How Life is Good built an anniversary campaign to highlight positivity

The apparel company, founded by Bert and John Jacobs, has optimism in its DNA. The brothers sought to engage their community by telling stories about people doing good for others.

Life Is Good raising brand awareness

It’s easy enough to say you want to make the world a better place, but how do you take concrete action?

For the company Life is Good, embracing positivity has been a foundational touchstone as it looks to differentiate and connect with consumers. Bert and John Jacobs founded the company on the belief that bringing people together around a positive life outlook could change lives.

That, naturally, was the brothers’ focus as they looked to celebrate a quarter-century of benevolence.

“In celebration of the brand’s 25th anniversary, we felt this message was more important than ever,” says Karen Lyon, VP of marketing for Life is Good. “Our goal was to call on communities to share #SomethingGood and shift the conversation online.”

From an authentic place

The company’s focus on positivity is lent authenticity by the founders’ story and reveals just how important your leadership team is for campaigns that try to engage the community beyond the core business purpose.

Lyon explains that the motto “Life is Good” derives from the founders’ lives, making it an intrinsic, genuine part of their story.

“Bert and John grew up in a chaotic home, with four other siblings, a depressed father, and daily challenges both big and small. As a result, optimism became their most powerful coping mechanism, and it was instilled in them by their mother, Joan,” Lyon says. “Every night, Joan brought the family together at the dinner table and asked, ‘Tell me something good that happened today.’

“Joan’s example of choosing optimism in hard times was what inspired Bert and John back in 1994 to start a business for good that celebrates three simple words: Life is good.”

This origin story is crucial to the success of the campaign and highlights what it means for a company to have authentic purpose. The reason your business exists and how it connects with consumers must be so intertwined with everything you do, from how you treat employees to how your founders tell their story.

 Put money behind it

 Life is Good didn’t just get its audience to share positive stories from their lives. They also used the opportunity to raise money for charity.

“For each #SomethingGood submission, we pledged to donate $1 to the Life is Good Kids Foundation, with an ultimate goal of 1 million shares and a $1 million donation,” says Lyon. The campaign hit its goal in early October.

A storytelling campaign might offer earned media opportunities, but you must invest resources to get the success you want. It’s also helps your brand image to make the campaign about more than just a celebration of yourself.

Many communicators are tasked with sharing anniversary news, and most of those pitches admittedly aren’t very newsworthy. However, this company’s dedication to raising money for charity—as well as making a bold attempt to change the nature of our discourse online—offers many striking angles to appeal to journalists.

Getting the word out

When trying to engage your community for user-generated content or when striving for viral online success, you must have a promotion strategy for your campaign.

“The #SomethingGood campaign had a multipronged awareness program associated with it,” Lyon says. “We started with our shopping channel, including online and in-store at both Life is Good Shops, and key wholesale accounts across the country.”

They used their established touchpoints to attract and retain their targeted consumers—a smart lesson for all marketers and brand managers.

“Online, we had a landing page experience that gave shoppers the opportunity to share #SomethingGood immediately after making a purchase,” says Lyon. “Our social team also drove awareness through engagement-focused posts prompting followers to share, and hosted giveaways on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat.”

Life is Good also reached out to other companies to partner in the effort.

“We partnered with like-minded brands like Dunkin, QVC, Schwinn, Tervis, and Samsonite to boost awareness of the campaign through their channels and communities,” Lyon says. “Each of these companies played a big part in driving shares, hosting giveaways and rallying their employees to participate in the movement by focusing on the good. “

New media

 Life is Good was heavily invested in this effort and used its anniversary to launch several owned media campaigns as well.

“We also launched the Life is Good Ping Podcast,” says Lyon. “Hosted by Bert and John, the podcast focuses on all that’s good in the world, featuring interviews from influential and inspiring friends of the brand like Ringo Starr, Katie Couric, Aly Raisman and Scott Avett.”

The podcast also focused on themes of lighthearted interaction and charity work with guests facing off with Bert and John in a pingpong match, the winner garnering a donation from the company for a charity of their choice.

Leaving no stone unturned, the company also engaged influencers to help spread the message. Life is Good turned to its bench of influencers who already had relationships with the brand.

“We have a carefully curated ‘Good Vibe Tribe’—a group of authentic influencers who share the ethos and mission of Life is Good and represent a wide range of our community,” says Lyon.

“For example, Michelle Poler of @hellofears has been a member of our Tribe since before the campaign began,” she says. “Her Hello Fears social movement has reached over 70 million people worldwide and has empowered thousands to step outside of their comfort zones and tap into their full potential. Michelle used her platform to engage with her followers with the #SomethingGood message, and she was also a guest on the Life is Good Ping Podcast last summer.”

The company also employed a paid media strategy, working with Pandora and HuffPost to create audio ads and banner ads and articles to promote the initiative.

Employee ambassadors

It’s important to include employees in these efforts, especially when the message is one of social magnanimity. If employees don’t feel the love—or, worse, if they outright contradict your message about your company—you have a huge authenticity problem on your hands.

For Life is Good, building those positive relationships is an ongoing process.

“Our employees are our greatest brand evangelists,” says Lyon. “Taking a cue from Joan, we begin many of our meetings here at Life is Good by inviting everyone to share something good.

“During the campaign, we took it one step further and encouraged our employees to share #Somethinggood on their social accounts and around the office. We even did a few surprise giveaways to get everyone involved.”

When planning an anniversary campaign, or looking to engage your community, think about how you can get employees to help out. Often, these workers are already tapped into the communities you want to reach, and happy workers can be your strongest asset when telling your brand story.

Spice it up

The big takeaway for the Life is Good team was how much work it takes to keep a campaign interesting and engaging for an audience over a long timeframe.

“One of the most important things we learned was how to keep our core message of optimism consistent, while also finding ways to freshen it up and keep it exciting throughout the seven-month-long campaign,” says Lyon.

That’s why the team came up with so many disparate channels and efforts within the overall campaign, from a podcast to social media outreach.

“We also did a lot of testing with Snapchat and were able to engage a younger audience—one of our key initiatives as a company,” says Lyon. “Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the different ways users of all ages and on all platforms engaged with our message.”

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