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Shoffner: Building a global glass movement

Saga Shoffner

Owens-Illinois tapped Nike veteran Saga Shoffner to lead its “Glass Is Life” initiative in 2011. Glass container manufacturers were losing market share to alternative packaging suppliers, and the O-I executive team wanted to build a global movement that would underscore the value of glass and prompt brand managers to align their products with sustainability, health and quality.

“I knew, looking at it, that it was a big idea,” Shoffner says. “It’s a push to rethink glass as an option and choose it for the value that it brings. I took the job because of glass and ‘Glass Is Life.’ We make something, and it’s good for the planet.”

The VP-global marketing will discuss the initiative, which became an Effie Award finalist, at a BMA-Northeast Ohio event on August 20.

“Glass Is Life” launched as O-I worked to evolve from a manufacturing company to a global glass brand that partners with customers to differentiate their products on the shelf.  Shoffner and her team applied consumer marketing tactics to the initiative, developing a campaign microsite and a presence on social media channels. They promoted “Glass Is Life” at SXSW and in the pages of lifestyle magazines.

“We’re approaching [brand managers] as they live—as consumers,” Shoffner said. “If you’re talking about your product as a human and you’re speaking human truths, then you have an advantage.”

Overall consumer enthusiasm also helps drive demand for glass. The campaign Facebook page had garnered 15,000 likes in February. That number now has spiked to almost 250,000 likes. A graphic on the microsite allows visitors to track social media posts. O-I is working to deepen relationships with that audience, Shoffner says. “I would love to have consumers pull for more glass.”

The campaign microsite features customer video segments, with glass advocates speaking about how the material preserves the quality and taste of their products. Ocean advocate Celine Cousteau points out the health and environmental benefits of glass.

The initiative has helped to change the culture of O-I, Shoffner says. The company is launching a number of innovations and working more closely with customers to help differentiate their products. “We’re really rethinking what we’re doing.”

 
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