Copycat efforts do well by committing to a cause

A good idea is always bound to draw copycats. Since the success of the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program to boost auto industry sales, companies such as Amazon, HP, and even high-end department store Barney's have launched similar programs, giving customers cash or discounts for turning in old products.

A good idea is always bound to draw copycats. Since the success of the government's “Cash for Clunkers” program to boost auto industry sales, companies such as Amazon, HP, and even high-end department store Barney's have launched similar programs, giving customers cash or discounts for turning in old products.

The latest is Toys “R” Us, which recently introduced a three-week program that offers consumers a 20% store discount in exchange for turning in used cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play yards, and high chairs, regardless of the condition.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the program was conceived as a way to address the low consumer response to recent child product recalls. And the timing of the program coincides with National Child Safety Month. While the program is likely designed to also boost sales in a sagging economy, Toys “R” Us is wise to tie it to an important cause that resonates with its target audience.

But to truly stand out from the pack in this latest craze, Toys “R” Us should remember that its support of product safety should not end with the month of September. If its goal really is to raise awareness of child-related product recalls, then that message should be a main part of its year-round communications platform, going beyond just making information available on its Web site. Launching a completely separate awareness campaign about the importance of adhering to child-related product recalls or determining if a used product is safe, would convey a dedication to the issue that goes beyond any possible financial gain.

It's easy to support an issue when it's tied to a special promotion or a special month designated for it, but it's the long-term commitment that will truly pay off.

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