Skip to main content

Give to the Salvation Army

In a sales circular that landed in my mailbox on Monday, Dec. 8, Wal-Mart gave three-quarters of a page to the venerable Salvation Army. Too bad it couldn’t have been much less useful.

In 45 swift words the page mentions that need will be great this year, that the Salvation Army will again provide a backstop for the nation’s neediest and that Wal-Mart encourages support of this worthy cause this season, all in a much too-short, unhelpful ad.

MIA is any call to action, like ‘support the bell-ringers with your donations.’ Or, go online to make a donation to the Sally Ann’s virtual red kettle. In this ad, the Salvation Army comes off like a Christmastime charity, as though it was just Toys for Tots for adults or families. Where’s mention of the Salvation Army’s 100-year history (in the States) of extraordinary work on behalf of the poor, the destitute, and the dispossessed?

Wal-Mart and the Salvation Army have been together for more than two decades, where’s a real sense of partnership in this ad?

Whether or not you follow the Salvation Army’s brand of Christianity, I can’t think of any charity that is more worthy of your respect. In the United States, the Salvation Army is pound for pound the most effective and efficient national charity with the homeless and the poor that I know of. The Salvation Army is staid and earnest and committed to the core. And they get my donations every year.

In 2007 some $32 million was collected in Wal-Mart doorways, about 15 percent of the total donated through all the Salvation Army kettles. In the Wal-Mart giving universe that puts the Salvation Army right about the same place as Children’s Miracle Network and several million dollars higher than their contributions to The United Way.

Now, to make that comparison fair, Wal-Mart doesn’t do much for the Sally Ann except provide space for the bell ringers. In 2008 they also seeded the kettle campaign with $1.25 million.

The money raised for Children’s Miracle Network is overwhelmingly raised in-store through their paper icon campaign called Miracle Balloons, which takes place each spring. The United Way comes year-round through employee payroll deduction.

To me this ad has the appearance of something that got fobbed off on a junior designer and approved by someone not much higher. To me it suggests that while Wal-Mart talks a good game about partnering with the Salvation Army, not many in food chain there actually believe it.

Comments

edenni1 said…
There has been a lot of research that suggests that people do not respond to ads that focus on the need which can be depressing and a "downer" - so it's all too easy to skip over the content itself and make a visually and tonally pleasing, if empty, advert about what's happening in the store. You would do better, in my opinion, though, to focus on suggestions to improve or examples of how it could work than to always poke at the people who try to do something.
Hi edenni1:

I agree with you in large measure.

There's little value in spelling out the Salvation Army's mission and programs, which are frankly too complicated to easily describe.

But people don't need to know all the ins and outs of the Sally Ann to support it. I think on the U.S. side of the pond, the average American trusts the Salvation Army, even if they don't understand it.

Put another way, the Salvation Army doesn't need an image campaign this time a year. Especially a bad one. But ads like this nonetheless do need a call to action.

Just encouraging people to drop some money into the kettle would be imperfect, but enough.

Thanks for your comment.

-Paul-

Popular posts from this blog

Profile of Cause Marketing Veteran Joe Lake

Blogger's Note: What follows is a profile and interview I wrote of Children's Miracle Network co-founder Joe Lake, who was recently installed as the CEO of the Starfish Television Network. This originally appeared in the Salt Lake Enterprise on Monday, May 11.

Lining the walls of the office of Joe Lake, the new CEO of the Starfish Television Network, a 501(c) (3) public charity and television network founded in 2006 and headquartered in Midvale, are pictures of the many celebrities he has worked with.

There are pictures of Joe with Goldie Hawn, Sidney Poitier, Jeff Bridges, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rob Lowe and Walter Cronkite, and affectionately-autographed publicity stills from Bob Hope and Rich Little.

It’s something you’d expect in the office of a Hollywood agent, or at a celebrity hangout in Manhattan, or Chicago or Vegas. But the Starfish Television Network, whose mission is to tell the stories of nation’s nonprofits in a way that educates, entertains and inspires its audi…

Unconventional Metrics of Cause Marketing Power

The printed edition of Fortune Magazine runs a regular feature called ‘My Metric’ wherein business leaders identify informal but telling measures of current economic activity.

In the January 17, 2011 Michael Glimcher, CEO of Glimcher Realty Trust cited as his metric an increased number of black cars on the streets of New York City as a sign of the U.S. economy’s (still pending?) resurgence.

That got me thinking, what unconventional metrics evidence the power of certain cause marketing efforts?

One immediately leapt to mind, although only General Mills, which makes Yoplait yogurt in the U.S., can measure it.

The Yoplait lid at left... which I purchased in December 2010... can NOT be redeemed for a $0.10 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Instead it promotes Yoplait’s sponsorship of Komen’s Race for the Cure events, which are numerous.

But I’d bet you a six-pack of Yoplait Greek Honey Vanilla that people nonetheless still send in some number of the lids above in an attempt to redeem th…

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…