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Showing posts from October, 2010

Hand-Dipped Cause Marketing

Most retail in America is promotion-driven and tied to seasons and holidays: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, Back to School, Thanksgiving, New Years, etc.

But not every company can promote around all of those seasons. For a chocolate company the main seasons are Christmas, Valentines and Mother’s Day. Many’s the small chocolatier that does banner business in those three seasons and then limps through the rest of the year.

(This is true for certain nonprofits as well. There are dozens of nonprofit ballet companies whose fortunes rise and fall for the year depending on how well their annual production of the Nutcracker does each Christmas season).

But if a chocolatier… or any other retailer… could add an extra season, well then that could be pretty sweet addition to the bottom line.

For National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Shari’s Berries, which sells hand-dipped strawberries, truffles and the like is offering a number of pink ribbon strawberry package…

Hiring Celebrities in Cause Marketing

One of the coins of the realm in cause marketing is the use of celebrities. The right celebrity, used well, can draw attention to your cause marketing campaign, lend it legitimacy, bring new resources to bear, and more.

You can try and recruit celebrities yourself, or, for a fee, you can use a matching service.

One such service provider is Limelight Media, founded by Wendy Dutwin. That's her on the left. In the cause marketing space Limelight Media has worked on programs such as Hilary Swank with Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program; Brooke Shields with Tupperware's Chain of Confidence initiative; and Tim Gunn’s Addressing Psoriasis campaign.

I put a few questions to Wendy on how her service works:

1). What can a sponsor/cause legitimately ask a celebrity to do in a cause marketing effort?
It really depends on the scope of the campaign. If it’s PR initiative only, typically a contract between a brand and a celebrity will include a certain number of TV & Print Interviews, Eve…

Pizza Hut Paper Icon Program for the World Food Program

Pizza Hut is currently raising funds for the UN's World Food Program using the paper icon at the left, a mobile phone text fundraising effort, and celebrity support from songstress Christina Augilera. The campaign called From Hunger to Hope also invites direct support through the campaign website.

From Hunger to Hope comes from Yum Brands, franchisor of Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, and A&W, and the campaign crosses all of its restaurants. In 2009 the effort generated $22.5 million for the WFP and other hunger agencies, which translated into 90 million meals.

Twenty-two million dollars is a laudable, even herculean effort. But consider that Yum operates 37,000 locations. Some locations will do more and some will do much less, but to raise $22.5 million each store needs to average $608.

With so many locations, a modest improvement in per store fundraising translates to huge numbers in the collective total. For instance, if per store fundraising goes up to $650 per…

Cause Marketing Post #438

I began this blog four years ago this month. This is posting number 438. The cause marketing blog gets 5,000 visits and nearly 8,000 page views a month. In four years the blog has received nearly 150,000 visits and 225,000 page views.

In those first few weeks, a good chunk of the traffic came from one or more people in Hyderabad, India. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to encourage me to keep going.

In October 2006 I thought I was writing for U.S., Canadian and maybe U.K. audiences, since I write in English. I know a great number of people in India speak English, but that traffic from Hyderabad surprised and delighted me nonetheless.

Now, while the bulk of the traffic still comes from Stateside readers, 30% comes from readers outside North America. The blog gets hundreds of readers from places like Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Bulgaria and Kenya.

I started the blog because in 2006 most of the available information on cause marketing was advocacy; i.e. here’s why you should undertake i…

Cause Marketing with Direct Sellers

The direct selling industry in the United States… think Amway, Avon, Mary Kay… was a $28.33 billion business in 2009, although the more interesting number may be the 16.1 million salespeople involved in direct sales.

Philanthropically Avon and Mary Kay both are strongly… although not exclusively… involved with women’s issues.

So who does Amway support with its philanthropy and cause marketing? The short answer is children and children’s charities. But there’s more to it than that.

By itself Amway has 3 million Independent Business Owners (IBOs) and operations in 80 countries. Suffice it to say that just writing a check to the local children’s hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan where Amway is headquartered… which Amway’s founders have done in a big way… isn’t entirely satisfying for the IBO in Japan or Singapore or even Canada.

Amway Global, ironically the North American affiliate of Amway Corp., mainly spreads its charitable dollars to three causes: Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Easter…

Love the Cause Marketing, Hate the Ad

As a marketer and a consumer I love Target. The house brands are terrific. The Target I shop most frequently seems to have more checkers that any Walmart I’ve ever been in. I love all the 'cheap chic' they sell. And their branding is dynamite. That big red bulls eye, the funky, super-visual TV ads, the 5% of income to charity. The partnerships with St. Jude and other nonprofits. It’s all great.

