Skip to main content

Yes, Virginia, there is Christmas Cause Marketing (and there should be more)

Dear Editor

I am more than 8 years old. Some of my peers say that there is no Christmas cause marketing. Papa says, “if you see in the cause marketing blog, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there Christmas cause marketing?

Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are almost right. There’s not much Christmas cause marketing going on in the States. Charities large and small have carved out the
Halloween season (October). St Jude has branded Thanksgiving (which falls on the
fourth Thursday in November in the United States). You’ll see cause marketing
promotions on virtually every American holiday: St. Patrick’s Day, Valentines
Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.

But Christmas? Not so much.

This despite the fact that many charities do their best fundraising in the Christmas season. Annual giving is very big at Christmas time for many charities. And corporate earnings rise and fall depending on how well they do at Christmas. And yet, there’s precious little cause marketing and certainly not many ‘big’ campaigns.

That is, until now.

Macy’s and the Make-A-Wish Foundation have launched a campaign at Christmastime called Macy’s Believe. I was about to write that it’s a Christmas campaign, but strictly speaking it’s not. It’s a Santa Claus campaign. The thinking among marketers is that modern American society is at present too pluralistic to use
the ‘C’ word in broad-reaching marketing campaigns. This because for last 25 years or so Christmas celebrations in the United States have been an unsteady balance between the secular and religious.

To sidestep the Christian denotations of Christmas, Macy’s and Make-A-Wish instead revivify a hoary old story from 111 years ago involving 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, who wrote a letter questioning the veracity of Santa Claus to the editor of The New York Daily Sun, Francis B. Church.

Here’s how Macy’s Believe works: When you bring a stamped letter addressed to Santa Claus to a Macy’s store, they will donate $1 per letter to the Make-A-Wish Foundation up to a total of $1 million. Macy’s will also deliver the letters to the post office.

The website is nicely put together, if a little thin. There’s the Virginia O’Hanlon story, something about Make-A-Wish, the make yourself into Santa exercise that you see above, and a commercial featuring Macy’s ‘stars’ Jessica Simpson, Carlos Santana, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart and others.

I wish there was more about the connection between Make-A-Wish and Macy’s. Where’s the stories about Macy’s stores and employees that played some role in granting a wish to kids? Sans that Macy’s Believe is missing some heart.

I like the social media capabilities built into the “Be Clause,” activity. And I was delighted at how well designed the user interface was.

All that said, there’s still room for more and other Christmas cause marketing campaigns. Especially since Macy’s and Make-A-Wish aren’t actually attaching their campaign to Christmas.

Want to know how to do that? Take a lesson for St. Jude’s terrific Thanks and Giving campaign.

Do that and Christmas will make glad the heart of cause marketers.


The Editor


lillian said…
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning Nice Comments.

Popular posts from this blog

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Cause-Related Marketing Meets Microfinance and Mix it Up

You’d have had to have been in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the last year or so to have missed the run up of microfinance. Between 2004 and 2006 more than $4 billion of capital flowed into microfinance institutions. All told experts say the total loan microfinance loan portfolio may be as much as $12.5 billion. And of course the father of microfinance, Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Microfinance is now so respectable, so effective, (so profitable!) that it’s already enjoying its first global backlash.

Actually that first sentence is hyperbole. Because even in Ulaanbaatar… far from almost anywhere on the vast, frigid steppes of Mongolia… microfinance is thriving such that the earliest recipients of micro loans there are now complaining about taxes and government bureaucracy! And May 29-31, 2008 the Conference of Microfinance Institutions will convene in Ulaanbaatar, the eleventh such annual conference.
Now Advanta, a credit card issuer to small…

Cause Marketing Beer with BOGO, Brew One Give One

On Monday’s post I touched on the topic of telling people what your cause marketing campaign accomplished when completed. I’ve recommended this approach to clients as a way to keep open the lines of communication with customers and clients and to get extra value from the campaign.

In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

But what if that really cuts across the grain in your organization? What if it’s just not in your corporate DNA to do anything but to frontload your cause marketing activation? Well, then, add the report back to the activation of your next cause marketing effort.

New Belgium Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colorado, said to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States, did just that with this ad in Sunset magazine. I found this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

New Belgium donates $1 for every barrel it brews and sells. It’s a BOGO cause marketing effort, Buy One Give One. …