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It Takes a Big Machine to Outnumber Hunger

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Editor’s Note: This month's Celebrity & Cause post by partner WarpSpeed, spotlights Outnumber Hunger, which launches year two of the program in April. WarpSpeed is proud to work with General Mills and all of the parties on this program.
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The Big Machine Label Group (BMLG)– home to Superstars like Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and Reba – is a relatively new record label group, which launched in Nashville less than 9 years ago.  While BMLG may not be considered one of the three “major” labels, they are quickly becoming one of the most dominant forces in all of the music business by disrupting the way artists and industry execs have traditionally done business.

Creating Difference Makers Those who know BMLG and the visionary leader, President & CEO Scott Borchetta, view them as much more than just another record label.  Case in point:  BMLG’s dedication to fighting hunger, raising awareness and helping find a solution for the more than 50 million people who may not know where their next meal is coming from.  Borchetta and his roster of artists aren’t just using their celebrity to be tastemakers; they’re using their voices to be difference makers.

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Outnumber Hunger is Born One in six people in this country struggles with hunger.  Last year, Borchetta was approached with the opportunity to involve his artists and utilize BMLG’s platform to speak to music fans around the world and do good.  General Mills, one of the leading companies in the food industry fighting hunger, in conjunction with BMLG and Feeding America, created a cause marketing program called Outnumber Hunger.

BMLG artists, with country super-group Rascal Flatts taking the lead, were featured on the packaging of 24 different General Mills products, from Cheerios to Betty Crocker to Pillsbury.  Consumers who purchased any of the millions packages could enter a code online to help Feeding America secure 5 meals for their local food bank.  Consumers were incentivized and thanked with a music download from any one of the BMLG artists participating in the campaign.   Over the course of the cause marketing program, millions of meals were secured.  

Personal Experiences Lead to Authenticity From the outset, Borchetta embraced the Outnumber Hunger program and tackled the issue with the same intensity used to promote his artists and bring multiple #1 hit songs and awards to BMLG.  “This amazing program is going to address what I think is an unacceptable problem.  People should not be hungry in America and we’re going to do something about it.”  His visible passion resulted in his artists feeling the same desire to make a difference.

Nearly every artist involved in the program, despite incredibly busy schedules touring and releasing music, visited a Feeding America food bank at least once last year.  The entire BMLG staff spent time volunteering at the local food bank in Nashville.  These personal experiences resulted in a level of authenticity unmatched in most cause marketing campaigns involving celebrities.  Consumers responded to it with equal support.

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Ongoing Efforts and Thorough Integration Identifying this as a 365 day/year issue, BMLG and General Mills committed to mounting a sustainable, ongoing effort involving everyone BMLG and their artists touched, from employees to industry partners to fans.  Outnumber Hunger was integrated into every facet of BMLG’s daily activity as a record label including elements for radio, retail, public relations and social media.  The program was strategically launched at the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards in tandem with the Rascal Flatts’ new album, CHANGED. This strategy, tying cause with celebrity, had never been done to this degree before with an album release.

The PR Opportunity Making appearances on the Today Show and other major media gave Flatts the opportunity to not only promote their album in a unique way but bring attention to the issue of hunger in America.  General Mills took Outnumber Hunger out on the road, where a tour bus traveled with the Rascal Flatts tour and BMLG artists made appearances in cities across the country.  Overall, this program was a game changer in the music industry because it was a national program incorporating cause in a significant and authentic way while providing consumers with an easy way to make an impact locally.

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Year 2 Enhancements
Fast forward to year two of Outnumber Hunger. The Band Perry is the featured artist for the campaign set to kick off in early April, again at the ACM Awards.  They, along with a handful of other BMLG artists, will start the Awards weekend with “Outnumber Hunger Live” concert that fans can attend on Friday, April 5 in Las Vegas or watch as a televised special on AXS TV (AEG, Mark Cuban, Ryan Seacrest) nationwide on Saturday, April 6.  Outnumber Hunger strategically coincides with the release of The Band Perry’s new album PIONEER.  New elements like customized radio promotions throw gasoline on the spark that began last year.

The commitment of the BMLG label and this young award-winning group has deepened the engagement even further.  Because of the response from year one, General Mills expanded the program in both size and scope.

Ambassador Outreach  In the coming days, Outnumber Hunger will announce the invitation to leaders, celebrities and media partners to join the Outnumber Hunger Movement as ambassadors.  It truly does take a Big Machine to Outnumber Hunger and win-win-win partnerships like this one can help move the needle in the right direction.