Lessons from our Fruity Tale initiative with WWF New Zealand
By supporting WWF's critical work to help restore the Hauraki Gulf, our Fruity Tale limited edition juice showed that small businesses can make a big impact. As a values-driven business, we want to make a meaningful difference, but often don’t have the budget for donations that reflect how much we care. So when WWF-New Zealand reached out about their Whale Tales campaign – we knew we needed to find a way to make it work.
The best part is that our sweet solution – a charitable juice – achieved so much more for everyone than what could have been done with a donation alone.
Buzzing with the results and reflecting on how we got there, we figured that other small businesses might gain something from what we learned on this journey.
So we sat down with our Marketing Manager Abbie and Whale Tales Marketing Manager Bex– now great mates – to share their insights for conscious businesses that want to make a meaningful difference.
WWF New Zealand is working to help save the Hauraki Gulf by advocating for the forgotten giants who call it home - the Bryde's whale.
Tīkapa Moana, the Hauraki Gulf, is a treasured marine area. But beneath the waves, this rich ecosystem is on the brink of collapse.
The pollution from urban development and damage from overfishing, combined with a lack of innovative or well-funded management frameworks, has thrown the environment way out of balance. The resulting damage to the ecosystem can be seen at every layer, from poisoned mussel beds to depleting seabirds.
And the graceful giants of the Hauraki Gulf, the Bryde’s whales, are disappearing.
Along with a network of community and local government initiatives, WWF-New Zealand is doing vital work to help protect the Hauraki Gulf and support the kaitiaki (guardians) working hard to restore it.
The Whale Tales Art Trail celebrated local artists, businesses, and communities who were shining a spotlight on what needs to be done to restore the Mauri of our ocean.
If you’ve been in Auckland over the past few months, you might have noticed the colourful Whale Tail sculptures dotted around the city. Designed by local artists and children, and sponsored by local businesses, the tails raised awareness about the dire situation of the Bryde’s Whales and their home.
The tails were auctioned and the proceeds will fuel the powerful work taking place to help restore the Hauraki Gulf. And that’s why Bex reached out to Chia Sisters.
How can we make a meaningful contribution on a small business budget?
As the Marketing Manager for the Whale Tales campaign, it was Bex Waddell’s job to reach out to businesses and form a partnership to support the cause.
During her conversation with the Chia Sisters team, it was clear that although we couldn’t make a hearty donation, we were determined to make something work.
We repurposed one of our bestsellers and gave it a beautiful new label – Fruity Tale – to be sold on our website, by businesses positioned along the Auckland-wide art trail, and at Farro Fresh.
Supporters could buy a Fruity Tale drink while experiencing the Whale Tales trail– or purchase a box from our website to enjoy at home. Either way, our fundraising juice enabled more people to make a meaningful contribution to the cause with a simple gesture.
The success of the campaign boiled down to three things:
Lesson 1: Simplicity. Don't overcook it.
Abbie put her strategic and creative mind to work as she and Bex brainstormed what a meaningful partnership could look like.
Abbie knew that our orange and mango pressed juice was popular with our customers and straightforward for Chia Sisters to produce. She noticed the customer profile for the juice, children and families, aligned perfectly with the target audience of the Whale Tales Art Trail.
From there, it was a no-brainer…
“Businesses don’t have to invent a whole new product, system, and process for a charitable cause. Look at what works well in your existing business model, and identify what you can tweak and adapt to suit a fundraising model”
— Abbie Tebbutt
Lesson 2: Choose partners with shared values – it always works out.
It was clear from the get-go that Chia Sisters and WWF-New Zealand are on the same wavelength. Abbie and Bex quickly formed a strong team and became great mates.
It was like we struck gold – two organisations with shared values, run by like-minded people who are open to new ideas.
But what was most meaningful to us was how WWF-New Zealand responded to challenges – because we all know these sorts of projects aren't all plain sailing! Instead of letting a challenge become a roadblock, our shared values and openness meant we could maintain the flow and quickly find a solution.
We were blown away with how an organisation as large as WWF-New Zealand could still be so agile and flexible. And that’s what meaningful partnerships are all about – being committed to making it work and not letting anything get in the way.
We reckon this made our product even more impactful.
“It works because we came into the chat without ego, and led our discussions with “how can we make this work for the cause?” A big part of this work is the alignment of values, this collaboration really demonstrates our shared commitment to the environment.”
— Abbie Tebbutt
Lesson 3: Get creative. Don't be afraid to do something a little different.
To make our product shine, we needed a label that showcased the heart of the campaign. We were inspired by the label sculptures and wanted our juice to echo the impact of the whale tails dotted around Tāmaki Makaurau.
We let the creative juices flow and were open to new ideas. And luckily for us, Fleur Woods jumped in to help.
Fleur is a talented local artist. She generously contributed a cross-stitch masterpiece, called Rock Pool.
Rock Pool is a celebration of the diversity and resilience of ocean ecosystems. Inspired by an off-grid adventure in the Marlborough Sounds, Fleur used contemporary embroidery to capture the layers and textures of a magical yet delicate underwater world.
Talk about synergy! This was a perfect fit with our campaign. Our clever graphic designer Geoff Francis curated the Rock Pool design into the iconic whale tail shape, and it became the centrepiece for our beautiful label.
We’re so grateful to Fleur for letting us use her art, and to our team for allowing full creative freedom so that the label could be truly unique. Sure, it’s a little different from our other juices, but that’s the whole point. We know our values are what matter most to our customers – so we weren’t too precious.
“The biggest achievement for us was mobilising Chia Sisters’ brand base and customer loyalty – their New Zealand-made products smashed it out of the park because consumers want to buy local and know that what they’re buying is good for them and for the environment.”
— Bex Waddell
The result? A successful campaign, a meaningful contribution, and a close partnership.
WWF-New Zealand has made over $2,000 in sales proceeds from Fruity Tale that will go towards four science-based projects to help improve the home of the Bryde’s Whale:
Grants to support communities in local and freshwater regions
Support for the development of a fully traceable supply chain in our fisheries
Support for action-based kaitiakitanga led by mana whenua
Development of an app to capture long-term data on the creatures that live in the Hauraki Gulf
We’re beyond stoked to have been able to support this cause in a way that showcases our values, our products, and our community of like-minded customers.
By working together with WWF-New Zealand, we’ve compounded the benefits that a single donation could have achieved and come out with so much more – a strong partnership, a new friend, and a winning process for small business-led action.
We hope this story shows that there are meaningful ways to support a cause as a small business – you just have to keep it simple and work together.