Cause-Related Marketing You Can Drink To

I Detect Hints of Hickory with Subtle Notes of Rosin and Glove Leather

Late in May three star players from the Atlanta Braves baseball team debuted their latest charitable endeavors, table wines from Chile and Spain with the bottles featuring their images and with proceeds from the sales benefiting the charities of their choice.

The players… Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Tom Glavine… unveiled Chipper Chardonnay, McCann Merlot, and (wait for it) Cabernet Glavignon. They sell for around for $14 at retail outlets like Kroger and Wal-Mart and proceeds benefit the Miracle League, the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research and CURE Childhood Cancer respectively.

The Atlanta trio join professional baseball players from the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds and several legends of the game with their own labels. There are two former NFL players...Dan Marino and Bobby Herbert... with labels, and two players from the National Hockey League. Two special labels for red and white wines benefit the AIDS Research Alliance.

The brands are: Edendale Cellars, Longball Cellars, 500 Home Run Club, Hat Trick Cellars, Gridiron Cellars, and Marino Estates.

The approach is the brainstorm of Event Wines of Winchendon, Mass., which “donates 100% of the celebrity’s proceeds to their chosen charity. The celebrity does not make one penny.”

That’s some tricky language which I take to mean that the celebrity gets a piece of the sale as a kind of personal licensing arrangement, which he agrees to donate in full to his charity of choice. Borrowing on the athlete’s notoriety, Event Wines thereby gets their product into sales channels they probably couldn’t normally be able to penetrate. It’s a kind of end run around normal distribution channels.

The athlete gets some money for his case and another chance to promote his status locally as a good citizen, this time in the wine aisle at the grocery store. And depending on how the deal is structured, it’s potentially tax deductible for the celebrity. And these days, a celebrity without a charity affiliation is either unsociable, unstable, or has an incompetent agent.

A related company will put your personalized label on bottles of a sparkling wine, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and merlot for your wedding, corporate event or charitable endeavor.

It’s a clever campaign that would be a whole lot better if there was some transparency about the donation amount.

I genuinely admire the creativity of the campaign. And someone at Event Wines is a terrific salesperson. Because to make this happen, agents had to be sold, along with players, and retail outlets. And if anyone could do this campaign, someone already would have.

(Tip of the hat to Kate, a member of the Cause-Related Marketing Googlegroup, for sharing this).

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