Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2006

Top 5-Bottom 5 Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns

It Was a Pretty Good Year

Since my first posting on October 17, I have reviewed about 20 cause-related marketing campaigns or promotions. As it turns out about third have come in for criticism and third for praise and I’ve been neutral on the final third.

For this last post of 2006, I review the five best and the five worst cause-related marketing campaigns. To be fair, I haven’t directly reviewed the Red Campaign, which seems to have sucked from the atmosphere all the cause-related marketing oxygen.

A few more I just haven’t gotten to yet; for instance, Circuit City’s Firedog service, for instance, as well as an interesting campaign from the electrical utility Rocky Mountain Power. Montblanc did a campaign with opera starlet Katherine Jenkins that was so like the one they did with Nicolas Cage that I choose not to address it. And there are some others.

In other words, it’s not an exhaustive list.

Nonetheless here is top-down and bottom-up the best and the worst cause-related marketing ca…

Home Depot Gift Card Promotion for the USO

Soldiering Through the First Quarter Blues
It’s the day after Christmas in the States and the malls and stores are full again, this time with people returning gifts, but also people spending the gift cards they got yesterday.
Gift cards, or stored value cards, are a growing Christmas gift trend in North America. Before the holiday, the National Retail Foundation projected gift card sales would balloon to $24.81 billion in 2006, a $6 billion increase over 2005’s $18.48 billion.
Consumers like gift cards because they maximize their choices. Retailers love them because “Unused Gift Cards Give Retailers $8 Billion Boon,” to quote a recent headline from the E-Commerce Times. That is, one-third of the value on those gift cards is never redeemed and falls to the retailers' bottom line. Nice, eh?
So it’s something of a curiosity that Home Depot ran this cause-related marketing ad in a flyer that came with the local newspaper on Saturday, December 24.
Here’s the offer. Use a Home Depot gift ca…

Your Charity Should Be So Lucky

Recently both the Chicago Tribune and the Chronicle of Philanthropy (registration required for both) have published stories critical of cause-related marketing.

The Tribune article, by Blythe Bernhard (free here), came at the end of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the States. She mentions products that carry a breast cancer cause-theme: KitchenAid, tweezers, Serta mattresses, Quilted Northern toilet tissue (illustration is from October 2005), and others. And, she makes it clear that these promotions can be effective at moving product off the shelves.

But she also derides a promotion by 3M in 2004. The company spent $500,000 putting up a 7-story pink ribbon, made of Post-It notes, in New York City's Times Square. 3M also made a $300,000 donation to a breast cancer charity. The implication is that all $800,000 should have all gone to a worthy charity rather than frittering away 5/8ths of it on a cheap publicity stunt.

If it was my charity I'd want all $800,000. B…

How to Find a Charity Partner for a CRM Campaign

The 411 on Locating a Cause Right for Your Company
Suppose you’re a community-minded company and you’re considering launching a cause-related marketing campaign, but in a world of causes, no cause is much more appealing than the next. Who do you partner with?

This question came to me while I was looking at the back of a bottle of 505 Southwestern Organic Green Chile Sauce. 505’s sauces are certified USDA Organic, which means according to 505 Southwestern’s website that it contains at least “95 percent organically produced ingredients.”

While the organic seal caught my eye, so too did the little pink ribbon, emblematic in the States of the breast cancer causes. 505 Southwestern gives a “portion of every sale” to the fight against breast cancer. Regular readers know how critical I am of that language. Last year 505 Southwestern generated $35,000 for breast cancer research.

Given their sensitivity to organic products, why did 505 Southwestern choose breast cancer for its cause-related market…

Join Cause-Related Marketing, Get a CRM Tool You Can Use Now

Kind Readers:

Joanna F. is the latest person to join the Cause-Related Marketing Googlegroup.

You can join, too. When you do, each new posting to Cause-Related Marketing comes directly to your email box.

As an inducement, everyone that joins receives a copy of the "Five Flavors of Cause-Related Marketing" which explains Cause-Related Marketing in an easy-to-follow matrix and includes examples. It's a great brainstorming tool and helps ensure that your campaign has all the bells and whistles appropriate for that flavor of Cause-Related Marketing.

To join, simply send me your name, your email address, city and country to The city and country thing is important because it helps me know for whom I'm writing.

Your privacy is important to me, so be assured that I will never sell your name or email address to any third party.

Warm regards,

Paul Jones

CO-OP FInancial Services and Children's Miracle Network Roll Out an Old-School CRM Campaign

An Old Campaigner Returns to the Dance Floor

Right now in the United States ballroom dancing... of all things... is hot, hot, hot.

It seems that everything old is new again. For instance, Children's Miracle Network, where I spent seven years, is the beneficiary of an old-school cause-related marketing campaign of the kind I haven't seen from them in years.

