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A Brand With Built-In Social Responsibility: The Information Blanket [Part 2]

A Brand With Built-In Social Responsibility: The Information Blanket [Part 2]
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We had the opportunity to speak with Neil Powell, Executive Creative Director at BMB NY and the driving force behind The Information Blanket. Neil is currently in Uganda and sharing content from his trip that we will be republishing on PSFK.

Jeff Weiner
  • 25 may 2011

Read part one here: Innovation Stimulus And Creative Ideas: The Information Blanket

We had the opportunity to speak with Neil Powell, Executive Creative Director at BMB NY and the driving force behind The Information Blanket.  Neil is currently in Uganda and sharing content from his trip that we will be republishing on PSFK.

What was the inspiration for the blanket?

After our briefing from PSFK on their Future Of Health project for UNICEF, we narrowed our focus to attack infant mortality.  Or goal was to create an idea that would work on a global scale, be easy to make and distribute, didn’t require a new technology and is something every baby or parent needed. We found in our research that one of the key contributing factors to infant mortality in many parts of the world is a lack of education.  Many parents of newborns lack the basic knowledge needed to properly care for their babies.  Information such as feeding frequency, infant growth measurements, high temperature and vaccination scheduling are often not communicated or understood by these mothers.  The question became, what is the vehicle that could communicate this information in a unique, memorable way and is something that both baby and parent could use? As a team we discussed what it’s like to be a parent of a newborn.  All the simple questions you have, but can’t quite recall the the right answer.  We thought, wouldn’t be great if that information was somehow right at your fingertips.  We also brainstormed on what are the basic thing every baby needs to survive.  Food and protection from the elements topped our list. It then occurred to us that most babies, regardless of socio-economic status, race or ethnicity, have a blanket of some sort.  We connected the dots from information to blanket and thus, the information blanket was born.  Every baby needs a blanket.  Every parent of a newborn need the basic information on how to care for their baby.  The Information Blanket provides both.

What is the higher mission for the product?

Our goal is to build The Information Blanket into a brand.  The product we make is unique and something no new parent should be without.   We’ve designed an English language version of The Information Blanket and intend on making it the must have/must give gift to parents of newborns.  These blankets are available on our website right now, and will hit select retail stores in July.  We will then use the proceeds to create blankets for babies and mothers in other parts of the world where the infant mortality rate high, starting in Uganda.

Tell us about your experience thus far in Uganda.

We are currently on the ground in Uganda this week distributing our first 1000 blankets.  These blankets feature information written in Lugandan, the most commonly spoken dialect in Uganda.  We are working with Shanti Uganda, a local NGO, to distribute to mothers and newborns at their birthing center in Lusana Town, about 2 hours north of Kampala.  There, midwives will be able to explain the content of the blanket to the mothers to maximize the effectiveness.  We’ve also introduced the blankets to the maternity ward at Milago Hospital in Kampala with overwhelming results.  The conditions in the hospital are heartbreaking and the mother have so very little.

Tell us about your plans for sharing this blanket with the world and your matching program.

Our business model is somewhat similar to that of Tom’s Shoes.  We are a for profit company, with the vast majority of the revenue going back into fulfillment of our Ugandan program. When you buy The Information Blanket on our site or at retail in the States, we will match that purchase by providing a blanket to a mother and baby in Uganda.  It’s a built-in social responsibility element that compliments the uniqueness of the blanket nicely.

Thanks Neil!

You can learn more and purchase The Information Blanket here.

On Twitter: @infoblanket

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