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Cause Marketing that Makes You Go Huh?

Buy a specially-marked bottle of Bayer HealthCare’s venerable brand One A Day multivitamin between September 16 and November 30 and you can redeem a code on the packaging or the store receipt at CaféPress.com and for $10 you get a semi-customized T-shirt with $1 from the sale of each T-shirt going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, up to a maximum donation of $10,000.

How do I know this? It's certainly not in the headline or subhead of the FSI to the left. Instead that run-on thought of a cause-marketing effort is spelled out right there on the very bottom of the FSI in reversed out 2-point type. Sharp-eyed mice everywhere will be able to read it.

It’s also on One A Day’s microsite, whatmatterstoyou.com.

Where to start with this mess of a cause marketing campaign?

Certainly multi-stage efforts like this have been a part of cause marketing almost since the beginning. But this one is complicated enough to be almost silly.

The FSI ad above literally can’t explain it all without resorting to mice-type. It’s not until you get to the website that you learn the money goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The FSI copy says only that the money goes to a cause ‘to be determined.’

As a result you get this weirdness whereby One A Day is co-branded not with a specific breast cancer charity, but with Café Press, the provider and fulfiller of the T-shirt offer. Now maybe One A Day had to throw Café Press’s logo to secure the $10 pricing, but does the Café Press presence otherwise enhance anyone’s willingness to redeem this offer?

The pink ribbon is synonymous with breast cancer charities, but it is not, by itself, a breast cancer charity.

The donation, $1 for a $10 item is a nice donation amount. But the $10,000 limit seems unhelpfully low.

The 'What Matter’s to You' piece of this is also hard to figure out. The guts of it come from Mindbloom, which is a kind of social network/goal-setting/game. If you find Mindbloom social network appealing, why register for it through the What Matters to You website? One A Day gives you no reason to do so.

Plus, how many people really want a T-shirt, even if it has your name on it, that also has branding from What Matter’s to You and One A Day on it? Now you can get all kinds of T-shirts these days with corporate branding on it. I’ve got a cool brown T-shirt with an Atari logo on it for instance. But I bought it for its retro appeal, not to pimp for Atari.

Finally, One A Day almost certainly had to guarantee the T-shirt blanks from Cafe Press as well as underwrite the cost of shipping. So One A Day is probably paying no less than $3 per shirt. Add to that the $1 per T-shirt donation and One A Day is into this for no less than $4 of hard cost per shirt. Why didn't they just take that $40,000 give or take and put together a more streamlined and compelling campaign?

This effort is a classic case of marketers putting together something that meets their needs and desires... and no one else's.

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