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Cause Marketing Outside Its Credo?

Earlier this year Outside Magazine offered a challenging cause marketing promotion that I only just came across. For the April ‘Green Issue,’ when you bought the magazine at newsstands, Outside made a $1 donation to the Conservation Alliance up to $50,000.

According to a press release issued in January, the issue would:

“… explore and deliver the concept of ‘green’ in a proactive, relevant, bold and humorous package. The unparalleled edit lineup in this philanthropic issue… focuses on solutions rather than documenting the world’s environmental ills. Outside… introduces readers to new, sustainable products and technology including wave powered electricity, a zero emission SUV, sustainable clothing and green gear, the future of solar power, and how to navigate the emerging carbon market.”

Outside… now in its thirtieth year… has won more than its fair share of peer awards. At its best the writing fairly throws off sparks from its pages and the editing is consistently keen; as good and usually better than any other consumer magazine in the United States. I’ve read it for years. I still keep in my files a wry, sexy essay written 15 years ago that (I hope) inspires my own writing.

Long before the ‘Green Issue,’ Outside carved out its own place in the green ethos. For me its very name evokes images of those photos taken from space of our sparkling blue planet.

Cause-related marketing is typically a promotion. And like any promotion it’s meant to give your customer base incentive to do something you want it to do. Given Outside’s green branding it seems odd to me that they want to incentivize people to buy more issues on the newsstands. Think of the paper, the trucks that deliver issues, the issues that don’t sell and are shipped back or just trashed.

In fairness it may be that Outside doesn’t have the same emerald view of itself that I have of it. Outside’s online media kit says that its readership is:
  • 67 percent male
  • Average age 40
  • 65 percent managerial/professional
  • Has a household income of $135,841(!)
The kit makes no mention of their reader’s outlook on the earth. Outside online says it’s “dedicated to covering the people, activities, gear, art, and politics of the world outside.” Hardly a green manifesto.

Still for me this promotion cuts against Outside’s branding as I perceive it.

What do you think? Have I got Outside’s green credo wrong? Should they be cause marketing around sales of newsstand issues? Feel free to comment.


Kim Carpenter Drake said…
I agree that they are contradicting themselves with this CRM campaign. Unfortunately, I see that more and more businesses are looking for short cuts to jump on the bandwagon without really thinking about either their brand or their mission. Perhaps this is why we are seeing more cynicism among consumers?

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