Skip to main content

Effective Cause-Related Marketing is Just Blocking and Tackling

The Devil (in the Red Dress) is in the Details

I was at Rite Aid yesterday and bought a paper red dress for $1. It’s a small part of the American Heart Association’s admirably ambitious Go Red for Women campaign going on right now during "heart month."

Heart Disease, not breast cancer, is the number one killer of women. So to take some of the steam out of the many breast cancer charities, the Heart Association is doing for February what the breast cancer charities have done for October; brand it as their own.

And so, on the air, in retail outlets of all kinds, at events, in the print and electronic media Go Red for Women is almost omnipresent in the United States.

For instance, you can buy a Go Red themed book called “Kiss & Tell” in Macys stores. Kellogg’s has specially-packaged boxes of their breakfast cereal Smart Start in stores now. The jeweler Swarovski has a Go Red pendant on sale. Rite Aid… with 3325 stores in 27 states… and Key Bank… with 950 branches in 16 states… are both selling versions of the paper heart illustrated above. Go Red was even at Fashion Week in New York City with a celebrities modeling… what else?… designer red dresses.

There’s so much I can’t even list it all. But whoever’s running the Go Red campaign (the Heart Association calls it a “movement”), is smart enough to include an emotional component. Women are invited to share their stories online of how heart disease has affected them.

I am a huge advocate of these omnibus efforts (although certainly not every charity could pull it off). These large-scale efforts create a multiplier-effect that makes them bigger when combined than they would be separately. Brava, I say.

However, when I purchased the paper dress the clerk at Rite Aid tried scanning the icon; there’s a UPC code on the back. But it wouldn’t scan. The code as printed was wrong. “Oops,” she said, and she grabbed another piece of paper by the register with the correct UPC code and scanned it. I asked her about it and she said that rather than waste all the paper red dresses, they were simply scanning the correct code from the other paper.

While I admire the resourcefulness, it was a hiccup in an otherwise commendable campaign. The fact is, cause-related marketing, cause marketing, social marketing (or whatever you call it) is about 10 percent strategy and 90 percent execution. It’s mostly just basic 'blocking and tackling'.

For my readers outside North America, that's figure of speech from American-style football. (After all, the Super Bowl was on Sunday). It means that to play the game well you have to master the fundamentals.

In other words, someone at the Heart Association should have checked to make sure the paper red dresses had the right UPC code before they were shipped to Rite Aid.


Anonymous said…
Here is there is no
way Rite Aid is an
acceptable partner
for the American
Heart Association:

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…