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Showing posts from September, 2008

RIP Paul Newman, the Preeminent Face of Cause-Related Marketing

After a private battle, Paul Newman passed away from lung cancer on Friday, September 26, 2008 surrounded by family and friends.

He will be remembered as a splendid actor, a competitive professional race car driver, a political activist, philanthropist and accidental leader. But I’ll remember him as the preeminent face of cause-related marketing in our day. (And certainly as the star of my favorite Western, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. See left with Katharine Ross).

On a lark in 1982 along with his neighbor and friend writer A.E. Hotchner, Newman started selling salad dressing that they called Newman’s Own. Later they added pasta sauce, popcorn, salsa, wine, cookies, among many other items, to the line.

The labels featured jokey caricatures of Newman and the pledge that 100 percent of the proceeds from the venture, after taxes, would be donated to charity. From its founding through 2007, Newman’s Own had donated more than $220 million to charity. Last year’s charitable donation wa…

Buy Any Alden Keene Merchandise and $1.50 Goes to the Children's Organ Transplant Association

About five years ago I was tasked with finding a national children’s charity that was well-managed, well-regarded, and necessary. It had to meet a number of stringent standards of effectiveness in achieving its mission and demonstrate efficient stewardship of its resources. It also had to have a good name and ‘heart.’ That is, even given all those data-driven measures, it also had to be a charity with genuine emotional appeal.

I found all that and more in the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) in Bloomington, Indiana. I flew to Indiana for a meeting and to my delight discovered an organization led and staffed by pleasant, honorable people. It was a little like going to the Grand Canyon for the splendid views and finding a Michelin 3-star restaurant there.

As a consultant I’ve never done work for COTA. But when anyone asks me to recommend a top-notch children’s charity, I tell them about COTA with the fervor of an evangelist. It really is a terrific charity.

Now I’m pleased to…

My Quarterly Disquisition on Transparency in Cause-Related Marketing

I saw the Anne Klein ad to the left in the October 2008 Elle magazine and intended to question the unnecessarily abstruse language at the bottom that refers to “translational research,” whatever that means.

And then I came across this remarkable document on The Breast Cancer Research Foundation website. Remarkable because there in one PDF is all you need to know about the various jewelry items being sold this breast cancer season benefiting the BCRF.

It includes the jewelry price, where it’s being sold, how much of a donation is generated, press contacts, product descriptions, etc.

[The design of the document is rather blasé and the PDF itself could be more crisp. But I’m picking nits here.]

I've often written in this space about the necessity of transparency in cause-related marketing. (Click here for more.) Transparency is vital in cause-related marketing and far too rare. Vital because more than almost anything else you can name, cause-related marketing trades on trust.

BTW, accordi…

Celebrities, Evolutionary Fitness and Cause-Related Marketing

Cone Inc.’s blog 'Do You Stand for Something?' recently posted on the topic of cause marketing with celebrities. They cited two surveys… one of marketers and the other of consumers… to suggest that cause-related marketing with celebrities is a less than effective tactic.

Yet still we see celebrities and causes tying the knot faster than Britney Spears on a weekend bender in Las Vegas.

What's up with that?

Certainly you have to parse out the surveys a little. Here’s what they wrote on the Cone blog:

“New Research out this week surveyed marketers to explore the roles of celebrities in cause-marketing efforts, and the findings indicate that while these spokespeople often help raise awareness of a cause, they are not particularly effective in inspiring people to act. According to (the) survey, the majority of respondents (about 58%) indicate a celeb’s tie to a cause may motivate them to look into the cause, but not necessarily become involved. Cone’s own consumer research found th…

Cause-Related Marketing With an Edge

Does it feel like cause-related marketing is too sincere, too earnest, too sober? Too many soft piano chords and not enough wailing guitar licks?

In the last couple of weeks I’ve come across two cause-related marketing efforts… largely targeted to women… with a decidedly mischievous approach.

The first is from an outfit called ta-tas Brand Clothing, which produces T-shirts, other wearables, bumper stickers, and special soap meant to enable early breast cancer detection called ‘boob lube.’

Their signature T-shirt reads: “save the ta-tas,” but they offer a number of other cheeky variations like “caught you looking at my ta-tas.” “A portion of every sale is given to breast cancer research,” through the company’s foundation, The Save the ta-tas Foundation. To date, the website reports, sales of ta-tas merchandise has generated more than $185,000 in donations.

The second is more shocking still.

The ‘Eff’ Cancer Cross stitch Kit from Subversive Cross Stitch, generates a donation to Susan G. Kome…

Looking for Arts Organizations Which Have Successfully Used Cause-Related Marketing

Hey Gang:

I'm looking for arts organizations which have successfully employed cause-related marketing.
If your arts organization has done so, or you know of one that has, please contact me.

Paul Jones, President Alden Keene and Associates

Social Entrepreneurship and Cause-Related Marketing...

...An Interview with Social Entrepreneur Michael Arkes, Part II

In this second half of my interview with social entrepreneur Michael Arkes, the founder of Helping Hands Rewards…a Chicago organization that helps social enterprises sell better… we peel back the layers a little to reveal what motivated Arkes jump into social enterprise and how he manages his for-profit company and a social enterprise at the same time.

