Skip to main content

HeartTruth and the Red Dress Campaign

Government and Cause-Related Marketing

My Feb. 6 posting was about the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. This posting will be about the AHA’s stable mate in the Red Dress campaign, the National Heart and Lung Institute of the National Institutes of Health… aka HeartTruth… which falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Up until now, all my postings have been about cause-related marketing relationships between corporate and not-for-profit entities. Strictly speaking, the Red Dress campaign doesn’t raise money for the government or its programs, so it’s probably more appropriately called social marketing than cause marketing.

But because the campaign borrows liberally from the best practices in cause-related marketing and because some of the elements of the Red Dress campaign do raise money for nonprofit entities, I’m covering the highlights here.

In the United States heart disease kills more than 330,000 women a year, far and away the most common cause of death for American women. HeartTruth was launched under the auspices of National Heart and Lung Institute in 2002 after a meeting of experts was convened in March 2001 and charged with finding a way to raise the profile of heart disease among women.

The Red Dress was chosen as the icon or symbol for the HearthTruth campaign after it tested well in focus groups. The American Heart Association (AHA) started its complementary “Go Red for Women” campaign in 2004.

On the corporate side campaign elements include: FSIs (Free-standing inserts. See above.); multiple celebrities; packaged goods promotions; retailers which serve as distribution points for health materials and information; women’s media (Catalina, Essence, Glamour magazines, plus titles like Parenting, People, Health, etc., and Lifetime Television); information available at dioramas in shopping malls operated by General Growth Properties; and more.

There are also a number of events: the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York; National Wear Red Day on Feb.2; the First Ladies Red Dress Collection at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; and others. Since the campaign’s start, a number of red dresses have been designed for the campaign by leading designers. If you find a sponsor, HeartTruth will bring the Red Dress collection to your city.

The campaign does generate money. For instance, when you enter a promotional code from a box of Cheerios, $1 goes to WomenHeart, a patient education coalition of more than 35 organizations. Likewise, tea maker Celestial Seasonings has a campaign that generates funds for WomenHeart, as does retailer Crabtree & Evelyn.

The campaign does have its curiosities. For instance, the red dress from the AHA’s Go Red for Women campaign is more stylized than the one for HeartTruth. The AHA almost certainly did that so as to build equity in their own icon.

It’s also amusing that the HeartTruth website, which is owned by a government entity, shows the websites of the corporate partners, but won’t hyperlink to them.

Finally, there is the issue of ‘coopetition’ between the American Heart Association and HeartTruth. I expect… although I don’t have any firsthand knowledge… that the AHA requires Go Red sponsors to meet certain minimums to participate in the campaign. Whereas participation with HeartTruth is probably free.

The Cheerios sponsorship is potentially worth $500,000 to WomenHeart. So the American Heart Association has to be asking itself why that money isn’t coming its way. If there’s no good answer then it’s time for the AHA to take a long reflective look at its campaign. Otherwise, Go Red may have some defectors to HeartTruth.

Agree or disagree, please feel free to comment.


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…