Skip to main content

Rocky Mountain Power Cool Keeper Program

"All cause-related marketing is incentives." Milton Friedman, the late economist said that. OK, not really. He said to be an economist is to believe that incentives work. So call me an economist.

[Somebody please tell me where I can find the real quote. I seem to remember it but haven’t been able to track it down.]

Whether or not I’m remembering it right, it’s certainly true that cause-related marketing is based on the premise that incentives work.

We when think of those incentives, especially in the wake of the criticism surrounding RED, we tend to think that the incentives work only to encourage consumption. That’s only sometimes the case.

Rocky Mountain Power, an electrical utility that serves the U.S. states of Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho sent out this cause marketing driven offer in fall 2006. The offer goes like this: sign up for their Cool Keeper plan and the company installs a device on the air conditioner at your home or office which allows Rocky Mountain Power to shut down your air conditioner when electrical demand peaks.

If you signed up during the promotional period, Rocky Mountain Power sent a check for $25 to the school of your choice. Rocky Mountain Power also credits your account $20 once a year for as long as you participate.

The American West gets quite hot in the summer and air conditioners are almost universal. Ergo, power demand peaks during July and August, the hottest months of the year. Rocky Mountain Power could build more electrical generation capacity into their system to meet that peak demand, but instead they encourage a kind of conservation using cause-related marketing.

This isn’t energy conservation cause marketing in the sense that people are being incentivized to use less power, per se. Instead, customers are being induced to allow Rocky Mountain Power to temper demand so that the company avoids or at least forestalls the time when it has to build more power plants.

In the States, building a power plant these days… even in sparsely-settled areas… is a crapshoot; it takes a long time to secure the permits and it’s expensive, never mind the environmental costs. In effect, Rocky Mountain Power is sharing with its customers some of the cost-savings it enjoys by not building more power plants.

Rocky Mountain Power could have chosen almost any cause for this campaign but choosing schools helps ensure wide participation; everybody is near a school. The mailing included a list of all Utah schools, so the campaign is almost idiot-proof.

The donation amounts are clear and the materials are quite good. The addition of the color photo of the girl in the classroom is a nice touch. The website is helpful and the name, “Cool Keeper,” suggests the American idiom ‘keep your cool,’ which means to ‘remain calm.’

No wonder Milton Friedman said, “Cool Keeper’s use of incentives is proof that cause-related marketing can work in many settings.”

OK, I made up that quote, too.

Comments

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…