Read part I here.

What are your financial results?
“We expect to lose money through 2009 but plan to approach breakeven in 2010.”

I assume that you committed a fair amount of time during the startup of Helping Hands (I've been involved charity startups myself). How do you justify that attention that could have been paying to Hinda?
“I grew up in a home that participated in social activism and then went to college in the late 1960’s as our country was trying to deal with our involvement in Viet Nam. I was shaped by these early experiences and throughout my adult life have se…

The Brazen Mercantilist Division of the Cause-Related Marketing blog

In the last few months I’ve added brazen mercantilism to the cause-related marketing blog; Google Ads, Amazon, and now a “Lemonade Stand” with products for informal learners, which I write about on my other blog at The Learner's Guild.

None of these blatantly commercial efforts, however, really lend themselves to cause-related marketing.

So in the next few weeks the blog will also feature aprons, cutting boards, mousepads, sweatshirts, and… as required by law in more than 87 countries…T-shirts. All showcasing several cheeky versions of the Alden Keene & Associates logo above.

On the occasion of my 250th post I’m pleased to announce that when you buy any merchandise item with the Alden Keene logo, Alden Keene will donate $1.50 to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA). There is no upper limit on the donation and the campaign will continue until Sept 2009. COTA is an effective, honorable, and well-run charity that helps kids get life-saving organ transplants.

We all know…

Social Entrepreneurship And Cause-Related Marketing...

...An Interview with Social Entrepreneur Michael Arkes, Part I

In the last 10 years there’s been an explosion of ‘social entrepreneurship.’ There’s probably a better definition somewhere but I think of social enterprises as entities that sell goods or services to further their own mission.

In the United States social enterprises can be organized as for-profits. After all there’s no law here that says a company can’t have a ‘mission’ beyond generating profits. There are certain advantages to organizing as a for-profit, including: fewer regulatory hurdles, faster decision cycles, and better access to capital markets.

I don’t have official numbers in front of me but I think it’s safe to say that most social enterprises are organized as nonprofits, chiefly because in the States a nonprofit with a mission generally has more moral authority than a for-profit with a mission.

Let me hasten to add that social enterprises are not a recent innovation. Many people know about Greyston Bakery in Yonker…

Cause-Related Marketing, Now in Italian

My new friend Francesco Santini is translating a select number of my posts into Italian for his blog.

If your Italian's better than mine, you could read my post and all of Francesco's at

And to any of my Italian readers I'll repeat what I said to Francesco: "If you ever need a token American to speak at or attend a nonprofit or marketing conference in Italy, I'm your man."

My price?

Heck, I'd do it for airfare and a twice-daily gelato.

Matchmaking and Cause-Related Marketing

For at least five years now I’ve been looking for a means whereby Alden Keene could predict the potential fit between a cause and a sponsor in cause-related marketing campaign. A matchmaking tool, if you will.

I approached at least a half dozen professors and researchers and the answer was always some variation on a theme of “yes we can survey people, but what we really need is a theoretical underpinning.”

Can you recommend a theoretical footing, I would ask?

“No. But we can conduct a survey for you once you find it,” would come the response.

Well, I can survey people. That’s no challenge. My company, Alden Keene, conducts surveys and focus groups all the time.

But until now I never found the theoretical foundation for such a predictive tool. And, I’m especially pleased to report it comes from a familiar source.

An old friend from my Children’s Miracle Network days runs a firm called Venture Dynamics, LLC that draws on research from stakeholder theory to produce predictive instruments for v…

Student Needs Help With Research on Cause-Related Marketing Ads

Hey Gang:

I got the following email from a student at Stetson University who’s looking for some help on some research she’s conducting on cause-related marketing ads.

Here’s the contact information if you can help:

Warm regards,

Paul Jones, President
Alden Keene & Associates

I’m looking for print ads (appearing in magazines and newspapers preferably) with human subjects which are part of a breast cancer cause related marketing campaign (with a preference for Komen Foundation endorsed ads). I need a sufficient number to conduct a content analysis. Unfortunately, a select few from a single campaign wouldn’t do, since my advisers want me to locate either all of a single campaign, or a large quantity from which I can draw a random sample.

My analysis will be from a sociological perspective, analyzing the race, age, gender, and class of those appearing in the ads. Once I’ve quantified the elements of gender, race, and age, I intend to compare the population in the ads to …

Pampers Buy One Give One Cause-Related Marketing

Dear Pampers:

Just a quick note of thanks for your 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign benefiting UNICEF.

You may know that I love these ‘buy one, give one’ campaigns. They’re the best thing to come along in cause-related marketing in a long time. Consumers respond to them. They understand them. They feel good about participating in them. And they can generate crazy word-of-mouth.

Your execution has been dynamite, including the follow-up FSI page in the August 31 Proctor & Gamble brandSAVER. Consumers want to know what happens after all the talk and promotion. I appreciate the transparency on your website as well that describes the exact donations made. Smart!

I have to say something about the TV ad, too. It gives me a visceral reaction every time I see it. The moment when the Asian toddler waddles over for a hug and kiss is pure magic. Normally that would be a cheap visual cliché, but by gad it nearly reduces me to tears every time. And I’m not exactly your target market.

The track… ‘Dream’ f…