Edelman Canada Ignites the Power of Storytellers and Helps Build Bikes for Children in Ghana

Originally posted on the goodpurpose blog.

Recently, I had the opportunity to work on a program that combined a few of my favourite things: chocolate, bikes and doing some good!

For the third year in a row, Cadbury Canada opened its doors to the Cadbury Bicycle Factory, which encourages Canadians to help build bikes for children living in rural Ghana.  In Canada, we often take our bikes for granted.  To us, they represent warmer weather, exercise and fun.  But for these children, a bike means so much more, including access to education and a chance for a brighter future.

You’re probably wondering how chocolate helps build bikes, right?  Well, I’ll tell you.  The concept is quite simple actually.  In exchange for entering the UPC code from a favourite Cadbury product at  www.thebicyclefactory.ca or www.facebook.com/BicycleFactory, consumers donate one ‘virtual bike part’ to help build a virtual bicycle.  Once 100 virtual bike parts are assembled, a real bike is built and delivered to youth in rural Ghana.

Why Ghana? Cadbury’s history is deeply rooted in Ghana, having been instrumental in establishing the cocoa industry over 100 years ago.  Today, the company is committed to helping improve the life and future of the communities in these cocoa growing regions.

Since 2009, with the help of Canadians coast to coast, Cadbury Canada has delivered 9,332 bikes to Ghana– but it wanted to deliver even more.   So the company turned to Edelman to help amplify the 2011 program in a meaningful and relevant way.

How did we do it? Leveraging both Edelman’s goodpurpose and 8095 report findings, in addition to using the Edelman global network to help vet the strategy, the Toronto Consumer Marketing team built a plan for Cadbury that would amplify the Bicycle Factory story by connecting with Millennials, mommy bloggers and bike enthusiasts in a meaningful way.

For starters, there is no question that the Bicycle Factory is already an amazing program, so we knew we didn’t need to create a story for them.  What we needed to do was create the reverberation effect – ignite storytellers, to inspire and influence consumers to take action on behalf of the cause, in their own way and on their own time.

Storytellers?  Rather than hiring paid spokespeople, we selected two Millennials who are very active in the social media space as “The Factory Workers” to be directly involved in and actually take part in the entire Bicycle Factory experience. Rebecca Bollwitt and Darius Bashar, influential bloggers from Vancouver and Toronto, respectively, were invited to go to Ghana this past February to help physically deliver the bikes built in 2010 and engage with local children who have benefited from the program.

In order to inspire The Factory Workers to take action, we needed to provide them with a first-hand experience and demonstrate how these bikes are transforming lives for the better in Ghana.  Naturally, because of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, they became ambassadors for the program and shared their experience with their followers in their own authentic way – inspiring their networks to take action and help build bikes…and it worked!

Through our storytellers, traditional media outreach, Twitter engagement and on-the-ground buzz- generating executions, Edelman Toronto was able to get the word out and help make a difference!  The Cadbury/Edelman team was able to generate over 13 million media impressions, 54 hits, 11 posts by influential mommy and bike-enthusiast bloggers, almost 400,000 potential Twitter impressions, not to mention tweets from very high-profile Canadians such as Erica EhmBrett Wilson and Arlene Dickenson.

And how does that all translate into bikes for Ghana? Well, I am proud and excited to say that with our help, Cadbury will be delivering another 3,283 bikes this year!  As a result of Edelman Toronto’s innovative PR program (not to mention passion for this cause), we are helping 3,283 students spend less time walking to and from school and more time learning, helping their families and, well, just being kids!

Who knew the power of chocolate? When the Factory doors re-open in 2012, join the movement – eat chocolate, build bikes and make a difference.

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