The 25-year-old nonprofit Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) wanted to recruit civically active women from across the USA to serve as grassroots advocates against products containing a toxic material -- polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – found in many household and baby products. CHEJ also hoped to boost public awareness about safer alternatives to PVC, which it calls a “poison plastic.”
In September 2006, CHEJ asked Care2 to help promote the campaign, using a standalone email message targeting Care2’s civically active, mostly female members. After consulting with CHEJ to become familiar with the PVC issue, Care2’s campaign team created and sent personal email messages to about 150,000 Care2 members, aged 22 years old or older, who were already subscribers to two specific Care2 e-alerts, namely “Women’s Issues” and “Media and Culture.” (Care2 offers 28 such topic-driven e-alerts as a free service to its members.)
The Care2 message described the risks of PVC and urged participants to click through for more information, and to take action. Care2 members who clicked through watched a short animated cartoon story about a “Sam Spade”-style detective named “Sam Suds,” who defends a family against PVC. At the end of the cartoon, which had been specially created for CHEJ’s campaign by Free Range Graphics, the Care2 members were asked to sign a petition asking a well-known chain of discount stores to stop selling products made of PVC. Finally, petition signers were invited to sign up for CHEJ’s mailing list, to stay abreast of issues relating to PVC and other health and safety issues.
Care2’s campaign for CHEJ generated a 28% click-to-open rate, and resulted in 10,623 Care2 members clicking through to the CHEJ website to view the “Sam Suds” video. In all, Care2 members constituted 81 percent of the visitors to the “Sam Suds” page during that particular week. Of these visitors, 26 percent signed the anti-PVC petition, and 10 percent of the visitors (i.e. 956 people) also signed up for CHEJ’s “PVC Action Network” email list, enabling CHEJ to cultivate these email subscribers into both grassroots supporters and potential members and donors for CHEJ. Mike Schade, who is the PVC Campaign Coordinator for CHEJ, praised the success of the Care2 campaign as follows:
“We like the fact that Care2 could target women in a given demographic. The response we got from the email blast was terrific. We were very happy with the number of people who viewed the message, clicked on the link, watched the video and took action. It was the most effective thing we did in the whole campaign.”
--Mike Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator, CHEJ