Fuzzy Cause Marketing

CA, the $4.3 billion (sales) software company has an interesting cause marketing campaign going right now benefiting the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) that is kind of a head scratcher. 

The campaign… which features celebrity crime fighter John Walsh… centers around CA’s Internet Security Suite Plus 2009 and Internet Security Suite 2009, both of which carry a premium price in a competitive market. When you buy either product CA makes a $1 donation to NCMEC. Customers may also elect to donate all or part of the rebate they receive to NCMEC when they buy the product.

The pertinent CA webpage also runs a ‘crawl’ of the names of people who have donated their rebate to NCMEC. It’s an interesting tactic, borrowed from telethons. I’d love to hear what feedback they get on this.

At the top of the page they also list the amount of money generated for NCMEC. The amount listed when I visited on Jan 2, 2009 was $462,586, which includes $375,000 in in-kind and cash donations made by CA to NCMEC.

So far, so good.

Here’s where it gets fuzzy for me. In CA’s language: “CA may elect to donate, in its discretion, an additional $2 to NCMEC when a new CA customer registers for the Continuous Protection Program.” 

I can’t figure out why they would make that discretionary.

Cause marketing trades on trust, clarity and transparency. The proposition is straightforward; ‘if you’ll do something, we’ll do something good for a cause.’ When you start to fuzzy up that proposition the appeal to the consumer breaks down.

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