Why Aussie business Charlie’s Cookies wants to pour thousands of dollars into local projects and initiatives

Charlie's Cookies

An Australian cookie company has created an in-flight campaign that could see thousands of dollars flow to local organisations, including Indigenous cultural groups.

Charlie’s Cookies is an Australian-owned sweet treats wholesaler that provides in-flight snacks for Qantas. In 2014, the business employed 25 people and was approaching $5 million in turnover.

“We’d like to be a business that develops relationships beyond transactional,” Charlie’s Cookies managing director Ken Mahlab tells SmartCompany.

In late March, Charlie’s Cookies launched a “shared value” campaign where 5 cents from every pack of its cookies sold through the Qantas partnerships will be donated to an Australian social or cultural organisation.

One of these beneficiaries is the Bangarra Dance Theatre, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait
 Islander organisation renowned for its powerful dance and tech-enhanced theatrical performances.

The idea for the ‘Proud to Call Australia Home’ campaign came from the company’s sales director and co-owner, Jacky Magid, as the Charlie’s Cookies team searched for new ways to give back to the community.

“When you’re operating in a competitive environment, innovation or price are your choices and price seems like a really bad choice,” Mahlab says.

With Charlie’s Cookies’ core team having a long association in the not-for-profit sector, both at a personal and corporate level, Mahlab and his team are attempting to make social giving their competitive advantage.

When they realised how active their customer Qantas was in the community, they realised adding this “feel-good” snack range would be the right thing to do.

By speaking directly to to flight passengers, Charlie’s Cookies enhances the airline’s relationships with these local projects, promotes the social initiatives and generates its own brand exposure, Mahlab says.

The campaign will also see Charlie’s Cookies partner with OzHarvest, which runs the CEO CookOff fundraiser and Career Trackers Indigenous internship program.

With airlines rotating their product range every six months, Mahlab says Bangarra Dance Theatre is expected to benefit by up to $15,000 this rotation, which will run until September.

“But the true benefits for them is they’re going to be in front of 250,000 people,” he says.

It’s a contribution and partnership that makes Mahlab and his team incredibly proud.

“[Bangarra Dance] itself is the definition of shared value which means there’s something in the transaction for everyone involved,” he says.

Bangarra Dance Theatre executive director Philippe Magid welcomed the support the campaign will provides to Australian initiatives.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a long and meaningful association with Qantas, so this is a great opportunity for us to deepen our relationship and grow brand awareness with their customers via the Charlie’s Cookies snack box,” Magid said in a statement.

It’s a sentiment that gets to the core of Charlies Cookies’ mission, says Mahlab.

“We make cookies [but] we’d like to have an impact beyond just feeding people and we see this as an opportunity to do that,” Mahlab says.


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