Of course in the great recession Walmart’s still kicking Target’s can, even though Target swears Walmart’s prices aren’t any better. Sometimes it seems to me that a contributing factor to Walmart’s continuing domination of Target is that all the damn branding Target does sometimes gets in the frickin’ way.

Case in point is this ad from the August 30, 2010 People magazine.

The promotion involves Baby Buggy, Jessica Seinfeld’s 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that donates infant and baby supplies to homeless shelters, parent programs, court child centers, and the like.

Throughout the year-long promotiona…

Foursquare Cause Marketing with Billboards

Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm used Foursquare to squeeze data out of participating commuters and a $50,000 donation from an anonymous donor.

But the Foursquare promotion didn't pull you into Earthjustice’s offices in Oakland, California.

Instead, the promotion invited commuters to check in at four donated billboards spread across the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. The check-ins triggered a $10 donation up to a maximum of $50,000. More than 5,700 commuters checked in at the ads and the donation goal was met.

That’s one of the ads at the left.

I like the use of Foursquare in this effort and I know that as a marketer I’d love to get my hands on all the data Foursquare collects. But The New York Times is touting this as the new hotness for Foursquare and nonprofits. I’m dubious.

When you check in at Foursquare at, say, Sarah’s Shake Shack, there’s a chance to physically engage with the brand: eat the product, for instance, or meetup with friends. Foursquare also allows p…

The Cadillac of Cause Marketing Promotions

Car sales in September 2010 were up 18 percent over September 2009, a hopeful sign for the economy. But among the various segments, luxury cars sales were up only 10.2 percent for the corresponding period.

So what do you do if you sell Cadillacs?

Brotherton Cadillac in Metro Seattle has launched a low cost, high-gloss promotion that makes terrific use of Twitter, generates donations for five charities in Seattle and offers you and I a chance to win a new 2010 Cadillac CTS like the one at left.

Here’s how it works: Brotherton invites you to donate to five well-regarded charities in the Seattle area: the Arthritis Foundation chapter, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, The Moyer Foundation, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Special Olympics Washington. The Moyer Foundation raises money for a local ‘bereavement camp’ for children ages 6-17. The suggested donation is $25.

The moment one of the charities reach $140,000 in donations, the promotion ends and the sweepstakes portion of the prom…

Gratitude and Transparency in Cause Marketing

The smartest charities have a rule that they must thank their donors in at least 5 ways. For good reason, too. Gratitude is a powerful inducement to future gifts. But how should sponsors thank customers/participants in cause campaigns?

To site just the last couple of posts; how should Chipotle thank the customers that pay $2 for a Boorito and thereby benefit Jaime Oliver’s charity? How might the hoteler Kimpton thank customers who buy their specialty drinks and help make a donation to local AIDS/HIV charities?

At left is how a local grocer thanked participants in making a donation to the American Heart Association. Because there’s no context in the blurb it’s hard to know what customers are being thanked for.

Sans that context the blurb is merely a nice gesture, but less than helpful to Maceys or the American Heart Association.

Transparency is chronically missing in cause marketing. And its absence means cause marketing campaigns are less effective than they could be.

What would be better?…

One Downside of the Pink Ribbon

Last Friday I extolled the many virtues of the pink ribbon. But the ‘open source’ nature of the pink ribbon ain’t all sweet yogurt and tasty lunch meats.

When everybody owns the ribbon nobody owns it and the result is that news coverage, like that at the left from NBC Nightly News on Sunday, October 17 ends up celebrating everything but the charity.

The piece leads with Washington Redskins Tight End Chris Cooley, whose mother Nancy was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2008, and was treated with chemotherapy.

The reporter, Peter Alexander, covers Cooley's feelings, Nancy's stiff upper lip in the face of the disease, an effort led by Cooley and his wife, and some of Cooley's Redskins teammates to brighten the lives of women in the Washington, D.C. area recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Alexander mentions that the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is in its twenty-fifth year. We learn about the NFL being behind the pinkness in the pro football locker rooms, and R…

The Cause Marketing Genius of the Pink Ribbon

Wednesday morning I had a cup of pink-topped Yoplait Strawberry-Mango yogurt for breakfast. When I mail in that top, along with the others we’ve collected, General Mills will make a $0.10 donation per lid to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

I stopped at my grocer’s deli and picked up a little smoked turkey. The lady at the counter was wearing a pink hat with Komen’s version of the pink ribbon, but like all the versions of the pink ribbon, emblematic of the fight against breast cancer. There was a counter card saying that Boar’s Head deli product supports Komen.

