There’s a special kind of excitement that comes from earning the trust of a large national account. Imagining the impact it will have on your reputation, revenues, growth (both financial and educational), valuation, and team morale is enough to get the heart racing. And when you get to know your client and discover they are beer-worthy (the kind of people you’d grab a beer with if they weren’t your client), high fives and ticker tape parades will follow.

An even smaller subset of these large, beer-worthy clients focus on strategy first and understand that price and value are two distinctly different things. These types of clients rarely let the relationship end up on autopilot, and they appreciate QBR’s that keep strategies and tactics aligned.

Is it naive or unrealistic to think that there are prospective clients like this that also share our values? Can we seek out clients whose employees are so engaged in the organization’s mission that they stick around and contribute to the partnership in ways that show results that really do matter to them? Brand Fuel is fortunate to have found such a partner in American Cancer Society (ACS).

As a leading cancer-fighting organization, ACS has over 2,500 dedicated employees in 59 regional offices, creating a presence in over 5,000 communities across the US. This 110-year-old organization has a vision to end cancer as we know it, for everyone. They are dedicated to improving the lives of people with cancer and their families by delivering lifesaving patient support programs and services, funding research to the tune of $400 million a year (50 Nobel Laureates have received funding so far), providing 24/7 information (over 250,000 calls/chats a year through its National Cancer Information Center), funding public health education campaigns, and hosting events such as Relay For Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in local communities. ACS receives no funding from the US government and all monies raised are from personal and corporate donors – the majority raised by and from individuals who have been impacted in some way by cancer.

We believe it’s possible to use branded merch as a force for good, and our partnership with ACS is an example.

Brand Fuel’s recent B Corp Certification, with its focus on people and planet, is the latest stop on our 25-year journey to become a business that gives back as much as it can while remaining a healthy company. And our partnership with American Cancer Society aligns well with this focus. When we launched ACS’s Shop.Cancer.Org Online Store, it was to highlight the organization’s new branding and give employees, volunteers, and board members a sneak peek and an opportunity to shop early. The next phase will focus on more retail-oriented products with creative designs like “Hope,” “Survivor,” and “Fighter.”

The store is a destination for the various ACS audiences and merch channels, a one-stop shop for those on the cancer journey themselves or those impacted by cancer. Our goal is to help raise funds and awareness by pulling in many new supporters – and we’re counting on great products, a comprehensive marketing and SEO strategy, and working hand-in-hand with ACS’s Marketing team to get there. And, importantly, Brand Fuel is helping raise funds by donating a portion of each sale back to ACS, facilitating easy donations on the site by consumers, and introducing ACS to industry partners that can help spread the word.

The successful launch of the ACS online store was preceded by a very special kit that was mailed to ACS’s Board of Directors and the Executive Team*. 

The goal of the direct mail strategy was to get the top leadership at ACS to dial into the types of quality products we planned to launch with, and excited about the new brand energy and vision we were bringing to the project.

We were able to bring a Phygital aspect to the kit by inserting an NFC chip into the new sword we embossed on the cap of the stainless steel bottle, turning a quality piece of merch into a donation vehicle when activated. We also used a QR Code on an inserted letter to drive the recipients back to the NEW site. The other items were selected based on their quality, sustainability, and shared DNA with ACS’s new brand voice. Our goal was to give these gifts the power to drive connection to ACS’s new visual identity and tagline – Every cancer. Every Life. A JBL speaker was included because of music’s power to connect and heal, a 3-pack of jotters to collect stories and notes, a safe-in-the-sun kit from Sun Bum, and high-quality active apparel from johnnie-O.

See how we get decoration done!

Since the site’s launch, we have added new merch and we’ve collaborated on many new projects, including Lights of Hope and other ACS Cancer Action Network projects. Donor recognition and donor redemption programs have also been a big success.

After 25 years, we are extremely humbled and thankful to be able to work with mission-driven organizations like ACS. The mission, culture, and values alignment coupled with our goal of using merch as a force for good with the ACS relationship is what fills our cup. Matter of fact, it runneth over. Our team has enormous pride in this growing partnership. They’re excited to contribute in their own individual ways and feel invested in making sure the program is successful for all stakeholders.

Twenty-five years ago, our sales team made finding “beer-worthy” clients a goal. Today, while a good beer with a great client still checks a lot of boxes, we’re reaching higher. And while we’ve always said “no” to companies or industries that didn’t align with our values, today we’re proactively seeking relationships with companies we feel a connection to and respect. This strategy will define Brand Fuel’s future – to act as a force for good in our industry, and our partnership with ACS is helping us get there.

We are grateful for our new friends and partners at American Cancer Society, for welcoming us into their world and helping us create a meaningful relationship that makes a real difference in the world.

With ACS’s direct mail campaign, Brand Fuel was named a finalist of PPAI’s 2024 Pyramid Awards – an award honoring creative excellence in the promotional products industry and recognizing dependable suppliers, outstanding promotions, creative campaigns and exceptional craftsmanship by PPAI members.

*Learn more about the ACS rebrand kit experience here: