The M&S Shwop campaign began as an internal CSR initiative that later progressed to become their biggest non-product campaign rolled out to M&S customers across the country in stores and online. The basic idea is that staff and customers donate their unwanted clothes, which are then sold in Oxfam shops, shipped to Africa for resale in local markets, or recycled to support the environment.
Internally there is a big push for staff to take part twice a year, particularly this year between January and March where the government pledges to double any donations made. However, in recent years the awareness around shwopping has petered out. Which is where The Team comes in.
Having previously worked with M&S on other employee engagement projects like the award winning Captain Energy behaviour change campaign (encouraging 75,000 staff to think about saving energy in their 600 shops), we know they’re now working hard to encourage employees to take part by donating unwanted items or volunteering to help sort and pack the clothes into sacks. Good on ‘em we say. It’s communications work like this that connects employees with what the business stands for.
Research by Harvard Business School suggests that on the whole, happy people are more generous. It was also found that there is a link between happiness, gratefulness and kindness, and people who feel gratitude tend to have a stronger immune system, feel less stressed, and have more friends.
Based on this evidence, the M&S internal communications guys are able to trigger an emotional connection between shwopping and its beneficiaries. Once all the stats are collected, it’s amazing to see just how valuable one sack of clothing can be. For example, one Shwop sack can pay for equipment and seeds to feed an entire family, improving their diet and income. And 34 Shwop sacks can fund a radio programme to educate mothers in developing countries about maternal health. When messages like this get portrayed through upbeat, bright and colourful posters, with quick and easy-to-digest information on how to get involved, then you’ve got some compelling communications.
Inspired by this and our association with M&S we decided to hold our own Shwop event. Not only was it a bit of fun, it gave many people a head start on their spring clearout! Above all, it felt great to give something back and to know that even the smallest contribution can make a big difference to the lives of others.
We love working with M&S and we love Shwopping!
Find out more about our behaviour changing work with Marks and Spencer here