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Cause-Related Marketing for the Beautiful People

H.L. Mencken, the legendary cynic, wrote, “nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Recently James Surowiecki, in his book “The Wisdom of Crowds” says that’s probably false of Americans (or any group in the aggregate).

However, notwithstanding that, I do believe there’s a corollary that holds up very well: “you’ll make a mint catering to people who feel like outsiders.” Witness the success of the Harry Potter books and movies, for instance.

And so it’s with mixed feelings that I review this campaign from the website, part fashion magazine and part catalog, supports Fashion Targets Breast Cancer (FTBC), a fundraising campaign of the Council of Fashion Designers of America Foundation.

There are also FTBC organizations in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Greece, Japan, Canada, and Portugal orgainized under different auspices. Since 1994, FTBC has raised more than $40 for breast cancer charities in 13 countries, the ad informs us.

The FTBC fundraising approach is that they invite a prominent designer to design some kind of clothing using the FTBC logo and then sell it at tony prices. The polo shirts at left are designed by Ralph Lauren and retail at the website for $75.

Now, I have nothing against willowy supermodels in bikinis and skin-tight shirts. I like Ralph Lauren. As a cause marketer I admire the price FTBC is asking for the shirts.

But something about this ad and this cause marketing approach makes me feel like an outsider, like an awkward high school boy who can’t get even a nod from the pretty prom queen.

So I ask, where’s the chic products for us fashion outsiders?


Jessica said…
I have been reading a little bit about your blog and appreciate there is a blog like this addressing cause marketing. There was a recent article in Media Post Publications that stated: "77% of shoppers say they would prefer to select a brand that supports a cause, all things being equal."

So how do companies appeal to consumers, clients, whom ever in a genuine and powerful way? A way that pulls them in? For me, the ad is not appealing, like you said, it does not seem like something I would want to be part of. I am 23, I think fashion is fun and at one point I thought about modeling, but that ad does not speak to me. Why?

I think it is somewhat of balancing act.

One of our clients for the company I work for is Operation Kids. Working with non-profits and sponsors, cause-related marketing is often an objective as far as value proposition goes. Topics like this and corporate social responsibility will definitely continue to gain interest and attention.

Keep up the good work!

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