for Peru and Costa Rica.

Wanderlust_Escape_Travel_Gypsy_Runaway_CostaRicaI made the pilgrimage of the Inka Trail to Machu Picchu and thought long and hard about what I wanted from life. I was building a name for myself and my company by 23 years old. I was making great money, friends in high places and invited to all the best parties, but my heart wanted to be in Cusco, volunteering at the orphanage I had been fundraising for with those same fancy parties.

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Somewhere in the Andes mountains I decided I was going to only work with companies and brands that had heart and soul. I wanted to use my powers for good. I no longer wanted to work on the dark side of the Force. I’ve been training these Jedi skills for too long to let them go to waste. I vowed to let love and compassion guide my work and while its been a difficult road and tempting to occasionally sell out, its been the most rewarding choice of my life.

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Now I get to walk the streets and enjoy ComicCon as the nerd that I am. I’m not on any guest lists and I’m not really interested in being on one. But damn, that Star Wars boat party does look cool…. 

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This past weekend I attended a Business Breakthrough seminar hosted by Rize Global where we learned about turning passion into profit. Seeing as my passion lies in philanthropy I have had many moral issues with pursuing a profit from purpose driven promotions and hoped the seminar would help me clarify my vision. I jump at opportunities to donate my company’s skills, promotions for non profits and volunteering at fundraising events weather I am stuffing gift bags of school supplies to underprivileged kids or MC for a dance off at a afterschool program, I love to help good causes.

I also like to help those I deal with most, my friends and colleagues. I enjoy chances to help promote a friend’s brand or event, to give advice or constructive feedback when I can and to show support to all the hard work I see around me all the time. CHEERS to the many inspiring people who surround me. In honor of those people I am writing this blog in hopes to share some of the inspiring ideas I heard during this workshop.  My favorite part of the workshop was the guest speaker, Simon Mainwaring author of  New York Times Best seller, “We First” about how brands and consumers use social media to build a better world.

He opened with a powerful question about the new marketplace we are looking at today.

How are you world?

1 in 6 are below poverty line. Due to the recent scandals, the banks, the media, there  is no trust in big brands.  4.5 billion in assets changed from banks to credit unions in the last five weeks. Our quality of life is becoming difficult so people are reacting and citizens are connecting. People are starting to look at what is meaningful in their lives and it is starting to be apparent values lay in creating trust in their companies, treating employees fairly and their quality of life.  People are connecting and wanting to help each other and volunteering and charitable work is on the rise.
As amazing as that sounds, being well intentioned is not enough. We must articulate our message in a way that will be affective. Melinda Gates said to “stop acting like missionaries and act like marketers” and I agree with her. To reach a large audience we must build a brand that is larger than ourselves and instead a community. We must use the tools at our fingertips to create a self outside ourselves on social media platforms. Blog!

The most effective part of his presentation for me was the “Social branding blue print” outline he gave.

 Craft a story to define a brand
-Define purpose and core values
-Distill into emotional terms
-Craft a manifesto
-Write a vision statement
-Commit to a purpose
-Align internally

Be culturally specific, community focused, generate content & Get Your Story Straight!

Key social strategies / tactics
Crowdsource
Collaborate with competitors/cross sectors
Build contribution into real/virtual consumption
Launch/partner w employee volunteer programs
Use social platforms to trigger donations/actions (I use facebook and StayClassy.org most for social fundraising)
Use online platforms/mobile apps for credibility /reach

To sum up the key points I took away from this helpful workshop:
1    The future of profit is purpose
2    Brands must become community celebrants not celebrities
3    Marketers must become day traders in social emotion

25% of all kids worldwide are without electricity. Most of them play soccer. Soccket is a soccer ball that stores kinnetic energy and has a outlet so people can cook food and have light to study by.  Fifteen minutes of play can power a light for 3 hours. It was invented by 3 girls in college.

Get inspired, get your story straight and get moving friends. The world is waiting. 

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