Macy’s Cause Marketing for the National Park Foundation

Today, Saturday April 25, 2009, when you go into Macy’s and give $5 to the National Park Foundation, Macy’s will give you $5 off a $15 (or more) purchase and a ‘shopping pass’ that allows you 20 percent off basically anything else in the store.

In addition some undefined amount of the money generated will go to ‘local participating organizations that conserve and protect our environment.’ It’s all in celebration of National Park Week, which I was not previously familiar with.

The local charitable partner in my market is the Hogle Zoo, a facility and organization that I’ve always found underwhelming.

There’s a lot to like here. First off, I like the idea of the National Park Week, although so hard on the heels of Earth Day I don’t know whether or not this is the right week for it.

Other nonprofit organizations like heart disease and the breast cancer charities have successfully tread this path before. But it’s not clear to me that the National Park Foundation has the promotional juice of Go Red for Women or the affinity generated by Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The $5 donation to receive sales pricing puts cash into the National Park Foundation coffers in a way that a single transactional cause marketed product probably wouldn’t. For instance, note on the bottom right side of the ad that highlights a $1.95 reusable tote and generates a $1 donation to the National Park Foundation.

I also appreciate the paragraph of explanation of the National Park Foundation. Few cause marketing campaigns get that right.

For Macy’s part, this is just another sales promotion. Hardly a week goes by that Macy’s doesn’t have similar sales offers in their weekly newspaper ad. Macy’s sales are driven by sales, if you catch my meaning.

At any rate, when this promotion is over, it will be very clear to Macy’s management whether or not this promotion worked. (And if anyone from Macy’s would like to share results with me, I’ll happily publish them in this space.)

National Park Foundation doesn’t have ‘boots on the ground’ in very many markets. A split with local charities gives the promotion local relevance.

And so I applaud the National Park Foundation’s willingness to share with other worthy organizations praiseworthy. Too few charities understand that donors and the public expect them to play well in the sandbox with other charities.

They should have spelled out the split, however.

Likewise, I think a zoo as the local partner in this market or most markets is leap of logic. Rare indeed is the zoo that “conserve(s) and protect(s) our environment.”

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