Skip to main content

Injecting Emotion into Your Cause Marketing

Successful cause marketing appeals not only to your head, but to your heart as well.

The head part comes easier for me and probably for many of you as well. So how do you inject heart into a cause marketing campaign?

Ulta’s answer is to ask people to write their breast cancer stories in a letter and then post them in the front windows of their stores.

They call it 'Windows of Love.'

Ulta supports The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Ulta is the largest discount cosmetics and fragrance retailer in the United States with more than 330 stores in some 38 States.

There’s an Ulta store that I can almost coast down to from my house, so I went down there to check it out.

The store devoted the better part of three of its four windows to the promotion. One of the window displays explained the promotion and the other two contained actual letters.

The letters were unformatted. That is, so near as I could tell they were posted exactly as they were submitted. The challenge was that some of the letters appeared to be multi-page and it was sometimes tricky figuring out where some of the letters started and ended.

Some letters contained names, some did not. In my cursory look I didn’t see any place information like city and State. Some of the letters appeared to have been seeded by Ulta employees. Some of the letters were about the person who had written the letter and some were about someone they knew and loved. But there were no pictures.

That last one is a big problem in my opinion.

Nothing helps me connect with someone emotionally like the ability to see the person who’s telling me their story. I know that there are privacy challenges, but I don’t think they’re insurmountable.

And imagine how much more personally affecting the window display would have been if the people in the window not only included their picture, but were, in fact, from my area or at least my own State.

Finally, when you look at the display from the sidewalk it’s just one big patch of gray. While color photos of the letter writers would help in this regard too, the letters themselves need to be on colored paper at least.

And wouldn’t it be cool if the letters, when looked upon from afar, painted an image of the iconic pink ribbon that symbolizes breast cancer?

Comments

Paul,

This is an excellent post you wrote on Ulta's breast cancer campaign. I agree with your take on it 100%. While the cause is a good alignment with Ulta to take part in and their intentions were good, they completely missed the mark. I see it as a rather sophmoric approach to cause campaign support, good ideas but poor execution. In addition to your comments (right on too), I would add: there was no direct call to action, nothing. What were window shoppers asked to do or customers? The idea should have been in-store support. Also, it would have had a greater impact if they had local Ulta stores, connected to local breast cancer charity - with local women's stories and photos about their crusade against cancer.

It is amazing to me that large companies do not invest in business giving or cause marketing experts. It's the one aspect of business where the benefits are manifold including increasing the bottom line when a campaign is done with a strategy. It is no longer a good thing to if they desire to make an impact on communities, causes and consumers. Your post is one good example.
Kate Lee said…
I agree, Maggie! This was a huge missed opportunity for both Ulta and the related cause.

The lack of local connection to the cause, and the missing in-store enthusiasm ... yawn!

Ulta should have issued pink t-shirts to all employees, which would have connected to the cause AND provided opportunities for the campaign to have some endurance (what others sometimes call legs).

At minimum, couldn't the letters have been formatted to create a huge pink ribbon? Where was the co-branding? All retail organizations create "maps" for their displays so stores will have similiar looks. This campaign needed that visual direction.
Maggie and Kate:

Thanks for your considered comments.

I sense from both of you that you want Ulta to succeed in their cause marketing efforts.

I'm confident that success in this endeavor is close for Ulta. Especially if it takes your terrific advice.


Warm regards,
Paul
I actually liked the campaign a lot but agree images and a call to action would help. I think there's an implicit call to action to share your story but more could be done. Thanks for everyone's thoughtful comments.

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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…

50 Cent, Cause Marketer

Curtis Jackson, aka rapper 50 Cent visited the horn of Africa in September 2011 hosted by the United Nations and committed to provide 1 billion meals to the World Food Programme over the next five years, funded in part by several cause marketing efforts.

The Horn of Africa has a lot of problems right now, nonetheleast of which is that starvation there is rampant, long-term drought is endemic, and working institutions are few.

Since the UN's World Food Programme can manage to deliver a meal for about $0.10, Jackson has basically committed to donating $100 million (or 200 million 50 cent pieces). That's a very big number.

He gave his commitment a kick start with a donation of $350,000. Like him on Facebook, and when he reaches 1 million new likes, he’ll donate another $1 million.

50 Cent is also tying the sales of his Street King energy drink to the World Food Progamme (WFP). For every bottle sold, 50 Cent will donate one meal.

Street King competes with 5-Hour Energy Drink, a ca…