News & Views

Whirlpool / From Laundry to Learning

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world

Home appliance company boosts attendance in US schools by cleaning clothes

In the US, more than 4,000 students drop out of school every day. Those children go on to have a 40% higher unemployment rate, a 70% higher rate of government assistance and are more than eight times as likely to end up in jail. Home appliance company Whirlpool discovered that often kids were missing school because their families were too poor to clean their clothes.

Working with Digitas LBi in the US, the brand launched a programme to put washers and dryers in schools so that the kids could have their laundry taken care of. Care Counts piloted in 17 schools across two districts and Whirlpool plans to expand to more than 30 schools. A further 300 have expressed interest in joining the programme.

Each school principle has selected a trusted teacher, administrator or parent to act as a programme leader. It is their job to identify students to participate in the programme and anonymously track their laundry, attendance and grades throughout the school year.

The process of doing the laundry varies by school, but it is always coordinated by the programme leader. Many ask parents to come in and do the laundry for their children, signing up for time slots that fit their schedule. Whirlpool is also providing supplies like detergent and fabric sheets.

The Care Count site includes videos about the initiative, featuring students and teachers. The site also encourages people to donate to the Whirlpool Collective Impact Fund, a charity dedicated to expanding the programme.


Results /

In the first year, the programme saw 2,300 loads of laundry washed. More than 90% of tracked students increased their school attendance compared to the previous year, with some students attending the equivalent of almost two weeks longer. Teachers also saw increased class participation in 89% of the tracked students.



Contagious Insight / 

Making it emotional / This eye-opening campaign highlights how clean clothes are a privilege that a lot of people take for granted. The content is designed to give viewers a new sense of appreciation for being able to do their laundry, thereby creating an emotional connection with washing machines that wasn’t there before. The product, which is usually only thought about in functional terms, has been transformed into something much more meaningful.

Long-term purpose / Rather than being a one-off, flash-in-the-pan CSR campaign, the Care Counts programme aims to make a long-term positive impact, helping kids the education they need to pull themselves and their families out of poverty. Whirlpool has positioned itself a brand that cares about people and is serious about trying to make the world a better place. This should chime well with today’s consumers, who are increasingly looking for brands that stand for something.



This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world. I/O helps anyone in the world of marketing understand why brands are innovating, how they're doing it and with what success.

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