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News Analysis: Marketing... the possibilities are endless

When record breaking Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong launched his yellow Live Strong wristbands to promote cancer awareness, little did he know the force he was unleashing.

Diagnosed with cancer in 1996, Lance was able to recover from the disease and decided to promote his cause and raise $5,000,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which researches the disease. His way of doing this was to sell yellow wristbands (the colour reflecting not only his Tour de France winning jersey, but also because it is often seen as a colour of hope) and now more than 47 million have been sold worldwide.

Lance said: "The enthusiasm demonstrated for our Live Strong wristbands has not only given us an amazing and unanticipated platform to raise money for our programmes - it has also provided a lifeline to more than 32 million people who embrace our efforts. They have not been shy in telling us who they are, how cancer has affected their lives and expressing their gratitude."

But now these bands and others have become the biggest fashion trend this summer. Lots of other charities are using them to market their cause from anti-racism to Make Poverty History campaigns and many more.

And now, the marketing of recycling has got in on the act. Recycle for Cornwall is to give away black wristbands at the Royal Cornwall Show this week.

It is typical of the way recycling is being marketed as part of a fashionable lifestyle.

Recycle for Cornwall marketing co-ordinator Rebecca Rapson said: "As wristbands are so popular with young people, we thought it would have an impact. Over 120,000 people visit the show, so we will have traders and visitors wearing them and encouraging people to recycle.

"This has been done by national charities, but not done locally. Black bands have not been used yet in national campaigns, and the colour also reflects one of the colours in the black and white Cornish flag."

She added that when thinking about the campaign, Recycle for Cornwall looked at other marketing methods. This included giving away stickers and their already highly popular jute bags, but they decided that the bands were a really excellent way of giving high prominence to what the campaign is trying to achieve.

While Cornwall have been quick off the mark, there is always a danger of marketing campaigns like this backfiring if it is done when the trend is on the wane.

Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) head of communications and public relations Julie Parry warned: "It is important to get in there early with fads as they often have a limited shelf-life. Getting in there late can be seen as trying to jump on the bandwagon and then it loses its impact."

She also advised of the dangers of negative publicity as sometimes this can have a negative environmental impact. Recycle for Cornwall was aware of this and ensured that they had certification from the manufacturers of the bands that they were produced using ethical working conditions and were made from recyclable, non-toxic materials.

Cornwall's use of the trendy wristbands as a marketing tool demonstrates the increasingly sophisticated marketing being used in the recycling industry.

Last year's television advertisements for Recycle Now and commissioned by WRAP were a step forward for the sector. Not only was this the first time that recycling had been actively advertised on television, but it also tied together national and local campaigns to boost effectiveness as well as using techniques designed to boost word-of-mouth and copycat marketing.

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