Later I was looking for one of those clear film protectors for my phone and I came across a local firm that sells just the thing. Oh, and they’re donating 5% of online sales in October to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

If I had done all the above on Sunday or Monday instead of Wednesday, I could also have listed the pink ribbons wrapped around the goalposts and players on the NFL games I saw.

This is October, National Breast Ca…

Tip a Glass Cause Marketing

When you buy one of three special Red Ribbon Cocktails at any of more than 50 Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants in 19 cities across the country, Kimpton will make a $1 donation to local HIV charities from October 1 to Dec 1

In addition, when you book a stay through Kimpton and use the code RRC, Kimpton will apply a 15% discount and give another $10 per night to a local HIV charity.

December 1 is World AIDS Day.

Kimpton has supported HIV causes for 20 years. Last year the effort generated more than $100,000 for 19 charities.

Kimpton links to all 19 benefiting charities and encourages patrons to make additional donations through the charity’s websites.

That’s a thoughtful step that relatively few sponsors take.

I’m a little surprised at the length of the campaign. Two months is a long time for a promotion like this to last, which demonstrates Kimpton’s commitment.

Making the benefiting charity a local one is normally a good ploy. Local people care more about local charities. But since people who …

Halloween Silver Bullet Cause Marketing

Come into Chipotle after 6pm this Halloween costumed as the scariest junk food you can imagine, hand them $2 and you'll get the silver bullet antidote to over-processed food in the form of a burrito, tacos, salad or rice bowl. In turn, Chipotle will donate the $2 to Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution, up to $1 million.

Take a picture of your costume in a way that shows Chipotle in the photo and submit it online before November 8 and you could win a grand prize of $2,500. Runners up get a check for $1,000, and third prize winners get a burrito party for 20 people.

The promotion, Brandweek reports, costs Chipotle as much as $3 million. It's an extension of the chain's longstanding promotion of inviting customers to dress up for Halloween as their favorite Chipotle menu item to get the silver bullet burrito completely free.

So why spend $3 million to raise no more than $1 million? Or, why doesn't Chipotle just write a $3 million check to Oliver's foundation?

While the burrito…

Virtual Cause Marketing Times Two

Frigidaire will donate $1, up to a total of $45,000, to Save the Children when you set a virtual table place this holiday season for kids and register on Facebook or at, similar to campaign from Electrolux for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Actress Jennifer Garner is lending her star power to the campaign, which also includes a sweepstakes element. The grand prize is a Frigidaire Professional freestanding range. A $50 gift card will be given away daily October 5, 2010 through January 11, 2011.

On October 6 I highlighted Electrolux’s going on at the same time for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Both campaigns have relatively low donation maximums. Electrolux’s has a $10,000 minimum and a $15,000 maximum. The minimum from Frigidaire is $40,000. Kudos to both for having minimum donations that represent a high percentage of the maximum donation!

Both campaigns are also part of larger donations from the two sponsors to the two charities.

Both feature attractive, high-…

Cause Marketing Breast Cancer Wear

Anytime a movie plays a hospital scene for laughs, one of the most reliable sight gags is those damnable hospital gowns they give you to wear. They’re too small, too short, ridiculously-cut, and for years they had that slit up the back that seemed calculated to mock a patient’s dignity.

But what if you have breast cancer and require periodic trips to the treatment center for chemo or radiation, breast exams, ultrasounds, MRIs, and the like. You can wear your street clothes in, but they aren’t at all functional for MRIs or radiation. And the functional hospital gowns, called ‘Johnnie robes,’ provided by hospitals and treatment facilities are almost dehumanizing.

Enter, which offers a kind of tunic to wear both into and during breast cancer treatments called the 'Playful Garment.' All cotton, permanent press, washable, Jillies come with a drawstring carryall that you can use to carry personal belongings around during treatments.

When your purchase Jillies, a portion of …

Cause Marketing From Marriott Benefiting the Red Cross

Today's post features an interview with John Wolf, Senior Director of Public Relations at Marriott about TownePlace Suites Make a Bed program benefiting the American Red Cross and enabled by Facebook.

When you make a virtual bed at the promotion's Facebook page, Marriott will donate $2 to the Red Cross, up to $50,000. The Red Cross will use the money to provide comfort kits to people in need. Comfort kits include soap, razor, toothbrush and the like.

