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Showing posts from February, 2009

Nationwide Cause Marketing with Twitter

Mash up a telethon, the nationwide live showing of an earnest documentary film about three women fighting poverty in their respective countries, CARE, ONE, Fathom, and Twitter, and what do you get?We've seen local and regional Tweet-a-Thons, but this will apparently be the first-ever nationwide sponsored Tweet-a-Thon.
From Tuesday, March 3 to Thursday March 5 when you Twitter with the phrase “#apowerfulnoise” in your Tweet, National CineMedia Fathom will make a $0.10 donation per CARE, up to 50,000 tweets, a rather modest $5,000. 
The event culminates on Thursday, March 5 with the showing of the film “A Powerful Noise” at 450 movie theaters across the United States. The film will be followed by a live panel discussion that includes the likes of Christy Turlington Burns, Nicholas Kristof, Dr Helene Gayle, Madeleine Albricht, and Natalie Portman. You can submit a question to the panel here.
The documentary was produced by Sheila Johnson, a Global Ambassador for CARE, and cofounder of B…

Bono on the Taint of Cause Marketing

All nonprofit fundraisers must make some accommodation with the issue of ‘tainted’ money.
It’s a question of morality. Is there money that you cannot accept because of the way it was generated or from whom it comes?If you’re PETA do you take money from Purina or Hormel? If you’re MADD do you accept donations from beer and liquor companies? If you’re a liberal political action committee can you accept money from a conservative? Or, vice versa? If you’re the Sierra Club can you take money from Clorox (without having to fire state directors)?
It’s not just a matter of cashing checks. It’s what cashing those checks says to the rest of your supporters. Will taking money from certain individuals or entities stifle dissent or muzzle your voice? Can you retain your independence and still accept money from those you disagree with? Are you enabling what I’ve come to call ‘causewashing?’
For many nonprofits the indirect nature of the donation in cause marketing doesn’t make the questions any less t…

Cause Marketing with Celine Dion, Hallmark and UNICEF

Made my annual pilgrimage to the nearby Hallmark Gold Crown store for Valentine’s Day (Feb 14) and couldn’t pass up the musical card display featuring songs by Celine Dion and benefiting UNICEF.This isn’t transactional cause marketing, but rather a licensing deal with Hallmark that dates to 2006. In the course of the year, Hallmark offers more than 100 cards… only a few of which are musical cards… carrying the UNICEF branding. 
I like the campaign. And I applaud the poor devil that had to clear the music rights. That is yeoman’s work, my friends.
But to me the messaging seems a little… to coin a term… 'Hall-mawkish.'
The line “where every child is free… simply to be a child” reads like a half measure. I know my Americanism is showing here, but don’t we want the world’s children to be free? Period. End of sentence?
And the opening line, “UNICEF and Celine Dion are committed to creating a world where children can grow up happy, healthy and hopeful…” draws too much equivalency betwee…

An Interview with Cause-Related Marketing Pioneer Jerry Welsh

Jerry Welsh is the closest thing cause marketing has to a father.
In 1983 after a number of regional cause-related marketing efforts, Welsh, who was then executive vice president of worldwide marketing and communications at American Express looked out his window in lower Manhattan at the Statue of Liberty. The Statue was then undergoing a major refurnishing, and in a flash Welsh determined to undertake the first modern national cause marketing campaign.
I say modern because almost 100 years before in January 1885, the Statue of Liberty was sitting around in crates in New York warehouses because the organization building the pedestal ran out of money. And so Joseph Pulitzer, the publisher of the newspaper called The World, proposed a very grassroots solution reminiscent in its own way to Welsh’s cause-related marketing.
Pulitzer ran an editorial promising he would print the name of everyone who donated even a penny. Sure enough pennies, along with dimes and nickels, quarters and dollars, …

