The Sweet Side of Arts and Business (from the pARTnership Movement)
According to the 2013 BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts, 66% of businesses who do not currently support the arts report that they have never been asked to do so.
ProjectArt, an organization aiming to close the “access” gap in youth arts education, has taken that lesson to heart - and is now celebrating an innovative and successful partnership with Jacques Torres Chocolate for holiday and Valentine’s Day promotions that grew out of an exploratory phone call: ProjectArt asked.
Children and candy are a natural link, and the giving season is the perfect time to advocate for ProjectArt’s programs, which include art instruction, promoting art access through public libraries, and gallery exhibitions for their pupils, largely from low-income areas. Stickers attached to containers of the Jacques Torres malt balls promote that “one box of chocolate covered malt balls = one free art class for a child.”
Affectionately known as “Mr. Chocolate,” Jacques Torres founded his company in New York City in the year 2000. In 1988, he emigrated from France and became the corporate pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton, then served as executive pastry chef at Le Cirque from 1989-2000. Jacques Torres Chocolate is headquartered in New York, and the chocolate in manufactured in Brooklyn, establishing him as the quintessential American dream. A supporter of New York nonprofits, Jacques Torres has a personal passion for supporting youth initiatives, making ProjectArt’s proposal a perfect fit.
ProjectArt conducted market research and established metrics for their assets and achievements, then reached out to Jacques Torres Chocolate’s marketing team, using their metrics to tell the story about how their organization impacts children affected by the arts education gap. After Jacques Torres Chocolate positively responded to their pitch, ProjectArt reviewed the company's specific funding interests and suggested a collaborative product idea. In October, they decided to orchestrate a rush promotion for the December holiday period. According to Marion Prely of Jacques Torres Chocolate, the company was inspired to “share the love” for the organization and the children they aid.
The original price point of the malt balls was raised from $20 to $25, allowing the company to donate $5 from each sale to ProjectArt. The malt balls were sold in all four of Jacques Torres Chocolate’s New York locations (DUMBO, Amsterdam Avenue, Rockefeller Center, and Hudson Street) and in the company's two holiday pop-up shops on the Upper East Side. The product was easily recognizable, as the malt balls were adorned with large, colorful tags promoting the partnership. The company was active in using social media to spread the word, and ProjectArt engaged the public relations firm FleishmanHillard to work on the initiative pro bono.
Because of the first initiative’s success, Jacques Torres Chocolate and ProjectArt saw theirs as an enduring and mutually beneficial partnership. Jacques Torres Chocolate agreed to repeat the promotion for February as a Valentine’s Day push, this time using Hugs and Kisses chocolate biscuits. The success of the December holiday initiative has led to an expansion that will include online sales for the Valentine’s Day initiative.
The partnership continues to grow, as Jacques Torres has donated a cooking class for five individuals for ProjectArt’s upcoming gala. The promotion has resulted in press coverage in The New York Times and local news features, new audiences learning about ProjectArt’s work, and local businesses volunteering to similarly donate a percentage of sales to the organization.
ProjectArt executive director Adarsh Alphons thinks the partnership was successful because “it is easily replicable and scaleable.” For Jacques Torres Chocolate, the partnership has brought positive press coverage, built customer loyalty, and shows that the company actively gives back to the community. Adarsh Alphons wrote a note about ProjectArt on the Jacques Torres website, so both entities have helped one another in generating visibility and uniquely advocating for the arts.
(This article is one in a weekly series highlighting the pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)