Using Sponsorship and Cause Marketing in Lieu of Advertising

In the Great Recession some companies are turning to sponsorship, including cause marketing, instead of carpet bombing us with more ads. Sponsorship is potentially cheaper than just buying ads, probably more targeted, more easily attuned to social media, and ‘stickier.’

Pepsi famously is spending a goodly chunk of its enormous ad budget on its Refresh Project, wherein the company is giving away millions to individuals, small groups, businesses, and organizations who are trying… broadly speaking… to better the world. The giving is determined by popular vote, thus ensuring that funding candidates get the word out. Pepsi has recently... and smartly… added a subset called Refresh the Gulf.

Less well known, perhaps, and less grandiose is Dodge Ram Trucks campaign called Letters for Lyrics. Write a letter to a soldier, take it to your local Dodge Ram dealer and you get the CD 'Breaking Southern Ground.' The campaign’s stated goal is to give away 1 million CDs. A download from the album is available from the Ram Trucks website.

I’m not a big enough country music fan to know the featured group, the Zac Brown Band, but I like this campaign. Someone once described country music as the ‘soft, gooey center of America,’ a portrayal I find fitting. Country music can be sentimental, patriotic, and clever in ways that other popular music seldom wouldn't even try.

("I'd Like to Check You for Ticks," by Brad Paisley comes to mind, for instance).

Given that, here’s a trick I hope Dodge tries. Somewhere hidden in the stack of the million letters they hope to get will be some really emotional stories. Old men who tell of their exploits in earlier wars; young children who tell of their own heartache; decent Americans who just want to help; and more.

Dodge should create a series of web documentaries that go behind those letters to tell the whole story. And then they should give two Dodge trucks away during the CMA Awards in November: one to the letter writer and one to the soldier who received it.

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