1. How did the campaign come about?
Community service is at the core of Marriott International’s culture and TownePlace Suites has been a leading brand in giving back to communities where it does business. In this case, the Make a Bed Facebook application was a perfect fit. TownePlace Suites is an extended stay brand, serving people primarily on travel for weeks to months at a time with features, such as guest suites, kitchens, 24/7 access to food and beverage, and the TowneMap that familiarizes guests with the neighborhood. Because…

Cone’s Latest Survey on Cause Marketing


In its recently-released Cause Evolution Study, (registration required) Cone, Inc. found that people are only slightly more favorably inclined towards companies employing transactional cause marketing (53%) than to lump sum charitable donations (47%).

Transactional cause marketing is when the donation is tied to a purchase.

I’m still processing that part of Cone’s findings and I’m not sure if I believe or not. Maybe I just don't see how that finding really benefits sponsors. Assuming it's accurate, we can probably expect more efforts like the FSI (Free Standing Insert) above.

In late September, in time for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Purina dropped this FSI supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Purina, which started making animal feed in 1894, will write a check for $300,000 to Komen in support of its mission to cure breast cancer… in humans.

Back in May 2010, Purina ran a themed FSI for National Pet Month, in which during a thre…

Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month No Longer Inviolable for Other Cause Marketers?

It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month... the 25th anniversary!... and stores and the media are flooded with cause marketing for breast cancer research, raising the question: is cause marketing possible for non-breast cancer charities?

It seems to me that other cause campaigns are chipping away at the edges of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here are a handful of recent examples, all featuring celebrities as it turns out:

Electrolux will donate $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund this fall when you send a virtual cake to someone. That’s my cake to the left in the OCRF’s trademark turquoise. Frankly the virtual cake didn’t exactly track for me. That is, other than the fact that you can bake a cake in an Electrolux oven, it wasn’t clear to me what one thing had to do with another. As usual, daytime TV diva Kelly Ripa lent her promotional support.

Former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter headlined efforts for the UN designated World Habitat Day on Monday,…

Cheapo Cause Marketing

You know me, I love cause marketing. Almost any company, but especially those that face the consumer, could benefit from it.

But it rubs me wrong when I see humungous companies going cheap on the cause marketing donation amount.

In this ad from a recent Martha Stewart Living magazine Georgia Pacific is trumpeting their donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Since 2004, the ad says, Georgia Pacific has donated $675,000 to Komen through efforts tied to their Vanity Fair napkin brand.

Assuming that doesn’t include the 2010 donation, that’s an average of $112,500 a year. In 2010, the ad says, that donation will be $50,000.

Having never seen the Vanity Fair campaign, I can’t say if it’s a transaction-based cause marketing campaign or not. But the nice round number of $50,000 tells me that for this year at least it’s a straightforward donation.

There are companies around the country that would write a check for $50,000 and wouldn’t even go to the effort to issue a press release about it.

Who kn…

Cause Marketing That Refuses to Crash and Burn

For a limited time you can dedicate a small area of the #56 NAPA car, driven by Martin Truex Jr., to the name of someone touched by breast cancer by making a donation of as little as $5.60 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The goal is to raise $56,000 for Komen.

Here’s how it works: When you make a donation to Susan G. Komen through a special Facebook app, the name of the person you designate will be physically placed on the #56 car in conjunction with a special pink paint scheme. In October NAPA is also selling at its stores a co-branded pink and blue racecap for $3.99. The campaign is called, “All Out for the Cure.”

The custom-painted #56 car will race on Nov. 7 in all its pinkness at the Texas Motor Speedway at the AAA 500. In effect Komen and NAPA have developed a 200mph left-turn only icon campaign!

And in doing so they’ve skillfully avoided the inherent psychic challenge of putting a charity’s name on a racecar.

Years ago, when I worked at Children’s Miracle Network, we were approached…

Buy One, Plant One Cause Marketing

Hollywood, California-based WeWOOD will plant a tree every time you purchase one of its wooden watches.

The tree-planting will be undertaken by the nonprofit American Forests under the banner of its Global ReLeaf program. American Forests has been around since 1885 and represents a savvy choice by WeWOOD for a charity partner. I’ve noted before that in cases where the charity is better known than the sponsor, the sponsor benefits most from the relationship.

WeWOOD watches are available in several styles and four different kinds of wood. The red-brown wood (as at left) is reclaimed from flooring material waste. All the watches are currently priced at $119 and available online.

WeWOOD’s approach is a fresh take on BOGO, buy one, give one, that has taken cause marketing by storm, and reminiscent of Proctor & Gamble’s buy one plant effort for its men’s fragrance brand HUGO.

WeWOOD could certainly borrow a page from the HUGO campaign and allow people to track where their tree is planted. …