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Special Project

Special Project
From the 4th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

PopSockets: Poptivism

Finalist in User Generated Content


When former philosophy professor David Barnett sold the first PopSockets grip in 2014, he committed to using these little life changers to do good in the world. The company grew rapidly, selling more than 100 million products during the first 5 years. However, we never waivered from our brand mission: Create a Positive Difference

In 2018, PopSockets sought to extend this mission to our entire network of customers and partners. We wanted to harness the popularity of the PopGrip and leverage each customers' talent, creativity and passion to deepen our collective impact. We developed an innovative philanthropy program called Poptivism. 

The program title “Poptivism” blends our brand name with the positive impact derived through activism. To succeed, Poptivism needed to deliver on our brand promises of self-expression, functionality and fun. Second, we needed to reach a national Gen Z audience – the generation most committed to positive impact. And third, we needed to give in a big way.

The program works like this: anyone can upload their own unique artwork to benefit any cause they choose. PopSockets puts their design on a PopGrip and sells the product via A full 50% of the sale price is donated to the Poptivist’s selected nonprofit.

We created Poptivism with as few barriers to entry as possible. It is entirely customer-driven. Designs, marketing and social media content is all generated by the user. PopSockets just does the giving!

Strategy and Execution

The Poptivism program rollout was segmented into four phases. 

  1. Influencer-lead marketing campaign 11/18 to 1/19
  2. Invite public participation 2/19 launch
  3. Bring Poptivism to retail partners 6/19 launch
  4. Expand Poptivism internationally 10/19 launch

During Phase 1, we worked with influencers to create brand-appropriate buzz primarily targeted toward a national Gen Z audience.

PopSockets enlisted 18 Gen Z influencers, activists and celebrities with a collective social media following of 97 million+. We did not ask influencers to promote our cause - instead, influencers chose the charity they felt most compelled to support. We then worked with each influencer to bring their creative ideas to life through individual PopGrip designs. PopSockets built website landing pages with unique links for each influencer. However, it was the Influencers who generated their own social media content that would speak directly to their own audiences.

Each influencer recorded short videos and about why they chose their charity and what their specific PopGrip design represented.  Videos were released through influencer social media channels, PopSockets’ social media channels and the PopSockets website.

Phase 2: At the 90-day mark, the Poptivism platform was opened to the general public. Now anyone can submit their own design for their chosen charity.

Through customer requests, PopSockets has more than 250 charity partners and customers have uploaded more than 4,000 designs. Customers and charities regularly create content to promote their PopGrip designs. There have been nearly 500 #poptivism Instagram uploads to-date. 

Phase 3: We continue to bring new influencers into the Poptivism program, adding 22 influencers, two media partners, two major retailers and several celebrity artists since February (all creating their own designs and content to reach their audiences).

User-generated designs, social media content and promotion have been essential to growing the program and driving awareness and donations. Customers, charity partners, celebrity influencers and others direct traffic to their individual and collective Poptivism product pages. The resulting sales are responsible for initiating PopSockets' charitable contributions. 

PopSockets is raising the bar on corporate giving by offering the program in perpetuity without any maximum donation cap.

Using your product to leverage donations is not a new concept in the world of cause marketing. However, offering your customer complete creative license to generate their own product, and 100% choice over how that product will impact the world is highly original.


The Poptivism launch met our primary objective to engage a network of stakeholders in our brand purpose. User-generated design and marketing content catalyzed Poptivism's rapid and ongoing growth and continues to be our primary marketing tool. 

Influencer authenticity was key. They spoke from the heart about their individual causes and encouraged a direct connection to positive impact via Poptivism. Customers are following their lead by posting their Poptivism grip designs on Instagram and Facebook, and telling their stories about how they are connected to their own causes. 

More than 3,000 customer-Poptivists have submitted 4,200 Poptivism designs over the past six months. At any given time, at least 1,000 Poptivism designs are available for sale (to benefit one of 250 charity partners) on our website and at select retailers. Nonprofit contributions have reached $548,000 and continue to grow daily. Direct impact statements have been collected from approximately 50 nonprofits that have received between $1,000 and $40,000 each.

To date, influencers and special Poptivists People Magazine + Entertainment Weekly have yielded more than 10 million impressions. 

Nonprofits have shared results such as: 

Poptivism's long-term positive impact is limitless.


Video for PopSockets: Poptivism

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