This doubletruck FSI page from August 10, 2008 is more a promotion than a cause-related marketing campaign. But there is a cause element. The page features pictures of kids heading back to school and promises that some lucky school is going to win $25,000.
School cause-related marketing in the United States is a well-trod path. Both Campbell’s and General Mills do it to great effect. Henkel could do a whole lot worse than emulate either one.
The promotion is not tied to sales of any of Henkel’s products. Rather it’s contest driven. You point your Internet browser to henkelhelps.com and write a 200-500 word essay on what your school could do with that lone prize.
For one school $25,000 is a meaningful amount. But for the promotion, one prize of $25,000 is almost a joke in a country where there are 55,965 public and private schools in grades K-12.
And the essay contest is almost certain to turn this into a pity-fest, especially when there’s just one winner. (If I were to lay early odds, I’d place my bet on some school from one of the areas affected by the Mississippi River flooding in June.)
Henkel did a similar campaign last July involving the cleanup of a community. In my review I found the campaign notable for its lax copyediting.
Here’s my free advice to Henkel and its agency: call a cause-related marketing professional. Call Barkley or Cone or Vert or…well… Alden Keene. But do get some help with your cause-related marketing. Because you’ve now got two strikes against you.
How can industries including the auto industry, car dealers, gas stations, banks and financial institutions raise their numbers and get the love back of the American Consumer?
Well Dr. Paul is here for you. And Dr. Paul wants to help you feel the love again. The good news is, it’s a simple 2-step program. But the first one’s a doozy.
Not to be flip, but if you’re a mortgage company and a big part of your business plan was to fudge the numbers and get people into mortgages they couldn’t afford… assuming you’re still in business…you need start by learning how not to screw your customers!
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to step two. You need some insurance.
Among the industries whose negative numbers have risen substantially are pharmacies and department stores. Those industries aren’t guilty of gouging people or engaging in underhanded business practices, per se. They’re guilty of selling stuff to consumers during a bad economy.
What kind of insurance can you get against a bad economy?
Well in an ingenious theoretical underpinning, developed by a professor at Brigham Young University (but like yours truly, an alumnus of The University of Utah) addresses the issue of whether companies can use philanthropy to bank goodwill and, in effect, draw on it when the mine caves in or the economy tanks.
Professor Paul Godfrey, associate professor of strategy at the Marriott School of Business, looked at the issue of whether corporate philanthropy would serve that purpose in his paper published October 2005 in the Academy of Management Review. In the study, Professor Godfrey teases out a new theoretical answer to the question, “can good deeds earn chits” or IOUs?
Proposition 1a: The greater the level of consistency between philanthropic activity and a community’s ethical values, the greater the positive moral evaluation among that community.
What he’s saying is: the more closely a company’s philanthropic activities line up with values of the company’s stakeholders the more highly that stakeholder group holds your company in esteem. If you don’t line up, then that stakeholder holds you in lower esteem.
For instance, a ‘green’ stakeholder at ExxonMobil probably doesn’t care how much money the company spends sponsoring opera.
Proposition 1b: The greater the level of opposition between philanthropic activity and a community’s ethical values, the greater the negative moral evaluation among that community.
Proposition 1c: Philanthropic activity that is neutral toward (neither consistent with nor opposed to) a community’s ethical values will generate a neutral moral evaluation among that community.
Proposition 2a: The greater the extent to which philanthropic activity is viewed by a community as a genuine manifestation of the firm’s intentions, motivations, and character, the greater the positive moral evaluation among that community.
Proposition 2b: The greater the extent to which philanthropic activity is viewed by a community as an ingratiating attempt to win favor, the greater the negative moral evaluation among that community.
Proposition 3: The greater the act-based positive moral evaluation and the greater the actor-based positive moral evaluation by a target community, the greater the positive moral capital generated by the philanthropic activity.
Proposition 4: Positive moral capital will mitigate the degradation in value firm’s relational wealth when bad acts occur.
Proposition 5: Positive moral capital will mitigate stakeholder propensities negative sanctions against the firm when bad acts occur. Specifically, levels of positive moral capital will result in fewer or less severe remedial, compensatory, or punitive sanctions against a firm by stakeholders.
Moreover, the change appeared to be insincere to pro-lifers, too.
Relational wealth is things like employees, brand, the trust of suppliers and partners, the legitimacy that communities and regulators ascribe to your company, etc.
