Skip to main content

An Interview with a Student Journalist II

This is the second half of an interview with University of Georgia Journalism Student Cathryn McIntosh on the subject of cause-related marketing. Read the first half here.

As before, I've edited this a little bit; this time because of some typos and to clarify some answers. Yikes! Needless to say as a former journalism student myself, I haven't been a good mentor when it comes to providing clean copy. So do what I say Cathryn, not what I do.

Ms. McIntosh's questions are in italics and my answers follow.

Do you think people take time to investigate the causes tied to the items they purchase? (i.e. A leopard printed bracelet “to save the leopards in Timbuktu?”)

That depends. By now I think we all know what the American Cancer Society is about or the Heart Association. Those causes either move you or they don’t. Newer entities like Susan G. Komen and Make-A-Wish probably have pretty good top of mind awareness, too. For the majority of us, those charities don’t require a lot of due diligence.
Likewise, if the price of the item in question is small, it’s not terribly rational to conduct lengthy research on whether or not the cause meets your definition of being truly worthy. If the waiter says, “When you buy our creme brulee, $0.50 goes to famine relief,” you don’t really need to first look at the charity’s 990 (tax return).
Oreck made a larger donation to hurricane relief when you bought one of their vacuums. I might look into an organization’s background if the donation were north of $25.

But maybe your question is, ‘can a cause marketing campaign help me to look at organization I’m unfamiliar with even though the donation in question is small?’ In that case, the answer is yes, if the campaign is designed with that intent and well-executed it can do just that.

What do you think is the most successful campaign right now? Why?

Before the news broke about RED I would have pointed the finger at them. There’s really two kinds of campaigns that I have a lot of praise for. First of all, the long-standing single-element campaigns: General Mills runs a good one for schools. Yoplait’s campaign for Susan G. Komen is pretty good, too. Then there’s the big omnibus campaigns with lots of moving parts. The Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign is admirable. Likewise Susan G. Komen’s efforts during breast cancer month (October) are admirable. There’s a lot to like about St. Jude’s Thanks & Giving effort, too. I live in Salt Lake City and I’ve always thought highly of the Utah Food Bank’s cause marketing campaign in advance of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
How do businesses decide which causes to support?
There’s a couple of approaches, at least.
  1. One is to take a strategic approach. Say you’re a food manufacturer, then a strong strategic approach is to support a hunger cause. For instance, Campbells does its Stamp Out Hunger campaign with the US Postal Service that benefits food banks nationwide.
  2. Another approach is to support the cause that generates the most passion among your ownership or employees. Munchkin Inc., which makes handy stuff for kids and parents, supports Susan G. Komen because the young wife of the VP of marketing contracted breast cancer.
  3. You could just be true to your brand. Ben & Jerry’s darn near has to support causes like the Waterwheel Foundation to be true to itself and to meet the expectations of its customers.
  4. They’re not as common, but there are instances of what I call ‘Business to Business Cause-Related Marketing.’ McLane, a distributor to the convenience store industry, supports CMN and has brought along a large handful of C-store chains to CMN. While I know for a fact that the people at McLane really have their hearts in this effort, they started doing B2B cause marketing because their customers... the c-stores... benefit from it.
  5. Find out what your audience is interested in or what issues they respond to and then find a corresponding charity.

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…