RockCorps is unlike a conventional brand partnership; it delivers value across the entire business combining the best in entertainment, content and community impact
RockCorps creates bespoke platforms for brands around the world at a 3:1 ROI, through:
Youth marketing & engagement
Events & content production
CSR & sustainable business strategy
Media, NGO & celebrity partnerships
Large scale volunteering platforms
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The ‘Tsunami of Kindness’ - will marketing kill or cure?
There is a Tsunami of Kindness heading our way – exciting but dangerous – marketing can either kill or cure. Our CEO Stephen Greene, long term collaborators Chris Robinson (Co-Founder) and Darryl Cobbin with Larry Taman remote recorded this for KZSU Stanford University.
Obviously we started RockCorps when we were all 21....(Stephen Greene and Chris Robinson)
Sounds both exciting and dangerous and it is. We played around with this just now in the virtual studio, between San Francisco, Atlanta, Baltimore and London….joined by my long time brothers - Chris Robinson, Darryl ‘DC’ Cobbin and host of Brands, Beats and Bytes, Larry Taman. We were recording an episode of DC and Larry’s show that goes out on Stanford University Public Radio station, KZSU – and repeated as a podcast (listen here).
We talked about our favorite topic: RockCorps. If you don’t know (where have you been) RockCorps is a global, celebrity-endorsed program for brands based on the concept of ‘Give, Get Given’. Chris and I were among its co-founders and DC was the Chief Marketing Officer for Boost Mobile, our first sponsor and affectionally referred to as the 8th founder.
Thanking the Volunteers
As pioneers of one of the early branded pro-social platforms at scale, it could only be a short time before today’s pressing question would have to be asked: What should we do next?
The “Tsunami of Kindness” refers to the global, national and individual deep desire to want to take part, to contribute, to help to respond to this COVID world.
Now is the largest outpouring in our generational history. The story isn’t all good. That is why it is a Tsunami. I know from our partners in Japan just how painful this word this is… and have seen how a tsunami can both lift and destroy.
The network of non-profit, charity and even governmental systems and supply of meaningful projects to participate in globally, just isn’t there. Indeed, the systems may be crushed. The infrastructure of good work - desperately needs help. You see this now with a huge surge in fundraising, volunteering, gofund me campaigns and the like.
Over time there is more Demand to do Good than Supply of Places for this to go
Larry guided DC, Chris and me through an hour conversation to help make sense of the situation, to see the choices ahead and, most of all, to help brand owners and brand guardians to recognize their own power.
I have learned about future mapping from the work of a great human and friend, Jon Alexander. Option one, we come out of the other side and things return to some kind of normal. Consumption as a return to status quo, similar to the way things were, brands engage with some form of purpose-led activity but it’s not the main event. Option two, things get considerably worse. Marketing and positive impact get further apart from each other in an economically depressed, price-driven and commoditized world (the hunger games scenario). Or a third way. Brands step up like never before to help provide the infrastructure to the good intention. Brands collectively channel the Tsunami of Kindness and in doing so create the force needed for social and economic recovery. Business impact and positive world impact wholly merge. Re-invention becomes recovery.
RockCorps was created in 2005, beyond just me and Chris and included other key co-founders Grady Lee, Toby Garrett, Haley Moffett, Noel Eisenberg and Paul Hunter. Built on Grady and Toby’s original beautiful insight - its premise is simple: give 4 hours of civic service and get given a ticket to the concert of the year. RockCorps was part of the ascent of Kanye West originally and since has welcomed Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Pharrell, Snoop, Diddy, Busta and hundreds more to our stages.
Refining the Model
But it’s the model that holds the key.
The ‘Give, Get Given’ framework is the pre-cursor to how we take things forward from here. In describing the moments from our shared history, Chris talked about a non-profit leader from a community project in Atlanta in tears at the generosity of spirit being shown and the work accomplished in an after school math classroom. DC got to the details of how the brand and business case came about. The results were startling. Boost Mobile at the time was a challenger operator to the telco majors. By the time our era had finished, in valuation terms, Boost Mobile would have been the equivalent of a silicon valley unicorn. How much of that was RockCorps? – we would say quite a lot. As I interjected, "between Chris talking about tears and DC talking about valuations, what you see about this whole approach is a collision of the two”.
We tried to pull no punches. Hard-nosed community results and marketing ROI are the same thing. The current marketing cliche of ‘Acts not Ads’ is wrong. Larry, the show host, set the record straight ‘This is Acts AND Ads’. Building what had been said on the previous show with (the legend) Daryl ‘DB’ Butler, brands have to consider how they ‘serve’ while also being ‘self-serving’. Permission needs to be given to marketing’s core that it must continue to keep sales flowing, but different than before, as an integrated part of the solution in stitching our society back together.
DC re-affirmed this. Referring to his past in leadership positions for the Coca-Cola Company (VP Entertainment, leading the Sprite brand among other duties), DC described the arrival of ‘new media’ and ‘digital’ in the 1990s. If you didn’t understand and adjust everything in line with that trend line, your business and brand slipped back like never before. The need for brands to step up to harness the Tsunami of Kindness, he described, is 100X bigger. It’s time to knock down the doors of your CMO, of your CEO of your board - and get to work.
Today we are working on new plans for the largest consortium of brands alongside a national program of activity, each with its own tailored brand and community objectives. For the future leaders out there – this felt more than just a chat, it was a call to arms.
As is often the case, Chris wrapped it all up in a bow. As the creative force behind a list of credits ranging from Jay-Z and Beyonce to the White House, ranging from MTV, BET to Netflix, Chris talked of how he considers that for any given project, the real client is humanity itself. Humanity itself. Tech talks about being user-led. Marketing talks about being consumer-led. This was a higher expression of the same thing. In this respect, RockCorps role is clear - to set out a new idea and attract the truth towards it.
Written by Stephen Greene