Clif Bar is a family-and employee-owned company that prioritizes the planet and people over short-term gains. They’re one of the first and most successful purpose-driven companies.
Clif realized that while many people are very aware of their line of products and their brand’s zest for adventure, very few knew about the brand in any depth. Clif tasked Neato with developing a strategy and associated programming that would raise awareness of the brand’s unique, value-driven approach.
Clif’s is guided by its values, something the company calls its aspirations. They are the brand’s purpose, something the company calls its aspirations. Those aspirations intersected nicely with what young people value.
But young people didn’t need to hear another brand talking about how great they were. We decided to take a different approach. Rather than talking about their own purpose, how can Clif inspire young people to discover what purpose means for them?
We created and produced a comprehensive campaign that highlighted the positive impact that Clif’s purpose-driven approach has had on the world, while inspiring students to discover and realize the impact that they want to have.
Simply put, we told young people “Our purpose is to inspire yours”
The campaign included a web site (purpose hub), set of campus experiences, ambassador program, speaking series, media campaign, and even a full-fledged Purpose Scholarship.
When it came time to apply that strategy to program design, some challenging questions were raised.
What exactly is purpose?
How do we make such a nebulous topic tangible for young people?
How do we talk to them about something so deeply personal?
How can we act act as a gateway and provide people with the opportunity to go deeper?
We embraced the notion that purpose isn’t some bright shiny object waiting to be found. Purpose is found within. It changes over time. Purpose is a state of mind. It’s fluid and always evolving. Purpose guides people. Discovering it is a journey of experimentation and self-discovery.
To connect with people around purpose and make it tangible, we had to deconstruct it for them and show examples. To be an inspiration for people, we had to help them build confidence, and create tactical next steps. To truly enable people, we had to provide an opportunity for students to explore purpose in a meaningful way.
We concepted and produced a comprehensive college marketing campaign that included:
A series of campus events.
A digital hub to help students explore purpose.
An Ambassador program.
An advertisement campaign.
…and our biggest initiative:
The Clif Bar Business with Purpose Scholarship
which offered student loan repayment, a monthly stipend, and mentorship that enabled students to purpose during a gap year after graduation.
Although Clif has always been a values-driven business, few people knew the depth of their commitment to sustaining their business, brands, people, community, and the planet. We helped change that.
Through activations on 45 campuses across the country, 36,000 samples of the product, 443,000 awareness emails to students and faculty, and more than 1.9 million impressions on social media, Neato’s full-service program cut through the noise and reached students in an authentic and meaningful way.
“It is never easy to start a new program, and you were fantastic partners to lead the way for us. The positive and engaged response from college students prove that the program worked. It was a tall order to figure out how to connect college students to our purpose, and you helped us do that on our first try! Thanks for pouring your hearts, minds and bodies into this and making it a lot of fun. It was a pleasure working with you.”
Dan Hickle, VP of Brand Marketing at CLIF
Our first step was to showcase some aspects of Clif’s purpose through engaging on campus experiences. These gave students accessible opportunities to engage around purposeful activities such as reducing waste and supporting sustainable foods.
Having engaged with students, we then offered them an approachable way to explore their own purpose, through interactive activities such as a Purpose Wall. The goal here was to inspire students to think about their purpose and how they could pursue it in a meaningful way.
To the most engaged students, we offered a “Purpose Gap Year” scholarship. The students who qualified could pursue their purpose while being financially-supported and mentored for an entire year.
In order to have conversations with students about purpose, it was important for us to make it approachable and actionable while providing a relatable path to exploring purpose—and learning about Clif Bar along the way.
The program aimed to reposition the concept of purpose from a “big shiny object waiting to be found” to a state of mind that is accessible to all.
Student Brand Ambassador Program
Neato recruited, hired, trained and managed a team of influential students across the country who embodied the Clif lifestyle, brought the brand to life on campus, and gave a credible passionate voice to our mission. These ambassadors helped identify and execute the following initiatives at their campuses:
- Partnerships with campus influencers
- Outreach to student organizations
- Promotion and support at on-campus events
- Clif Bar product integration
- Social engagement
- Product sampling
- “Business with Purpose Scholarship” promotion and awareness
To kick-off the program and fully immerse Student Brand Ambassadors in Clif culture and values, Neato developed and executed a national training event at Clif Headquarters. This multi-day training gave Ambassadors the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with Neato, Clif and each other — while equipping them with the right tools and knowledge to represent the brand on campus. Sessions included product and nutrition experts, sustainability, role training, brand immersion, group outings, a roundtable with Clif founders, and a group excursion to volunteer at an urban farm.
