Skip to main content

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 the direct benefit of the Third World.
In this ad that ran in Parade Magazine on Nov. 5, 2006 Yuban is promoting a blend of coffee certified by the Rainforest Alliance, a New York City-based nonprofit whose mission is to “to protect ecosystems and the people and wildlife that depend on them by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.” You gotta admire that kind of ambition from an outfit with a $12 million budget.

The Rainforest Alliance criterion for sustainable agriculture runs to 41 pages. They have additional criterion for bananas, citrus, coffee, cocoa, pineapple, and flowers & foliage. The coffee addendum is an additional eight pages and covers things like the minimum number of native species of trees required per hectare, shade density, irrigation canals, slope, fertilizer, child labor (which is allowed only if they don’t have school obligations and they must be paid in cash), native habitat remediation, etc.

This is tricky stuff because there’s a natural tendency to want to try and include everything.

I have some personal experience with nonprofit certification. While I was at Operation Kids I created the criteria to be an “OK Charity.” After a lot of hard-chair thinking and reading I came to the idea of the Code of Honor required of students at places like the College of William and Mary, the US Service Academies and Brigham Young University (BYU). At West Point the code reads: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” By contrast, the honor code at BYU, is much longer and more inclusive. When I got to the end of the process, the OK Charity criterion was relatively short. But still it has teeth because it includes a (succinct) honor code of its own patterned after the one West Point uses.

In contrast to the detailed all-inclusive certification criterion from the Rainforest Alliance, there’s a second, better-known (and less ambitious!) certification outfit in Europe called Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International. There’s more to it than this, but basically they set a minimum price for coffee (plus, bananas, cocoa, etc.). To receive Fairtrade certification a purveyor has to pay the producer a nickel per pound above that price, .15 cents more per pound to receive the organic certification. They also certify the producers as well.

I don’t know which certification approach will win the day. But I understand that during the Dark Ages Catholic monks tried to enumerate every possible sin. Ultimately the Christian world ended up not with an exhaustive catalog of sins, but with the broader categories outlined by the “Seven Deadly Sins.”
And so I wonder, does Vanity describe the Rainforest Alliance's approach?


Popular posts from this blog

Three Ways to Be Charitable

I’ve spent a big chunk of my career working with or for charities. Many of my dearest and ablest friends are in the charity ‘space.’ And the creativity and problem-solving coming out of the nonprofit sector has never been greater.  Although I’ve had numerous nonprofit clients over the last decade or so, I haven’t worked in a charity for about 12 years now, which gives me a certain distance. Distance lends perspective and consequently, I get a lot of people asking me which charities I recommend for donations of money or time. My usual answer is, “it depends.” “On what?” they respond. “On what you want from your charitable activities,” I reply. It sounds like a weaselly consultant kind of an answer, but bear with me for a moment. The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas and means “from the heart,” implying a voluntary act. Caritas is the same root word for cherish. The Jews come at charity from a different direction. The Hebrew word that is usually rendered as charity is t…

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Five Steps To Nurture a 30-Year Cause Marketing Relationship

Last Monday, July 22, 2013, March of Dimes released the annual results of its campaign with Kmart... now in its thirtieth year... and thereby begged the question, what does it takes to have a multi-decade cause marketing relationship between a cause and a sponsor?

In the most recent year, Kmart,the discount retailer, donated $7.4 million to the March of Dimes, bringing the 30-year total to nearly $114 million. March of Dimes works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Too many cause marketing relationships, in my estimation, resemble speed-dating more than long-term marriage. There can be good reasons for short-term cause marketing relationships. But most causes and sponsors benefit more from long-term marriages than short-term hookups, the main benefit being continuity. Cause marketing trades on the trust that people, usually consumers, put in the cause and the sponsor. The longer the relationship lasts the more trust is evidenced.

There's also a sponsor finding cost that…