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Showing posts from November, 2006

Tarnished Halos

Why Company-Named foundations Benefiting from Cause-Related Marketing Rub Me the Wrong Way.

Just this month I’ve seen cause-related marketing campaigns for McDonalds and the Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities; PETCO, and the PETCO Foundation; and, JC Penney and the JCPenney Afterschool Fund.

Two other general merchandise retailers, Kohls and Mervyns, run ‘charity-flavored’ campaigns through their community relations departments. The Kohl’s program, called Kohl’s Cares for Kids, supports child injury prevention and immunization programs, and children’s hospitals. Kohl’s Cares for Kids is not an actual charity, although like JCPenney Afterschool Fund it uses the sales of plush toys to fund their campaigns.

I don’t want this to be a 2,000-word post, so I’ll concentrate on the JCPenney Afterschool Fund. The organization, a 501(c)(3) public charity was formed in 1999 and “dedicated to ensuring that every child is safe and constructively engaged during the afternoon hours,” says the we…

High-Dollar Product Marketers, Jump-In!

High-Dollar Cause-Related Marketing Comes of Age

Cause-related marketing has long been especially common in packaged goods promotions; Wish-Bone Dressing and Make-A-Wish or Yoplait and Susan G. Komen, to name just two. But does cause-related marketing work with high-dollar goods and services? More and more the answer is yes.

Above are four recent campaigns… from Dell, Oreck, American Century Investments, and Levenger… that increasingly demonstrate that cause-related marketing has legs even when the items in play cost hundreds or dollars or more.

Let me hasten to add that none of these high-dollar cause-related marketing promotions are exactly ‘first-movers.’

Ford and BMW have both done cause-related marketing promotions.

Kitchen Aid has long made special editions of their appliances in pink that generate donations for Susan G. Komen. They’ve also done straightforward ‘buy a qualifying dishwasher and we’ll donate $50 to Susan G Komen’ promotions.

Whirlpool… which owns Kitchen Aid… donates a …

Les Schwab Tire Ad for Rotary Coat Drive

Huzzahs to Rotary and Kiwanis, the Un-Red

While everyone else is fawning over the new Red campaign, your humble servant is reviewing a very local campaign that gathers coats and winter items for the less fortunate here at home.

But wait, you’re saying, isn’t this out of character? Aren’t you the one who said that for cause-related marketing campaigns “sponsorship is about eyeballs, [but] the sisters of the orphans and all their charity cousins think it's about tears. When it comes to cause-related marketing, they're only half right.”?

Yes I did. And yes I still believe that. But I want to demonstrate that the principles of good cause-related marketing can scale up… as in the global Red campaign… as well as they scale down.

This ad, which appeared in the local newspaper on Sunday, November 12, 2006 wrapping the comics page is for Les Schwab, which sells tires. Les Schwab, headquartered in Prineville, Oregon has about 400 outlets in seven western US states. Their prices are competi…


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Yuban Dark Roast

Certification Exhaustion
A few years back a would-be client came to me with an interesting question: would people in the first world support cause-related marketing that served people in the Third World?

In their case, they were building children’s hospitals in Africa, Asia and Latin America. That sounds like a mountainous undertaking, but the fact is, you can build and equip a pretty darn good children’s hospital in Uganda, India or El Salvador for pennies compared to what it would cost in North America or Europe.

I didn’t have a ready answer for these folks, but I told them there were two ways to test the idea. Either they could commission a rock-solid probabilistic conjoint survey for $25,000 más o menos, or they could hire me to build them a campaign for the same amount of money and we’d test it in the marketplace.

I’m still not sure of the answer, but increasingly it seems that companies are willing to test in the marketplace the idea of cause-related marketing in the First World to…

Montblanc Nicolas Cage Ad

Seeing Through The Wicker Man Darkly

It’s almost impossible to overstate how much transparency matters in cause-related marketing.
It’s more important than the campaign's creative. It’s more important than the offer in the campaign's advertising. It’s more important than the appeal being made.

Here’s why. Americans are a ridiculously generous people when it comes to charitable giving. Much of that generosity is directly attributable to our tax laws, which encourage charitable giving. Part of it is attributable to the thinness of the public welfare net in the U.S., as compared to Europe or Japan. Some it can be attributed to our native “communal self-government,” first highlighted in Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America back in 1840.

What powers all that is trust. Americans trust charities almost implicitly. Even when they’re skeptical they trust that the Congress and the IRS, along with state and local regulators, will keep charity noses clean. And the IRS and the state r…

Crystal Geyser Label II

Remember What You're Paying for This Free Advice

All right, you’ve had your fun, you say. You’ve teased the folks at Crystal Geyser with yesterday's posting, so what would you do if your water was being sold in the discounter stores for pennies, Mr. Smart Guy?

I’m glad you asked. First, a disclaimer. I’ve never worked for Crystal Geyser or any of its competitors, although I did put myself through school working at a local Coca-Cola bottler. But this was before the days of Dasani.

I’ll also say that I have no special knowledge of the bottled water industry and I don’t know anything specific about how they target their markets.

However, if my brand had lost so much traction that I felt obliged to sell my products at Big Lots, I would take that as a sign that it was time to rethink my brand.

I hereby offer four ‘strategeries’ for rehydrating the Crystal Geyser brand, free of charge. It’s my pleasure. After all you’ve given me an awful lot of budget-priced water.

Really embrace the caus…

Crystal Geyser Label

Buck Up, Guys!

Some day I'm going to write the ultimate case study of the greatest cause-related marketing campaign ever. It raised hundreds of millions of dollars for a terrific cause and it went on for years with no fall-off in support. It generated tons of positive publicity and, if you're an American, chances are you physically handled it more than once. The most intriguing part of that campaign, however, was that it raised money by charging more money for the product.

Imagine that!

(Email me at if you want to know what the campaign was).

But I'm not reviewing that campaign today. Instead I'm reviewing a cause-related marketing campaign by Crystal Geyser, the bottled water people. Their chief selling point is that their water is bottled at the source, not trucked to a distant bottling plant.

Their cause campaign is a tree-planting program in conjunction with the American Forests, which has several of these kinds of relationships. Crystal Geyser wil…