KIND in the New York Times!

by Adeena Schlussel on behalf of Daniel Lubetzky

Thanks to a great article by Stuart Elliot, KIND gained New York Time’s fame yesterday.  Check it out to learn more about the KIND movement, our unique business model, and Daniel’s unbounded energy to surprise complete strangers with random acts of KINDness!

New York Times

Depending on the Kind-ness of Strangers

Published: July 12, 2010

A line of snack bars is trying to live up to its brand name with an initiative that offers a twist to the typical cause marketing effort.  The brand is Kind Healthy Snacks, which peddles Kind Fruit and Nut and Kind Plus bars with the slogan “Be Kind to your body, your taste buds and the world.” Kind is sold by Kind L.L.C. in New York, a brainchild of Daniel Lubetzky, the man behind do-good efforts like PeaceWorks and the One Voice Movement, which, as he puts it, “use business forces and market forces as glues to bring people together.”

Kind’s approach to doing well by doing good is a campaign carrying the theme “Do the Kind Thing,” which plans to donate, in stages, $100,000 to organizations deemed worthy of assistance. The first round, totaling $40,000, is to be announced this week and will be divided among three causes.

Executives at Kind and its agency, Green Team in New York, call the campaign “cause-driven” because the donations are not being determined by the public’s voting for which organizations deserve the money, as is the case with campaigns like the Pepsi Refresh Project, sponsored by PepsiCo. Rather, “Do the Kind thing” asks consumers to perform acts of kindness — deliberately instead of randomly — that are tracked through Kind cards bearing code numbers. A participant in the “Kind Movement” links his or her card and code to a charitable organization or other “redeeming” cause, as the campaign’s rules describe it; performs a kind act for someone else; and then passes the card and code on to that person.

That someone can repeat the process, and so on and so on and so on — just like in that vintage Faberge shampoo “And they told two friends” commercial. Points accrue for the causes at each step of the pay-it-forward journey, and the causes with the most points receive the donations.

More information about the campaign is available at various Web sites, among,, and the Kind Facebook page .

“We’re connecting human beings through the power of ‘acts of unexpected kindness,’” Mr. Lubetzky says. “Surprise people, and the karma will come back.”

“How powerful it is to surprise a total stranger with a really nice act: buy them a cup of coffee, pay their toll,” he adds. “It makes their day; it makes your day.”

Mr. Lubetzky estimates there are about 200 companies vying with Kind to sell healthy snacks, nutrition bars and energy bars. Cause marketing thus becomes a way to stand out amid the competitive clutter.

Even mainstream candies are getting into the act. The Snickers brand sold by Mars is introducing a campaign that carries the theme “Bar hunger.” When a wrapper code is entered at or is texted to “45495,” a meal will be donated to Feeding America, up to a total of 3.5 million meals.

“It tastes good to do good,” reads the headline of a Snickers print ad, which calls the initiative “the tastiest way to do good.”

To be sure, Mr. Lubetzky says, “socially conscious brands engender more loyalty” among consumers, “but first and foremost, you have to stand on your merits.”

“The reason people buy Kind bars is that they’re delicious and they’re healthful,” he adds. “If the product doesn’t taste good, isn’t the right price or doesn’t fit their lifestyle choice, even if it’s made by Mother Teresa it’s not going to work out.”

Consumers “can tell when it’s obvious a company is trying the fad of the day,” Mr. Lubetzky says, or “when it’s really sincere” and cause marketing “is really part of the business model.”

“You have to be very careful,” he adds. “If you over commercialize a social mission, it completely loses its soul.”

The idea that participants can select the organizations and causes they want to benefit from the donations helps the campaign become “a grass-roots process, owned by the people,” Mr. Lubetzky says. (There is also a list on the Web site for those without pet causes.)

“The Kind card acts as a license to be nice to people,” he adds.

In addition to the campaign, Kind donates 5 percent of profits from sales to Mr. Lubetzky’sPeaceWorks Foundation. He projects that retail sales this year for Kind bars, which have been growing robustly, will be about $70 million.

His other products like Meditalia pestos and tapenades and Bali Spice sauces make the same 5 percent donations; they are produced through the cooperation of, in the case of Meditalia, Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptian and Turks and, in the case of Bali Spice, Christians, Buddhists and Muslims living in Indonesia.

“The concept of extolling people to be better citizens, it’s something we don’t do enough,” says Mr. Lubetzky, who refers to himself as “a confused Mexican Jew getting Arabs and Israelis to work together.”

“It’s like the J.F.K. philosophy,” he adds, referring to the “Ask not” line from PresidentJohn F. Kennedy’s inaugural address.

The first stage of the campaign took place from March 12 through June 30. The winners of the $40,000 first round of donations that is being announced this week are as follows:

*First place, and a $25,000 donation, goes to Operation Gratitude , based in Encino, Calif., which sends care packages to troops in combat zones.

*Second place, and a $10,000 donation, goes to Good Girls Give, based in Sherman Oaks, Calif., which helps people with neurological disorders and Locked-in Syndrome.

*Third place, and a $5,000 donation, goes to the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center, based in Commack, N.Y.

The initial phase was supported with an estimated $110,000 in spending, divided among four types of efforts.

There were retail displays, in supermarkets like Food Emporium, Pathmark, Shaw’s, Waldbaum’s and Wegmans.

There was sampling in eight cities — Austin, Tex.; Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; and Seattle — that was conducted by a field marketing team, which visited events related to areas like food and health. The team also gave away Kind cards at those events.

There was a public relations campaign, which included social media and cause newsletters. That campaign was handled by an internal team at Kind and Allison & Partners, which is based in San Francisco and has offices in cities like Los Angeles, New York and Seattle.

And there were the promotions for the campaign on the various Kind Web sites andFacebook page.

“We are a small and really young brand,” says Erica Pattni, director for marketing at Kind. “We’re growing very fast but we’re not quite in the big league, so we’re stretching our resources as much as we could.”

“We were really looking for a way to get the most bang for our buck,” she adds.

Going into stores where Kind is sold was done “because that’s where the consumer is making decisions,” Ms. Pattni says, and going online was a given because the Internet is “where consumers are learning about brands more than ever before.”

The purpose of the campaign “is to further our mission to make the world a little kinder by inspiring kind acts,” she adds, and “doing a kind act is a cost of entry” to take part.

Jimmie Stone, partner and creative director at Green Team, calls Kind “a mission brand” for its goal of “changing the way snacking is done.”

In developing the campaign, “we started with something we find fascinating,” he says, which is that 86 percent of Kind customers say they have been turned on to the brand through word-of-mouth referrals.

“It’s a very passionate group,” Mr. Stone says, “so the whole idea of encouraging trial and the grass roots was the way to go.”

“The challenge is how to integrate being a mission brand and also selling bars,” he adds.

For instance, the more direct product pitching is being done on the Web site rather than on the or sites.

“I think we found a really nice balance,” Ms. Pattni says.

(Hey, wait a minute. Isn’t Balance Bar a rival of Kind’s?)

And by offering consumers the chance to designate their own organizations, charities and causes to help, rather than associating Kind with “one cause or a few causes” that the brand itself selects, Ms. Pattni says, it makes Kind “as appealing as possible” to a broader audience.

Kind is planning to resume the campaign in August or September to give away the remaining $60,000 of the $100,000 target donation.

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