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Brand Builder

Episode 15 | Why Product, Not Purpose, is the Key to Effective Cause Marketing, Pt. 1 with Project 7 Founder Tyler Merrick

By January 8, 2018 January 15th, 2018 No Comments

Episode 15 | Why Product, Not Purpose, is the Key to Effective Cause Marketing

Part One with Project 7 Founder Tyler Merrick

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Tyler Merrick’s world changed when he heard the following two words for the first time:

“Social entrepreneur.”

Up to that point, Tyler had created a veritable pet food empire, providing dog and cat owners with gourmet, out-of-the-box food and treat combinations. But while the business was undoubtedly successful, it was anything but fulfilling for Tyler.

Then came a fateful conversation with a fellow socially-minded business owner, who opened his eyes to the concept of social entrepreneurship.

Tyler took the conversation to heart. He sold the pet food business not long after and launched Project 7, a gourmet specialty candy brand dedicated to creating one of a kind customer experiences while giving back to 7 areas of need. Basically, Project 7 comes up with totally out there flavors – like birthday cake flavored gum or moscow mule flavored organic gummies – and then partner with non profits who are making an impact both in America and abroad.

In part one of this two part episode, we embark on a journey of transformation with Tyler, and learn from his early mistakes building a consumer brand centered around doing good.


  • In social entrepreneurship, is your cause a lead actor or part of the supporting cast? Project 7 was founded on Tyler’s desire to bring more purpose to his life’s work. Finding the right way to position the causes he cared about involved a giant learning curve. Tyler shares how he found the balance that would allow the causes to shine and the business to flourish.
  • Stay lean. Think your business can’t reach the next level without hiring a bunch of CPG heavy hitters? Well, Tyler and Project 7 expanded to 12,000 stores with fewer than 10 full time employees. He shares a very specific tactic for figuring out whether or not you really need to make that next hire.
  • How to bounce back. One of the most interesting parts of Project 7’s success story… is that it could have easily ended. Tyler answers the question – how do you recover from the brink of failure?

Jump to

  • The origins of Project 7, and why Tyler felt the need to transition out of the pet food game and launch a CPG brand. 5:19
  • The right way to do cause marketing. 17:50
  • Tyler’s specific tip for knowing whether or not to make that next hire at your company. 24:55
  • The SNAFU that almost sunk Project 7. 30:00


Have an idea for the show? Drop us a line!

Brand Builder is a co-production of SnackNation and ForceBrands.

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