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Message-Driven Cause-Related Marketing


Hamburger Helper and Pink for the Cure


Not all cause-related marketing is about raising money, per se. Sometimes it’s about the charity's messaging.

Pictured are images from a box of Hamburger Helper, purchased within the last six months. Prominently featured on the front and back of the box is Susan G. Komen’s ‘Pink for the Cure’ campaign.
And while the front makes it clear that General Mills is donating $2 million to Susan G. Komen, there’s no mention that this package of Hamburger Helper has any role in that donation.

It’s on the back of the box that it becomes clear that this is about raising awareness more than raising money.

At the bottom Komen lists “3 ways to help protect yourself.”
  1. Get a mammogram.

  2. Get a clinical breast exam.

  3. Learn how to do a self-examination.
Nothing earth-shattering there, but like the saying goes, sometimes it’s better to be reminded of something we already know than to learn something new.

For that matter, while these recommendations may be old hat for 50-year-old women, every year there’s a new crop of 20-year-olds who may not have heard the message yet.

General Mills now makes Hamburger Helper in single-serving portions meant for lunch or dinner for one. (Many’s the time when I’ve sat down to eat a Hamburger Helper Microwave Single with a nice bottle of red wine!) But the messaging is better suited for a box of Hamburger Helper, since mom is still the person most likely to prepare the meal.

How many people saw this box?

I couldn’t find out what kind of unit volume Hamburger Helper does, but General Mills’ meals division, which is dominated by Hamburger Helper, does about $1.8 billion a year in sales.

For the sake of argument let’s say that half of that amount or $900 million comes from Hamburger Helper sales. Let’s also assume that General Mills makes the same amount of Hamburger Helper every week. At a retail price of $2.69 per box they would make 334 million packages of Hamburger Helper a year, or 6.4 million units a week.

If they put the S.G. Komen messaging on just one week’s worth of Hamburger Helper boxes, that’s pretty good exposure.

This campaign is head and shoulders better than just the charity’s logo on package. Could they have done more? Probably not on the box itself. Komen got some valuable real estate here.

But they could have done more on the back end.

Instead of listing Komen’s regular website and toll-free phone number, the campaign could have built microsite. There users could find valuable coupons, more breast cancer tips and maybe some kind of sweepstakes. If the sweepstakes was sponsored by Komen rather than General Mills, than the charity could capture contact information.

And the very sophisticated Komen operation knows what to do with contact information.

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