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Why Even Absurd Cause-Related Marketing Has its Place

Buy a Bikini, Help Cure Cancer

New York City (small-d) fashion designer Shoshonna Lonstein Gruss may have one of the more absurd cause-related marketing campaigns I’ve come across lately. When you buy the bikini or girls one-piece swimsuit at Bergdorf-Goodman in New York shown at the left all sales “proceeds” benefit Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Look past the weak ‘proceeds’ language, which I always decry, and think for a moment about the incongruities of the sales of swimsuits benefiting the legendary Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Cancer has nothing to do swimming or swimsuits or summering in The Hamptons for that matter. And it’s not clear from her website why Shoshanna, the comely lass who once adorned the arm of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, has chosen the esteemed cancer center to bestow her gifts, although a web search shows that she’s supported its events for years.

Lesser critics would say that the ridiculousness of it all is a sign that cause-related marketing is quickly headed for its nadir.

And lesser critics would be wrong.

Cause-related marketing has now penetrated every continent (save Antarctica) and visited every clime.

Cause-related marketing is a big tent and getting bigger. And as the stakes of the tent get pulled further back and the acreage under the fabric gets ever larger, cause-related marketing grows ever more diverse.

And now the cause-related marketing tent is big enough and varied enough that it encompasses the sophisticated and the unpretentious, the artful and the artless, the splendid and the dorky.

So I say “bully to Shoshanna and her odd little cause-related marketing campaign.”


Kate said…
I'm just waiting for an interesection of Cause-marketing and the truly absurd.

Maybe the penguin that lost his feathers and now has a "wet-suit" fashioned by the local aquarium --- when Shosanna or some other designer decides to put their logo on his tiny swimsuit, and donate the proceeds ... then we'll know that Cause-Related Marketing has become not just commonplace, but common.

Like Ringling said, there's a sucker born every minute.

I prefer my Cause-Related Marketing to actually have some relationship between the cause, the company, the product, and the consumer.
Anonymous said…
First, Paul, let me commend you for during these serious times addressing this completely frivilous and inane issue. You are doing cause marketing a great service and, ulitimately, your country. I would tip my hat to you if my bikini was tied.

Second, Kate, you are really limiting the realm of cause marketing if you restricting it to a cause and company and product and consumer. Under your guidelines there would be about three programs out there.

What this all comes down to is that you don't like bikinis and you don't look good in one, Kate. I know, because I don't either. But I still like the promotion.

Kate said…
Inherent in the term "CAUSE-RELATED MARKETING" is the implication that there is some relationship between the cause & the company.

I'm not against bikinis, or even bikinis for a cause. And, at least Shoshanna is doing something, which is admirable.

But think how much more value could have been created for both parties with a clear message to the consumer about how this supported the cause, and why that particular cause was selected.

I love the sublime, the absurd and carnival. They each have their place.

But as a communicator and a public affairs consultant, I draw the line at doing something - just to be doing something - instead of doing something WELL. A clear cause-related campaign that tied the bikini & the organization would have made this compelling.

And what's wrong with that?

PS: I don't wear bikinis because I actually SWIM, as opposed to sit & tan. Bikinis just aren't all that functional.

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