Jeff Atlas Remembers Amex's Statue of Liberty Campaign

It was my pleasure to interview via email Jeff Atlas, the lead creative behind the celebrated American Express campaign 26 years ago to restore to glory the Statue of Liberty. The campaign launched modern cause marketing. Jeff’s client, Jerry Welsh, who was executive vice president worldwide marketing and communications at American Express, even coined the term ‘cause-related marketing.’Like a show that gets tested in regional theaters before going to Broadway, Amex tried out cause-related marketing first regionally before bringing it to New York and Lady Liberty.
Atlas writes, “It started in small regional efforts to support the arts. ‘Eat for the Arts’ was one memorable line we used. Another directed people to American Express Travel offices. ‘If you love the Dallas ballet, go away.’ Then came an effort to help Mount Vernon [George Washington’s home], then the Statue of Liberty. The rest is marketing history.”
The first thing I posed to Jeff wasn’t so much a question as a compliment…

Strategic Cause Marketing, Post No. 434

Strategic cause marketing like strategic philanthropy is one of those things to strive for. And as a blogger it's a topic that is all but evergreen.
Strategic cause marketing means there’s a logical connection between the cause and the company. So, a logical charity for a hair salon to support is Locks of Love, which makes wigs for people who have lost their hair due to a medical condition. A logical charity for children’s book publisher is a children’s literacy cause. A restaurant chain might choose a hunger charity, etc.
But certainly not all cause marketing is strategic. Nor should it be. Imagine how limited a cause with great affinity like UNICEF would be if they limited their sights to only those companies that sell to children in the developing world.
In the last few days I’ve come across two splendid examples of strategic cause marketing and strategic philanthropy.The first is from a pair of cheeky product designers who run an online retail outlet called ‘the.’ The second from…

Cause Marketing Your Valentine

On Monday, Feb 2 Lisa Scherzer, a reporter from contacted me with the following email: Hi Paul,I’m a writer at I’m working on an article about alternative Valentine’s Day gifts that are for a good cause. I’ve come across a bunch of nonprofits and other companies that have Valentine’s promotions that include, for example, giving proceeds from the purchase of an organic flower bouquet to charity.Would you be able to speak with me about this kind of cause marketing – in particular for Valentine’s Day? And how should consumers approach these kinds of items when shopping for gifts for their beloveds? I came across your Alden Keene blog and I thought you might be able to help.
Best regards,
Lisa I responded thusly:Hi Lisa:Great to hear from. Thanks for contacting me. Please let me know if this does not suit your needs, or if you’d like something else or something more.“Retailers big and small, online and offline rely on shopping seasons. You know, Valentine’s, M…

This Cause Marketers' Wish List for President Obama

Everybody has their wish list for President Barack Obama. This has been true of U.S. presidents since at least the time of President Andrew Jackson 180 years ago when people would walk up to the ‘People’s House’ as Jackson called it knock on the door and petition the great populist directly.Speaking as a cause marketer, here’s my wish list for President Obama, expressed in an open letter.
Dear President Obama:You have much to do in the opening days of your administration. But I hope you’ll carve out a little bit of your prodigious energy to think for a moment about a cause marketing, which I define as: “a relationship that bridges cause and commerce in ways that benefit both parties.”
Like many others, I have wishes and hopes for your administration. As a cause marketer, three stand out.
1). Please make cause marketing donations tax deductible. Doing so would almost certainly boost consumer spending.
This has been proposed by Professors Anup Malani and M. Todd Henderson, both at the Unive…

Cause Marketing in Your Signature Line

MyContactCard, which builds web apps, has just launched CauseMail, a souped-up HTML signature line for your emails that includes contact information using branding from a select group of charities and generates a yearly $6.48 donation to the chosen charity.
The service costs an individual $12.95 a year. It is being marketed to both individuals and charities.
The pitch MyContactCard is making to charities goes like this: “100,000 supporters sending just 10 emails a day deliver over 365 million graphic, clickable impressions a year with the Cause branding, culture and donate now links.”
I like this idea and I like the execution. But frankly if that pitch represents their target market, they’re barking up the wrong tree. The number of nonprofits in the United States with 100,000 supporters who are online is a pretty small number.
Tens of millions of Americans gave more than $306 billion to charity in 2007. One third of that that goes to churches. The rest goes to literally millions of 501(c)…