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Showing posts from August, 2007

Fearless Predictions on the Future of Cause-Related Marketing

I have a spotty record predicting the future.

I bought a Zip drive about a week before the first USB drive came out. And then, admiring the portability of said USB drives I bought 2 of them with 56K of memory for about $50 a pop. I have two sets of the 1987 Topps baseball cards (which includes the rookie cards for Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire) still in the original shrink-wrap. They’re worth almost exactly what I paid for them. Or rather less, considering the ravages of inflation.

(I also have a first edition of Hayduke Lives by Edward Abbey that has doubled in value. So, I’m not always dead wrong.)

So imagine my surprise to get a short missive from Bay-area fundraising consultant Gayle Roberts asking me to weigh in on the topic of “Predicting the Future of Fundraising” for the September Giving Carnival.

But like all pundits, I’ve got an opinion no matter my history of accuracy!

That said, to paraphrase Abbey’s ‘warning’ at the front of Hayduke “Anyone who takes these predictions seriously…

Cause-Related Marketing with Customer Receipts

Walgreens and JDRF
Right now at Walgreens…the giant pharmacy and retail store chain with more than 5,800 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico… they’re selling $1 paper icons for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
This is an annual campaign and I bought one to gauge how it’s changed over the years. (Short list… they don’t do the shoe as a die cut anymore; the paper icon is now an 8¾ x 4¼ rectangle. Another interesting change; one side is now in Spanish).

The icon has a bar code and Jacob, the clerk, scanned it and handed me a receipt as we finished the transaction. At the bottom was an 800-number keyed to a customer satisfaction survey. Dial the number, answer some questions and you’re entered into a drawing for $10,000 between now and the end of September 2007.

I don’t know what their response rate is, but the $10,000 amount suggests that it’s pretty low. Taco Bell’s survey gives out $1,000 per week. At a regional seafood restaurant they give me a code that garners a…

Chili’s and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

I was in Chili’s today and I ordered their “Triple-Dipper,” a three appetizer combo. While I waited for the food, I noticed another kind of combo. Chili’s is doing a full-featured cause-related marketing campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

There was a four-sided laminated table tent outlining the campaign on the table. When the waitress brought the drinks she slapped down Chili’s trademark square paper beverage coasters and on them was a call to action for an element of the campaign called ‘Create-A-Pepper,’ a kind of paper icon campaign. The wait staff was all attired in black shirts co-branded with Chili’s and St. Jude.

The Create-A-Pepper paper icon could be found in a stack behind the hostess area. The Peppers are outlines of Chili’s iconic logo meant to be colored. I paid $1 for mine, but they would have taken $5, $10, or more. The crayons, too, were co-branded with the ‘Create-A-Pepper’ and St. Jude’s logos.

There’s also creatapepper.com, a microsite, but again with…

Open Source Cause-Related Marketing

Excuse me while I coin a phrase; “open source cause-related marketing.”

In effect General Mills has turned its Box Tops for Education campaign into an open source cause marketing campaign. I realized this as I walked into Sam’s Club the other day and was handed the handbill above. On the front it details a small promotion for earning bonus Box Tops.

On the backside it lists 33 items available in Sam’s Club that participate in Boxtops for Education. But here’s the kicker, they’re not all General Mills products. As I noted in my April 3, 2007 posting, General Mills opened up Box Tops to other non-competing brands in 2006.

What wasn’t apparent to me then was the degree to which General Mills has pulled its own branding from the Box Tops campaign. Notice that General Mills name and logo are conspicuously absent from the Box Tops logo. If you go to the Box Tops for Education website you’ll find General Mills in the fact sheet. But otherwise its presence is largely confined to a small copyrigh…