Proposition 6a: Philanthropic moral capital will have the lowest Mens Rea value when it contradicts moral capital and assessments based on the firm’s behavior in other activities.
So when Professor Godfrey refers to ‘mens rea value’ in this paper, he’s talking about the way stakeholders or communities make a judgment about a corporate misdeed. If they think mens rea exists, than their judgment about the misdeed is different than if they think it doesn’t exist.
Positive moral value created by corporate philanthropy, then, serves as a kind of “character evidence” on behalf of the company.
Proposition 6b: Philanthropic moral capital will have moderate Mens Rea value when it reinforces moral capital and assessments based on the firm’s behavior in other activities.
Proposition 6c: Philanthropic moral capital will have the highest Mens Rea value when moral capital, assessments, or evaluations of the firm’s behavior in other areas are ambiguous or unclear.
Proposition 7: The optimal level of philanthropic activity will be higher for firms with higher levels of relational wealth (in absolute or relative terms) than for firms with lower levels of relational wealth.
Proposition 8: The optimal level of philanthropic activity will be higher for firms with higher firm-specific risk profiles than for firms with lower firm-specific risk profiles.
Proposition 9: The optimal level of philanthropic activity will be higher for firms with higher industry-specific risk profiles than for firms with lower industry-specific risk profiles.
Here’s the setup: for each item bought from the page in their circular to the left, the Rite Aid Foundation will donate $1 to local causes.
The last time I posted on this subject was a campaign from Irwin Union Bank, which would donate $50 in your name to any charity you designated when you opened a certificate of deposit account for $10,000 or more.
This Rite Aid campaign is different in that the putative donor can’t designate the charity to which the $1 would go. The Rite Aid Foundation bases its donations on funding requests it receives. So money only goes to local charities that make a request of the Rite Aid Foundation.
Moreover, to add a wrinkle, Rite Aid already has a longstanding relationship with Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) with which both parties are evidently happy.
The argument for partnering with a specific charity is that they have appeal or affinity that ‘any’ charity doesn’t. You can’t put ‘any’ charity’s logo in your materials. ‘Any’ charity can’t help you with promotional needs. ‘Any’ charity doesn’t have staff to call with questions or concerns. Etc.
The advantage is that you don’t have to pay a specific charity a licensing fee for using its marks. You don’t have the sweat a relationship with a specific charity; they make a funding request and if the money is there, you honor the request to some degree. You’re not a partner, you’re a donor. It’s a donation without a lingering obligation. (It’s ‘wham, bam, thank you Sam’ with neither partner wondering if the other will still love them in the morning.)
In my posting about Irwin Union Bank I suggested that this was a potential topic of study for academics. But in Rite Aid’s case, given their experience with CMN, they’re in position to say which works best for them.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they’d share?
The headline reads “Buy a Cookie, Save a Life.’
My reaction was, “Oh no they just didn’t!”
The ad was one of seven on a single page; the kind the sales staff bundles together and sells for a bargain rate. So I automatically assumed that maybe Cookie magazine had put it together. After all, no charity would dare suggest that the purchase of a $3 cookie would actually save a human life. It’s exploitive and, well, a lie. And, critics be damned, cause-related marketing is not about lying.
So I double-checked the Lord and Taylor website and listed on Sept 13 for what appears to be each of their stores is the following notice:
BUY A COOKIE, SAVE A LIFE
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This year, help Lord & Taylor support the launch of the highly anticipated children's charity, Cookies for Kids' Cancer, by stopping by any Lord & Taylor store starting September 13th* and purchasing an all-natural chocolate chip cookie. 100% of each $3 treat goes directly to helping find a cure for pediatric cancers- it's a delicious way to make a difference.
*Event subject to change or cancellation. While supplies last.
OK, maybe Lord and Taylor did this.
So a checked the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer site and found this:
Thank you for visiting! We are busy readying our site for launch and plan
to go live on September 1st. Be ready to get involved! Start thinking about
where you could hold a bake sale! Cookies for Kids' Cancer, along with your
support, will make the letter "C" stand for COOKIES and not cancer.
The campaign is cute enough. There are a few children’s cancer charities out there, but none are nationally prominent in the United States. A new one with a smart mission and good marketing might be able to make good headway. Lord and Taylor is venerable (even ancient) retailer stateside, so a cause relationship with them is a nice coup for a startup charity.