Clif “Live with Purpose” Campus Event Series
A series of three events on each college campus engaged students and started the conversation with small, simple, and purposeful acts that empowered students to contribute to larger Clif initiatives around the planet, people, and community–ultimately guiding students to explore what’s meaningful to them.
Hands-on activations at each event positioned Clif as a force of good and positive energy. These came to life through three core themes: Think Organic, Journey to Zero Waste, and Fitness Food Drive. Think Organic gave students the opportunity to plant their own organic herbs and learn about organic food and farming. At Journey to Zero Waste, students learned about recycling and decorated their own reusable tote to encourage everyday sustainability. Finally, at Fitness Food Drive students donated canned food items as their ticket into a curated fitness event. Throughout this event series, over 7,000 students attended and explored their purpose.
“Purpose really relates to not only our lives as college students but also the social climate of the world right now. More than ever, it is important to stand up for what you believe in and make an impact.”
Student from the University of Texas, Austin
The Clif Purpose Wall
The anchor for each campus event and activation was the Clif Purpose Wall, a place where students could explore how to live with purpose and think in-depth about what’s meaningful to them. The wall encouraged students to fill out a card with the prompts:
- “Something I care about is…”
- “I can have an impact on this by…”
- “This matters to me because…”
These questions encouraged students to think about the things they care about and how these passions can lead to discovering a larger purpose. Answers varied from localized concepts like family and friends to large social issues like food insecurity, voter registration, and pollution. After filling out the card, students were encouraged to hang it on the wall and read what their peers care about. The end product was a colorful display of inspiring stories that directly exemplified what students care about on campus.
“Purpose is a very relevant topic. You don’t realize that you haven’t been thinking about your purpose until someone asks you to. This definitely inspired the thought process.”
Student from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Clif Bar Sampling
Throughout the semester, each Brand Ambassador distributed Clif Bars to relevant student influencers, campus organizations, and peers. By implementing quality peer-to-peer sampling opportunities, Brand Ambassadors were able to organically spread brand awareness and talk about their role on campus. Sampling the product was also a great way for Ambassadors to share new product offerings–and receive honest input directly from students.
Clif Bar “Business with Purpose” Scholarship
This scholarship enabled graduating college students to integrate their passion for making the world a better place with their business career by removing the financial burden of their student loans and inspiring them through mentorship from Clif Bar & Company. Neato worked with Clif to develop the scholarship program and market it through paid media, speaking tours, and on-campus tactics.
“The scholarship is such a cool opportunity for graduating students who don’t know what they want to pursue after college. It really provides the opportunity to explore what they want to do instead of jumping into a career to just make money.”
Student at the University of Washington
“Business with Purpose” Speaking Tour
In support of the Clif Bar “Business With Purpose” Scholarship, Neato organized a fireside chat with Clif Co-Chief Visionary Officers Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford at select campuses. We asked them to reflect on what it means to run a company that doesn’t just focus on profits but also strives to create a healthier, more sustainable world. Following the chat, Gary and Kit participated in more intimate Q&A sessions with students to share why they are passionate about inspiring tomorrow’s business leaders through the “Business with Purpose” Scholarship.
“This is the first time I have heard of a scholarship that has debt-forgiveness incorporated into a social-impact program. I am super excited about it! If I were awarded the scholarship, I would explore opportunities in Environmental Justice, which is a super niche category but something I am really passionate about.”
Student at the University of California, Berkeley
Clif “Business with Purpose” Website
We created The Clif Purpose Hub to act as a centralized space for students to interact and learn more about the Clif Business with Purpose Scholarship. The website had three phases: Awareness, Engagement, and Exploration.
During the Awareness phase, we introduced students to the Clif Bar “Business with Purpose” Scholarship and invited them to sign up to learn more over email. In the Engagement phase, students got to know the Clif Purpose story, learned about the path for scholarship applications, and explored FAQs. Finally, the Exploration phase features a living site where students can continue to find tips for exploring their purpose as well as browse resources and examples of students who are living with purpose.
Neato developed and translated the campaign creative, messaging and design across experiential events, print, social, email, and digital.
Campus Activations Nationwide
Students Who Explored Purpose
Clif Bars Sampled
Scholarship Awareness Emails Sent to Students and Faculty
of Valuable Insights From Students, Ambassadors and Influencers