When Government is the Sponsor

In Time, Sports Illustrated and other magazines there’s been a series of ads running in hot rotation and in support of a website called ‘Takemefishing.org.’ The ads and the website are sponsored by Markel Insurance Company, which insures boats and other things and a slightly murky entity called ‘Sport Fishing Restoration.’

Takemefishing.org is so declarative it’s easy to guess what that’s about. But Sport Fishing Restoration? Therein lies a fish story about the financing of World War Two, habitat restoration and government funded cause marketing.

In WWII, Congress enacted a tax on fishing tackle to help fund the war effort. By 1950, the law was changed so that tax revenues would go to state natural resource agencies to improve sport fishing. Stuff like fisheries research, boat docks and ramps, habitat improvement and education.

In 1998 Sport Fishing Restoration founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) with members of the recreational fishing and boating industry. The Foundation’s board members come from industry and state fish and wildlife agencies. Takemefishing.org is the public website for the RBFF.

This isn’t transactional cause marketing, per se. But it is an example of a public-private sponsorship that relies on the principles of marketing to promote a cause, namely recreational fishing and boating. Industry wants people buying boats and fishing gear and such. Governments want the excise and sales taxes. And wildlife habitats get restored or reinvigorated.

Takemefishing.org joins three government sponsored efforts that are distinctly cause marketing: the very successful semipostal breast cancer stamp from the US Post Office; the annual Red Dress campaign from HeartTruth, an effort of the National Institutes of Health; and specialty coins from the US Mint benefiting the National Federation for the Blind.

It’s not common, but it could be that some government agency is the next sponsor of your cause marketing effort.

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