Sierra Club deal with Clorox paid $470,000

Clorox Finally Comes Clean

By Inspired Protagonist – January 26, 2009

Sierra ClubI have to tip my hat to Clorox. From purely a marketing point of view, Clorox’s promotional deal with the Sierra Club has proved to be a clever tactical move.

You might recall that a year ago, Clorox won–for an undisclosed sum–the Sierra Club’s endorsement for the bleachmaker’s GreenWorks line of products. Rather than put in years of effort trying to gain the marketplace’s approval by competing solely on the merits of its cleaners, Clorox basically bought itself some instant credibility with Sierra’s seal of approval. The deal proved to be a boon for Clorox; the same cannot said for the Sierra Club.

For many months, thousands of Sierra Club members requested greater transparency in regard to the organization’s financial relationship with Clorox. Sierra Club officers in northern Michigan quit in protest over the deal, while state chapters in New York, Florida, New Jersey, and Tennessee criticized it. But it wasn’t until last week that Clorox, according to , announced it was giving $470,000 to Sierra “as part of the relationship for the product line.”

I can’t help but wonder why the Sierra Club gave away so much for so little. Fortune magazine once calculated that intangible assets–all of the customer/community relationships that ultimately enhance a brand’s reputation–represent as much as 75% of the total value of the average US business. I suspect that the same rule-of-thumb applies to the average US non-profit. And the 116-year old Sierra Club, with its more than 700,000 members, is not your average not-for-profit. It’s doubtful whether the payout will ever cover the true cost to the Sierra Club’s reputation.

For Clorox, the Sierra deal has certainly proven to be a smart bit of business. I have yet to be convinced that it’s good business.

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