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…

The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Stock Index Dramatically Outperforms Other Indices

There are stock indexes galore; the Dow, S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, the Wilshire 5000, the FTSE, and hundreds more. But how would an index of the stocks of companies that do a meaningful amount of cause marketing perform compared to those well-known indexes? Pretty well, as it turns out.

I first floated the idea of a stock index that would track companies that do cause marketing back in 2009. I tried to figure out Yahoo Pipes so that I could put the feed right into this blog. But alas sometimes the geek gene does fall pretty far from the tree.

So I talked to programmers to see if I could find someone who could do the same, but it was always more than I was willing to pay.

Finally, last week I hired a MBA student to do it all in a spreadsheet, and what do you know but that over the last 15 years a basket of 25 cause marketing stocks dramatically outperforms the Dow, the S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, and the Wilshire 5000.

The index, which I call the Alden Keene Cause Market…

Cell Phone Fundraising

There you are walking down Lake Shore Drive past the rising Chicago Spire building eating a Chicago Red Hot, when you’re struck by a billboard with a message from, say, MercyCorps, asking for help providing relief to the cyclone-battered people in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy delta. But the sign doesn’t feature a website URL, a toll-free telephone number or even an address to send a check. Instead the sign tells you to text the word ‘Give’ to a number using your cell phone and a $5 donation will be made.

To the Japanese or Europeans that scenario probably sounds not so much futuristic as so 2006.

But it’s new in the United States, made possible by lower fees from the cell phone carriers. If analysts are correct, cell phone fundraising may be a prominent future fundraising channel for charities with a clear mission, strong brand recognition and the ability to effectively get their message to their audience.

What’s the potential upside of this mobile phone fundraising in the United States?

“$100 mil…