Paper Icon Campaign from Smith’s Food and Drug

Smith’s Food and Drug is in the middle of its annual campaign for Primary Children’s Medical Center, a key part of which is this paper icon. I purchased mine for $1 on Saturday, May 7, 2011.

Since 1992 Smith’s, a 130-store unit of the grocery giant Kroger, has donated more than $7.6 million to Primary, one of only a handful of Trauma One pediatric hospitals in the country, and the only such hospital in its service area, which includes parts of Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, and Montana.

Smith’s donation to Primary in 2010 was $1 million and $837,000 in 2009, signaling the regard with which Primary is held in the local community as well as Smith’s skill at fundraising, even in the face of an economic downturn.

The paper icon is large, more than 6½” in diameter, and in full color. The back is blank except for a black and white UPC code. The clerk dutifully asked me if I wanted to buy the icon. The credit card machine had a coordinated paper surround that also promoted the campaign.

The icon itself features kids’ art, which is cute enough. Generally I suggest that the icon art represent in some way the population being served. If it’s a zoo, it should be zoo animals. If it’s food bank the paper icon should represent patrons. If it’s Special Olympics, it should be Special Olympians. Etc. Although there are many reasonable exceptions.

Primary chooses to represent its mission with kids’ art. Having worked for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) kids’ art sort seems so 1995, which is about when I was using kids’ art in promotional materials. For that reason I probably can’t be objective on how appealing people find kids’ art when the child in question is not their own.

You’ll also notice that the hospital itself isn’t actually represented by even a typographical logo. One of the enduring mysteries of Primary Children’s Medical Center is that it doesn’t exactly have its own logo. They will, on occasion, use the ungainly thing to the left. But you won’t find it on the front page of Primary’s website.

For its own reasons Intermountain Healthcare, the nonprofit that owns Primary and 21 other local hospitals, wants to be the brand that people recognize. But Intermountain’s persnicketyness on the topic has long struck me as an example of ‘cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.’ Having visited dozens of children’s hospitals from coast to coast, Primary is the only one I know of without its own logo.

That said, Intermountain and Primary get away without a logo because the hospital has a 100-year history in the community, tons of goodwill, a well-earned reputation for excellence, and a slightly unusual name.

How could Smith’s improve this well-put-together and effective paper icon campaign?
  • As a starter they could make use of the back of the icon for explanatory text or photos.
  • By its nature the circle shape wastes a lot of paper that just gets trimmed off. They could certainly create a tessellated shape that would create little to no waste.
  • They could include a tear-off receipt for the donation amount.
  • They could ask for higher dollar amounts than $1.
  • They could create a contest element wherein a tear-off portion serves as an entry.
  • They could utilize a tear-off for bounce-back coupons.
  • Finally, I’m waiting for the paper icon campaign that addresses the question that some people have: What happens to the icons after they’re displayed? Smith’s could certainly insist on recycled paper for the icons and promotional materials. But they should also demonstrate greener intentions by making a point of recycling all of the used paper icons.
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