But if Cookies for Kids’ Cancer sanctioned these ads, they’re getting their cause-related marketing off on the wrong foot.
Name: Lynn Harris
Media Outlet/Publication: national women's magazine
Specific Geographic Region? No
Deadline: 6:00 PM EASTERN - August 22
Query: "Xmas in August! I'm compiling a (long) list of small-but-significant ways for readers to give charity/their time this holiday season. Seeking: (1) smaller or non-obvious charities readers may not have heard of, including specific programs (could be run by larger charities) with concrete/tangible incentives, e.g. "$25 gets 10 malaria-threatened children mosquito nets," "protects 1/2 acre of rain forest," "buys 5 blankets for children of incarcerated mothers." International, national, local, too, as long as it has broad appeal. (2) ideas for in-kind donations, e.g. places to donate your used cell phones and glasses (listed both of those last year, alas, so can't repeat). (3) ideas for not-so-random acts of kindness, like shoveling your neighbor's driveway. (4) Plus any other sneaky ways to give, like holiday shopping at Xwebsite that donates 10% of sales to XYZ cause. This was a hugely popular feature last year, so your helping ME can actually make a difference for jillions of others. Thanks! Lynn
This follows an earlier poll from IBM and covered in this space, that reported that corporate executives want to see more CSR, too, and were devoting resources to it.
The poll was part of a series spearheaded by Ragan that regularly queries some 439 corporate communicators in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
The communicators split almost evenly over the issue of who should run a company’s CSR efforts. Just about 50 percent it should be a standalone department that reports directly to the CEO. The other 50 percent said CSR should fall under either media relations, internal communications or marketing.
It would be a measure of the esteem that CSR holds in a company if it operated independently and reported directly to the CEO. But I wouldn’t hold my breath that that will happen soon or (if it does) last long.
[Remember: when the discipline of marketing first emerged in the 1950s and 1960s that function reported to the CEO. Nowadays marketing is more likely to fall under operations and therefore the president or COO.]
If I was running a CSR operation and my choice was to work under media relations, internal communications or marketing, I’d hold my nose and pick marketing. Corporate communications and PR staffs are like the athletes that finish sixth at the Olympic trials: nobody cares about them.
Not that marketing is a perfect fit. Hardly. But a company’s marketing operation has an actual budget in sharp contrast with the alternatives.
It’s interesting to compare the why of CSR between the corporate communicators and their bosses. The Ragan poll turned up four reasons why the communicators would increase CSR: 50 percent said it would enhance PR and corporate image; 40 percent said it would improve employee engagement; 7 percent expect it would grow sales and 4 percent say it would attract new employees.
By contrast, the CEOs see CSR has a business opportunity, not a chance to issue a press release. As an electronics CEO was quoted in the IBM study of CEOs, “Corporate identity and CSR will play an important role in differentiating a company in the future… This will make a big difference in new markets such as Russia and other Eastern European markets.”
Now we know why a CEO is more likely to start in the company’s mailroom than in its corporate communications office; too few communicators think like business people!
Back again with another reporter source request. In this case the reporter is looking for products whose sale benefits a medical or health charity. See the details below.
Paul Jones, President
Alden Keene & Associates
Summary: Products Benefiting Charities
Name: Leigh Ann Hubbard
Title: Managing Editor
Media Outlet/Publication: James Hubbard's My Family Doctor
Specific Geographic Region? No
Deadline: 5:00 PM EASTERN - August 18
Query: "For our November/December gift guide, I seek products for whichpart of the proceeds will go to health/medical charities throughoutNovember and/or December. The products must be available nationwide (online or in stores) and appropriate as gifts. Please include: (1)exact portion of proceeds going to the charity, (2) which charity, (3) price, (4) phone and Web ordering information, (5) which month(s) the charity benefit will apply. I may not be able to respond to everyone but will contact you if I'd like a sample. No phone calls, please."
The insert was placed in U.S. News’ annual rankings of children’s hospitals in the United States.
For those of you keeping score at home, there’s more than 70 current sponsors in that logo soup, several of which have been with CMN for nearly the full 25 years; notably Dairy Queen and Marriott. The logos are arranged roughly in order of current contributions.
Since 1983 CMN has generated more than $3.4 billion, or on average, about $136 million a year. While CMN has a successful direct mail effort, it’s less than 10 years old. And the cause does little if any major gifts fundraising or planned giving. Therefore, it’s safe to say that all but a very small percentage of that $3.4 billion total was generated through cause-related marketing, grassroots fundraising, or some variation thereof.
