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The Best Cause Marketing of 2008

First off the usual disclaimers. This is by no mean an exhaustive list. I don’t see much cause marketing from outside North America. I read and speak only English; and, well, a smattering of Esperanto ;).

There may well be… and probably is… some brilliant cause marketing coming out of Senegal or Bengal or Finland or Vietnam or Rio de Janeiro that I just don’t know about.

I certainly don’t even see all the cause marketing done in North America. I only post about cause marketing about twice a week. So needless to say, I don’t review all the cause marketing that comes over the transom. There can be no doubt but that I have blind spots.

But I did review a lot of cause marketing in 2008… more than 135 posts… and I saw much more than that.

So with that said, here’s the best 11 cause marketing efforts of 2008 (as far as I know).

  • In January I was besotted by TOMS Shoes ‘buy one, give one’ (BOGO) campaign. Buy a pair of their alpergatas shoes and they give away a pair to a needy child in a developing country. The appeal is easy to understand and TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, and his staff have proven themselves very adept at word of mouth marketing. How savvy is TOMS Shoes BOGO approach? So savvy it’s inspired others on this very list to take the same approach.
  • Rosa Loves is a t-shirt firm that designs limited-edition t-shirts meant to raise money and tell personal stories of dispossessed individuals in North America, Latin America, Africa and Asia. The art on the outside of the shirts illustrate the individual stories. Inside, over the wearer’s heart is a printed summary version of the story. It’s a very interesting fundraising model and eminently imitable if you bear in mind the lessons I underscored. 
  • In February I highlighted the BOGO (buy one, give one) cause marketing approach of real estate developer LJ Urban. When you bought one of their LEED certified homes in Sacramento, California, they promised a home would be built in Burkina Faso. As with TOMS Shoes, from whom LJ Urban borrowed the BOGO strategy, it generated crazy word of mouth.
  • Fellow blogger Joe Waters has called the cause marketing coming out of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital ‘cause marketing porn.’ That’s praise. I think. Praise was all I had for their multifaceted Create-A-Pepper campaign at Chili’s that generated $8.2 million in 2007, a 150 percent increase over the 2006 effort. Traditionally, the casual dining category has been death for cause marketing. But not for St. Jude, which showed us all how to do it exactly right.
  • No cause marketer has beat up Jerry Lewis more than I have. But I was exceedingly impressed with the MDA’s electronic ‘paper icon’ campaign. I didn’t think it was perfect, but as I wrote about another icon campaign, “I’ve seen the future of icon campaigns and MDA is [delivering] it.”
  • I saw the future also in an Internet-only telethon that benefited American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan that aired in June and featured a heavy diet of right-of-center pundits and talking heads. I wrote: “The sound is bad. The video is worse. And it's bogging down my Internet connection. Plus, the giving mechanism (which requires you to go to a different website) is awkward to say the least. But by [gum] I think I’ve just seen the future of telethons!”
  • In the interest of full-disclosure I have always admired big, ambitious, integrated cause marketing campaigns, especially when the sponsor and charity manage to actually pull it off. And with its Love Bracelet luxury jeweler Cartier did exactly that. There were dozens of stars involved in multiple countries, and dozens of corresponding charities, big donations, free music, romantic eye candy short films, and dogs and cats living together! It was ce magnifique!
  • Advanta, the credit card issuer to small businesses Stateside, along with the microfinance charity Kiva put small business, cause marketing and microfinance into a shaker and came up with one of the sexier cause marketing campaigns I saw in 2008. Called KivaB4B, when you make a donation to Kiva using your Advanta credit card, Advanta will match your donation up to $200 a month.
  • The award for the most intriguing non-transactional cause marketing goes to Plus 3 Network. The premise of Plus 3 Networks is that your workouts ought to pay off in something in addition to greater fitness. When you sign up and log your workouts, sponsors at Plus 3 donate a small amount per mile of exercise. If you log the results using certain GPS units the payout is higher than if you self log. I described it as a “cause marketing triple play” that could be adopted by Reading is Fundamental or any of the charities that do ‘tour’ events like the American Diabetes Association or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
  • Also in the category of non-transactional cause marketing was an appealing effort from Cigna, the giant health and life insurance company. When you played an online game and answered correctly a number of questions, Cigna would make a donation to Water for the People to provide clean water for school kids in India. The questions related to health and insurance and the game was engaging enough to play more than once.
  • The third and final admirable BOGO (buy one, give one) campaign in 2008 came from consumer products giant Proctor & Gamble. When you bought a package of Pampers diapers, PG would make a donation of one child’s vaccine to UNICEF. It was transparent, easy to understand, and the fit between the product and the cause was excellent. I was especially fond of Selma Hayek-narrated TV ad for the campaign, which, I wrote: “nearly reduces me to tears every time. And I’m not exactly [the] target market.”


Buy1GIVE1 said…
I just love all the places that people are doing great stuff now -- thanks for sharing and promoting these guys - -they deserve it.

Thank you

David Anttony

Danielle said…
I love TOMS shoes and think that what they are doing is a super unique approach to business! Thank you for highlighting them here!

Su-Jin Moreland said…
Thanks for your top 10 lists. I've learned a few things that I'll be sure to consider when posting on my blog about products which benefit worthy causes.

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