To be fair, the staff at Children’s Miracle Network has forgotten more about cause-related marketing than most practitioners will ever know. I mean that literally.

Perhaps 12 or 13 years ago they deliberately started scaling back the amount of garden-variety cause-related marketing they do. Back in the day Children’s Miracle Network was the king of cause-related marketing in the United States.

To cite just one example, Children’s Miracle Network had a whole themed FSI to themselves that came out the exact weekend of their annual telethon, which aired on about 215 TV stations in the United States and Canada. Nowadays the only stat…

Sales Incentives and Cause-Related Marketing

Sprint and Motorola Campaign for Red

Many cause-related marketing campaigns require consumers to buy something. Maybe it’s a rubber bracelet. Or a plush toy. Maybe it’s a dessert special or music CD, or some kind of service.

While some people will just buy the cause-related marketing product or service without being prompted, usually they won’t. Like life insurance, and a tie that goes with the suit, sometimes cause-related marketing isn’t bought, it’s sold. (Packaged goods being a notable exception.)

I was reminded of this the other day when I was in my local Sprint store. Sprint Nextel is third-largest wireless telecommunications provider in the States, with 52 million subscribers. Along with Motorola, they are among the sponsors of the Red campaign. When you sign up for service and purchase a themed MotoRazr or Motoslvr phone, Motorola and Sprint jointly donate $17 to Red’s efforts to eradicate AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in Africa.

I know this because they had a dandy little displ…

Join Cause-Related Marketing, Get a Cool Cause-Related Marketing Tool

Kind Readers:

Kate A. from Boston is the latest person to join the Cause-Related Marketing Googlegroup. I invite you to join, too.

When you join, each new posting to Cause-Related Marketing comes direct to your email box.

As an inducement, everyone that joins receives a copy of the "Five Flavors of Cause-Related Marketing" which explains Cause-Related Marketing in an easy-to-follow matrix and includes examples.

It's a great brainstorming tool and helps ensure that your campaign has all the components appropriate for that flavor of Cause-Related Marketing.

To join, simply send me your name and your email address to

Your privacy is important to me, so be assured that I will never sell your name or email address.

Warm regards,
Paul Jones

Never Sell Title Sponsorships, (Unless You Have To)

Toys for Teens

It’s Christmas time in the States and American’s open their hearts and their wallets to causes of all kinds.

Since the early post-WWII years, one of the organizations that Americans have responded to generously is Toys for Tots, now known as the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. In 2005 they took in $233 million in receipts and gave out $221 million in toys.

The original mission was to give at least one toy to a child orphaned by the war at Christmas time. As the orphans grew up, the mission changed from giving toys to war orphans to giving them to children in poverty. Toys for Tots remains very much a military operation. Here’s their stated mission, for instance:

“The mission of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is to raise funds to provide toys to supplement the collections of local Toys for Tots coordinators; defray the costs of conducting annual Toys for Tots campaigns; provide administrative, advisory, financial, logistic and promotional support of local coordinators; pro…

In Case You Wondered...

... It Works, Cause-Related Marketing Works!

The Utah Food Bank is a monster of cause-related marketing in my state this time of year. The need for food is slightly higher in this season, but the fact is they use the generosity of the Christmas season to generate food donations that will see them into next summer; that’s one of the reasons why they ask for canned goods.

To cite just a few examples, right now all the TV advertising for Jiffy Lube, the quick oil-change outfit with 70 locations in the state, highlights their long-standing relationship to the Utah Food Bank. TV ads on behalf of the Utah Food Bank are also airing from Smiths (a grocery chain that’s a part of Kroger), Wells Fargo (a national bank), and Siegfried & Jensen (personal injury law firm), among others. There’s also direct mail campaign provided by the sponsors, and newspaper and radio ads. I haven't seen it yet, but they usually do a publicity stunt for public relations purposes as well.

I’ll do a fuller revi…

Wise as Serpents, Harmless as Doves

Circuit City-Mary J. Blige Duet Album for Boys and Girls Clubs of America
Throughout November 2006, Circuit City diligently promoted its exclusive deal with Hip Hop Soul artist Mary J. Blige called Mary J. Blige & Friends that benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in commemoration of their centennial year. The recording features the appealing Blige in duets with an impressive array of artists include Sting, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, Elton John, Santana, and others.

Given the season, you’d expect this to be a charity Christmas album. But it’s not. Evidence, I think, of the creativity of the dealmakers at Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

The offer is straightforward. The album is ‘specially-priced’ at $16.99 for a two-disk set, and “all proceeds benefit Boys and Girls Clubs of America.” I’m almost always critical of the ‘proceeds’ language as being too vague to be helpful. The last research I saw on this said that consumers prefer more concrete language.

But I’m not here to criticiz…