The reason that’s so is because of the interesting dynamic that exists between CMN and the 170 hospitals affiliated with Children’s Miracle Network. It goes almost without saying that in 1983 the hospitals did all the traditional kinds of fundraising available to them. So at CMN’s founding it couldn’t bring much value to the relationship if all it tried to do was compete for the same dollars with the hospitals it hoped to help.
Consequently CMN... which started out as a telethon charity... stumbled upon the jessant form of fundraising called cause-related marketing and found its niche. CMN was like Hernando Cortez who, according to legend, upon arriving in Mexico burned his boats so as to motivate his men. (The truth about Hernando Cortez and his ships is more complicated).
Once it started down the path of doing all cause-related marketing all the time, CMN had no way to grow other than to innovate. And they’ve done so reliably for a generation now. For instance, the two sponsors at the top of the heap of logos… Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club… do virtually no transactional cause-related marketing and yet together they raise more than $30 million a year for CMN’s hospitals.
As a result, while there are larger charities than CMN doing cause-related marketing, I don’t believe there’s another one that has raised more money via cause-related marketing only.
All this from a little charity not in New York or Los Angeles (or for that matter London or Tokyo) but in tiny Salt Lake City, Utah, founded and staffed largely by people from a state best known for its abundant natural beauty.
For cause marketers the story of Children’s Miracle Network is the story of David and Goliath. It’s the story of the little engine that could. It’s the story of the dragon-killer who was only a child. It’s almost Homeric.
The story of CMN’s success should have the same effect on other charity cause marketers that the story Roger Banister’s breaking the 4-minute mile has on middle distance runners. Ten years after Sir Roger ran a sub 4-minute mile in 1954 on the Iffley Road Track at Oxford University, a high school kid from Kansas named Jim Ryan ran the mile in 3:59. So have 40-year-olds. Some runners have bested it hundreds of times. Fifty-four years after Bannister broke the psychological barrier of the 4-minute mile, it is the standard for professional middle distance male runners.
Children's Miracle Network raising $3.4 billion in 25 years is the story charity cause marketers should tell themselves when they're feeling down because they can’t seem to get an appointment with a potential sponsor. Because if, in the early days, someone from Utah could get in to see a potential sponsor to talk about a kind of sponsorship and a charity that no one had ever heard of, you can probably figure out a way in, too.
The ad appeared in the June-July 2008 issue of Elle magazine. And down there at the very bottom of the ad is a pink ribbon and words that read in mice-type: “York is a proud supporter of the Young Survivor Coalition.”
York Peppermint Patties, a unit of The Hershey Company, is packaged both as individual units and in bags of multiple units, but the per piece price is generally less than $0.50. It’s cheap candy, in other words.
Do you need to advertise even cheap candy? Of course. Stop doing it for while and watch your sales drop. Does York Peppermint Patties need to advertise in Elle, a fashion magazine for young women?
It’s not a choice I’d have made, especially with this creative.
The headline… ‘70% Less Fat’… is certainly targeted to the audience. But the subhead… “(And they say there isn’t any good news anymore.)”… seems better suited for Modern Maturity.
And whether or not you buy the 70 percent less fat claim or not, the fact is they’re advertising candy… that’s certainly not sugar and calorie-free after all… in a magazine where every other page has pictures of skinny girls.
In fact, the best part of this ad is down about ¾” off the bottom of the page. It’s the part about York’s support of the Young Survivors Coalition, which works with breast cancer survivors under age 40. Such women have a higher mortality rate than their older peers and worries about things like fertility and the effect their breast cancer will have on young children, something their older sisters don’t share. And the Young Survivor’s Coalition is the only nonprofit in that specific space.
It’s an important mission, in other words, one that Hershey and York has supported since 2006.
So why soft-pedal the relationship with the Young Survivor Coalition? Why not double the point of the type and add an 8-word clause like this: “York is a proud supporter of the Young Survivor Coalition, the organization for young women with breast cancer”?