Punk Cause Marketing

How do you make it in the music business?
Use to be you were an ‘overnight success’ discovered in the clubs by an A&R guy from the record company after living in your van for 12 years. The record companies would promote you and if you sold millions, you got rich and died drunk in a tragic airplane accident.
In the last few years, you could try out for American Idol (or its many extensions worldwide) and be humiliated by Simon Cowell on national TV.
Now, you can open a Myspace page for free. Shoot your own bare bones music video for maybe $10 and post it on YouTube for free. And if it’s authentic and unique and it somehow speaks to an audience, you get millions of downloads and appear on national TV!
That’s what happened to Tay Zonday, erstwhile PhD student and Internet impresario, who’s hit it big with ‘Chocolate Rain.’ Zonday… a stage name for Adam Bahner… looks like Urkel and sounds like Barry White. And the lyrics make just enough sense that they pass for profundity. The video qu…

Apple Vacations and Susan G. Komen

Bring on Cause-Related Marketing 2.0

Like a kiwi fruit, the Internet looks different from the outside than what it tastes like. It’s easy to look at the Internet and see a computer-driven media. But for marketers it tastes like direct mail, newspapers, radio, and TV.

Like never before cause marketers are utilizing the Internet to drive their campaigns. Illustrated above is an example from Apple Vacations benefiting Susan G. Komen which came to me in an email.

Here’s the offer, Apple Vacations, which bills itself as “America’s Vacation Company,” will donate $50 to Susan G. Komen every time someone books a qualifying “travel pink, travel Oahu” vacation to Hawaii through October 15.

When I look at this email I see something that's just about half-baked.
It starts with the inelegant pink lei in the shape of breast cancer’s iconic pink ribbon. The pink and blue graphic is kinda blah. The headline is barely serviceable. There’s no logo from Komen, suggesting that Apple Vacations is not an of…

The Power of a Single Picture in Cause-Related Marketing

Best Buy and Fisher House

Early in my career a grizzled old veteran of marketing and communications for nonprofits said in a meeting “it’s all about the T-shirts.”

He meant that when it came to marketing and communications campaigns the biggest battles were often over the smallest things, like the T-shirt. Because when it comes to marketing and communications even if few people know the marcom concepts of ‘return of customer investment’ or, ‘share of requirement’ everybody from the CEO to the janitor understands T-shirts.

I’m now a grizzled old veteran and I beg to differ. Everybody seems to want input on T-shirts, that’s true enough. But it’s not all about the T-shirt.

No, in cause-related marketing campaigns one of the details you should obsess over is the picture… or pictures… that illustrates the cause.

Among other talents, these days an effective cause marketer better be a very good photo editor.

The classic example is Special Olympics. As soon as you see the kids racing in a pool, get…

Exclusivity and Cause-Related Marketing

On the Horns of a Dilemma

The August issue of Costco’s member magazine, “The Costco Connection,” features a short story about the retailer’s longstanding commitment to children’s hospitals, with a special emphasis on Seattle Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Since 1989, the article points out, Costco has raised more than $30 million for Seattle Children’s and an unstated amount for 24 other children’s hospitals in North America.

Now for the rest of the story.

Seattle Children’s Hospital is part of Children’s Miracle Network (CMN), which raises more than $225 million a year on behalf of its 170 affiliated hospitals in the United States and Canada. As CMN proudly points out, most of the best children’s hospitals in North America’s are affiliated with CMN.

One of the things CMN asks of its participating hospitals is that when they land a sponsor which could become a regional or national sponsor that they share. A goodly number of CMN’s largest national sponsors were brought on in exact…

Just What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Exercising Self-Interest

It’s gotten mighty hard to nail down just exactly what people mean these days when they speak of corporate social responsibility.

Does it mean extracting sea turtles out of fishing nets or not eating monoculture salmon? Does it mean not out-sourcing jobs to cheaper foreign lands even if it raises the standard of living in those places? What if the outsourced jobs go to foreign union members? Is it better to build a new LEED certified building or to make due with the old building that’s sturdy if not entirely energy efficient? Is it more socially responsible for a company to donate to an AIDS orphan cause in Africa than to a ballet company in Africa? What if the ballet company employs AIDS victims?

I’m not an ethicist and some of these questions are ethical questions. But for the rest of us how are we supposed to navigate the thicket of sometimes competing and oftentimes perplexing conundrums framed as issues of corporate social responsibility?

This was all so much…