Roundtable on the CARE "I am Powerful" Campaign
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Roundtable on the CARE “I am Powerful” Campaign
LS:

I wanted to focus this issue of Advertising & Society Review on the CARE “I am powerful” campaign for a couple of reasons. First, I feel that the approach taken—the focus on empowering women economically—is symptomatic of an important turning point, in which the relationship between increased rights for women and improved material conditions in the developing world has recently been understood. Partly because of this connection, I believe that this beautifully executed campaign will become a historically important one. I also felt that the multiple ways in which corporate and media partners worked with CARE in various forms were good demonstrations of an emergent paradigm in which the business world and the NGO world are forming partnerships to achieve humanitarian goals. Finally, I think the campaign points to a watershed moment in history in which women in one part of the world are empowering themselves to a degree that they can, and will, significantly assist less-privileged sisters in another part—sometimes in places they’ve never been and may never go.

I am here at CARE’s headquarters in Atlanta today with the managing editor of Advertising & Society Review, Sylvia Lim, as well two current members and one former member of the CARE marketing team. Perhaps we can begin with some introductions.

AH:

I’m Adam Hicks and I’m Vice President for Communications and Marketing. I’ve been here for seven years. We do everything from the advertising and the brand positioning to public relations and media management.

LC:

Linda Cronin. I no longer work for CARE. I worked in Media Marketing Alliances. When I came in, Adam hired me to help work on the rebranding of CARE and that was my task.

BM:

Beth Meyer. I’m Marketing Alliances Manager. I work primarily in developing relationships with corporations that extend CARE’s brand. Those are corporations that are reaching out to women in our targeted audience (women aged 35 plus), and building marketing partnerships with those companies. I’ve been here for a year and a half, so I did not go through all of the process to get us into the rebranding of the “I am powerful” campaign, but these guys have.

SL:

I’d like to ask about the reasoning behind the campaign strategy. Can you tell us about the thinking that led to this campaign?

AH:

I think there were several pieces of reasoning behind it. One was that there was recognition by CARE that we didn’t have the brand awareness we needed to have as an organization in order to accomplish all the organizational priorities we had—including fundraising, advocacy, staff recruitment, board recruitment all those sorts of things that brand awareness can play a big role in.

Another issue was distinctiveness. Our brand image was really not understood by many Americans and there wasn’t a lot of clarity around it; it wasn’t very differentiated relative to other players in our category—the other anti-poverty organizations—OXFAM and World Vision and Save the Children and others.

I think the most pervasive understanding of CARE’s work was CARE as a responder to emergencies or CARE as the organization that did the “care package”: that we shipped food overseas. But our work had evolved very much in different directions, so we wanted to have more truth in advertising—how we positioned ourselves and the real nature of the organizational work.

Our work had been gradually evolving over 60 years, starting with the CARE package, evolving both geographically and in complexity over time. About eight years ago, CARE developed a rights based approach in which we were helping people realize their fundamental human rights so that they could make a difference in their own lives, as opposed to CARE shipping in food and building houses for them and those sorts of things. If people in developing countries could realize those rights, they could solve their own problems. Our philosophy had begun to be more about empowerment and less about doing things for people or...