Category: Lifestyle & Entertainment
Name: Sarah Jio
Title: Freelance Writer
Media Outlet/Publication: Cooking Light
Specific Geographic Region? No
Deadline: 5:00 PM PACIFIC - August 8
Query: "For an article I'm writing for Cooking Light about Valentine's Daychocolate gifts that give back a portion of sales proceeds tocharity, I'm hoping to locate companies that fit this profile. "
We have a name for these people. When they send helpful pitches that are pertinent to this blog I call them PR angels. When they pitch me ideas that are off-topic, over-long, just plain dumb, or addressed to “Dear Alden,” I just call them idiots. (I think it’s clear from reading the blog that my name is Paul Jones. My company’s name is Alden Keene.) And I’m not talking about spam here either. Everybody on earth with an email account gets spam.
Editors and reporters have started to out the idiots. Heck, even PR people are outing the idiots. It's very chic to complain about PR idiots right now, and who am I to resist a trend?
I’m not going to out any idiot PR people by name. Although I reserve all rights to do so in the future. But to prove my point, here is a short list of subject lines that have appeared in my in-box over the last week or two:
- “Has Global Oil Reached its Tipping Point?” from a publicist at a major US newspaper.
- “21 Days to Creating Your Dream Life,” from a book publicist.
- “Shepard Fairey Auctions Exclusive HOPE Painting,” from a publicist for a painter.
- “BOARDFEST SNOWBOARD RAIL JAM GOES COED FOR BLIZZARD AT THE BEACH,” from an event producer. And yes, it came just like that in all-caps.
- Don’t Just Throw Your CRM Proposals Over the Transom. Don’t spam the company with your proposal. They have to be addressed to someone. And that person has to have agreed in advance to receive your proposal.
- Think Hard About the Relationship You’re Proposing. If you’re a small pet rescue charity in Ten Sleep, Wyoming you’re almost certainly barking up the wrong tree to propose a CRM campaign to ExxonMobil. That’s not to say that all successful cause-related marketing relationships are purely strategic. But very few of them are outrightly dumb.
- The Format of the Proposal Counts. In general no type should be smaller than about 20 points. Don’t use wacky fonts or weirdly-colored type. And you got keep it to 15-20 pages/slides or less. Only Tom Peters can get away with more than that. If it’s on paper; use the landscape format. Use pictures, and plenty of them, but make sure they’re dynamite and illustrate your cause and the campaign.
- Don’t Do Anything Rash When the Answer is No. Unless you’re Susan G Komen, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital if you get a form letter back telling you no, think very hard before you fire back something venomous. Cause-related marketing is a race. And as we know “the race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep running,” (see above).
Frequently this involves a private foundation that they control or that they hope to start. And, commonly, it also involves a product or service that they sell or manufacture and which will, according to the plan, benefit the charity that they control or want to control.
If they don’t know much about charitable tax law in the United States, they’re also hopeful that the cause-related marketing promotion will spin out a charitable tax deduction somewhere in there for them, too.
I smile broadly, tell them that I’m not a lawyer and therefore can’t render a legal opinion. If they don’t know any nonprofit lawyers, I’m happy to provide a referral. And then I tell them what they’ve described to me has the appearance of being ‘self-dealing,’ which is verboten under U.S. law.
And whether or not it amounts to self-dealing, as a cause-related marketing campaign it’s probably self-defeating.
If the company is called Acme Cereal and they do a cause-related marketing campaign for a nonprofit called the Acme Cereal Foundation for Children Who Don't Eat Breakfast and the addresses of both entities are the same and their websites and marketing materials are very similar, people are going to wonder if that’s all legitimate. As a result, such a cause marketing campaign isn’t likely to do terribly well.
I saw an ad in Newsweek Magazine for something called Kimmie Cares dolls benefiting the Partners for a Cure Foundation. The website URL is Kimmiecares.com and it sells dolls and books meant to help mothers explain to their kids what happens to them when they get cancer and undergo invasive medical treatment.
The dolls come in six different versions and four ethnicities. Each comes with 35-page illustrated storybook and two doll wigs and a scarf for $39.99. When you buy one an unnamed portion of the proceeds benefits the Partners for a Cure Foundation, which is the branding for kimmiecares.com. The entities, in other words, are plainly related.
I looked at the most recent 990 (tax return) that Partners for a Cure filed and in 2005 they raised $6,549. By law nonprofits don’t even have to file a tax return if they take in less than $25,000 a year. Partners for a Cure 990 in 2005 was prepared by Deloitte Tax LLP, which is kind of overkill for a $6,500 return.
Let me hasten to add that I have no knowledge of whether or not Kimmie Cares and Partners for a Cure are doing anything illegal or even untoward.
But I can say that their cause-related marketing sucks.