Orkin's Fight the Bite is Cause Marketing that Fits the Cause and the Sponsor

Research and experience demonstrate that cause marketing works best when customers can easily see and understand a logical fit between the company and the cause.

Too often when I tell audiences this, I struggle to find good examples, although I can always think of really bad examples.

Orkin’s Fight the Bite is a good example.

When you buy Orkin’s mosquito service, the pest control franchise will make a $10 donation to Nothing But Nets. One hundred percent of each $10 donation will go to purchase and distribute insecticide treated mosquito nets to people in Africa.

In 2008 Fight the Bite generated $135,000. Orkin has guaranteed a minimum of $150,000 in 2009. Malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, infects 350-500 million people each year, and more than 1 million people die each year from the scourge. Ninety percent of deaths due to malaria happen in Africa, with a disproportionate share of the deaths occurring among young children. Estimates put the loss of GDP in Africa due to malaria at 1.3 percent.

Children who survive a bout with malaria are at greater risk of learning impairment and brain damage. University of Minnesota researchers found that one strain of the disease… cerebral malaria… causes cognitive impairment in one in four survivors.

While there are malaria treatments, there is not yet a vaccine. And African strains of malaria are increasingly resistance to drug treatments. For now the most successful strategy is to spray the insides of home walls with insecticide and ensure that everyone at risk sleeps under an insecticide-treated net. Combined those two measures are about 90 percent effective at stopping malaria in the home in Africa.

Malaria has long since been eradicated in the United States and Europe and much or Asia. But mosquitoes in the United States do carry the West Nile Virus, which sickens tens of thousands but kills relatively few compared to malaria.

Orkin’s pitch is that by ordering up its mosquito service you thereby eliminate the threat of West Nile in your yard and help preserve lives in Africa. And that’s not an exaggerated or inflated claim.

There’s plenty to like about this campaign. The logic of the campaign is persuasive and the relationship between Orkin and the net campaign is clear. It also has the appeal of helping to save the lives of young children. And, as I’ve pointed out before, in the developed world children are the universal cause.

If anything, Orkin undersells the fact that malaria kills many more children than adults. In Africa, 90 percent of those who fall victim to malaria are children. The lives the nets are most likely to save therefore are those of young children, and there’s no reason not to make that clear visually and in the text.

Finally, it would be a disservice not to mention Orkin’s partner Nothing But Nets. Nothing But Nets is a grassroots effort run under the auspices of the United Nations that had its start when sportswriter Rick Reilly wrote about malaria in Africa in a May 2006 issue of Sports Illustrated. In the time since some 2.7 million nets have been purchased for distribution in Africa.

Tip of the hat to Kate L for suggesting this post.

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