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Vendor Programs and Cause-Related Marketing

It’s no secret that cause-related marketing is typically aimed at consumers. But that doesn’t mean that the sales relationship from manufacturer to consumer is direct. The Internet notwithstanding, most manufacturers require sales channel partners. Sometimes more than one.

For instance, the delivery of the O-Cedar mop you bought at your neighborhood grocery store was probably enabled not directly by Fredenberg Household Products (which owns O-Cedar), but by a third-party manufacture’s rep, who made sure the product was on the shelf and well displayed and that the annual spring cleaning special pricing is properly executed.

Moreover, in the last 15 years ago in the United States the balance of power shifted from the manufacturers to the retailers. Retailers realized that the 15 feet on shelf space they might give a product… in store that can only carry so many SKUs… is foot-for-foot the most valuable real estate in America. Hence the rise of slotting fees and the like.

So if you’re a manufacturer and one of your principal retailers comes to you and says they’d like your support in a cause-related marketing campaign they probably have you over a barrel. You could say no, of course. But let’s be honest, the only dickering that goes on is over the amount of vigorish the manfacturer will pay.

To be fair there are retailers which have internal policies that preclude them from fundraising from their vendors. I know for a fact that Albertsons had a policy against approaching vendors for donations, although the grocery giant had also made exceptions.

A vendor program is what’s at work with this pink packaging from Sargento Foods, the $500 million Wisconsin cheese maker. Over the signature of Lou Gentine, the company’s CEO, a letter on the back of the packaging says that, “This year in America, over 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. So, in partnership with the Kroger Co. family of stores, Sargento and other brands are making a donation to breast cancer awareness to fight this terrible disease.”

Those ain’t exactly the words of a company that’s in the ‘fight’ against breast cancer heart and soul.

What did Sargento get out of their donation and specialty pink packaging? Maybe they got favorable space allocations in Kroger stores, or an appearance in the weekly Kroger flyer. Non-refrigerated items might get a special end-cap. It wouldn’t surprise me if golf foursomes were somehow involved, too.

So you can understand why Sargento isn’t exactly forthcoming about the donation amount, who the money is going to, or exactly how the donated money will aid the fight against breast cancer.


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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
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Cause Marketing Beer with BOGO, Brew One Give One

On Monday’s post I touched on the topic of telling people what your cause marketing campaign accomplished when completed. I’ve recommended this approach to clients as a way to keep open the lines of communication with customers and clients and to get extra value from the campaign.

In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

But what if that really cuts across the grain in your organization? What if it’s just not in your corporate DNA to do anything but to frontload your cause marketing activation? Well, then, add the report back to the activation of your next cause marketing effort.

New Belgium Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colorado, said to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States, did just that with this ad in Sunset magazine. I found this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

New Belgium donates $1 for every barrel it brews and sells. It’s a BOGO cause marketing effort, Buy One Give One. …