Skip to main content

Cause Marketing for the Chamber of Commerce

The Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce is offering paper icons to member organizations to raise funds for the annual University of Utah vs. Brigham Young University (BYU) Food Drive, which culminates at the rivalry football game in Salt Lake City on Saturday, November 27.

The money collected by BYU fans goes to the Community Action Services and Food Bank in Utah County. The suggested retail price for the icons, called ‘Y Marks,’ is $1.

(At left is a flyer for the campaign. I haven't laid my hands on an actual 'Y Mark' yet).

This is the first time I’ve seen a Chamber of Commerce sponsor a paper icon campaign, but it’s not hard to imagine why the Utah Valley Chamber choose to do it. Utah County, where BYU and the Utah Valley Chamber is located, is a natural hotbed of BYU football fans. It’s logical to assume that most of the small businesses in Utah County are either owned by or employ BYU fans.

Retail businesses are frequently members of Chambers of Commerce, and paper icon campaigns all but require a retail presence to be successful. Paper icon campaigns are also relatively inexpensive; just a few pennies a piece to produce in quantity. It’s easy to imagine a printer who is also a member of the Chamber and a BYU fan bumping the printing of the icons on to the tail end of another print job and doing them for free.

There’s a few other things at play in this campaign that are normally missing in a paper icon campaign.
  1. The Chamber almost certainly has hundreds of members with retail storefronts, meaning the potential footprint of the campaign is much larger than if it was taking place only at a chain of grocery stores in Utah County or at all the TGIFridays locations, for example.
  2. There’s unusual pride involved, too. The BYU football team is currently 5:5, while the University of Utah (my alumnus) is 8:2. Despite BYU's down year, few rivalries in college football are more bitter and none are as physically close. The two schools are only about 50 miles apart. So if BYU loses to Utah, it could still claim moral superiority if it won the food drive.
Even with those added dimensions, I think the Utah Valley Chamber could still make some improvements.

While Utah County is mostly BYU fans, there are a few diehard Utah fans there. Willing Chamber members could sell ‘U Marks’ but at, say, a $5 price. A loyal Utah fan might be willing to pay more to plant his red U in a sea of blue ‘Y Marks.’ The money raised in Utah County by selling 'U Marks' would still go to Community Action Services and Food Bank.

The Chamber could also set businesses against each other to see who sells the most. The incentive could be that the coach of the BYU football team, Bronco Mendenhall, makes a special appearance at the business that sells the most icons.

Finally, the Utah Valley Chamber should share this approach with the Salt Lake Chamber, headquartered in neighboring Salt Lake County, which is home to the University of Utah. (Only in Salt Lake County, the money would instead go to the Utah Food Bank, which serves the Capital City).

In fact, there’s a lot of Chambers around that country that ought to steal this idea.


Lalia Helmer said…
Hi Paul,
I love the way you think about creative ways of going beyond the original cause marketing idea.
Your idea of expanding the paper icon method to other Chambers of Commerce, would be great if Chambers were more attune to learning from each other.
I worked on a similar project in my local chamber to support the local schools with a coupon/paper icon type program. The response from the local businesses was not as good as expected.
Small businesses are focused right now on how to get customers to "shop local"
I congratulate the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce for bringing together their members in a collective effort that not helped a good cause but also benefitted the local businesses.
Hi Lalia:

I don't think the Utah Valley Chamber is unique. But I do suspect that it is unusual.

It's hard to emphasize enough that Utah County, where the Utah Valley Chamber is in place, is VERY pro BYU.

There are actually two universities in Utah Valley, but BYU owns their hearts in a way that the other university (called Utah Valley University) never will.

Likewise, they tend to hate the University of Utah with a red-hot passion.

In short, the emotion of this cause campaign isn't the cause, it's the rivalry. The cause is just piggy-backing on that emotion.

And that's to the food bank's advantage in this case.

Again, thanks for your comments.

Warm regards,

Popular posts from this blog

Three Ways to Be Charitable

I’ve spent a big chunk of my career working with or for charities. Many of my dearest and ablest friends are in the charity ‘space.’ And the creativity and problem-solving coming out of the nonprofit sector has never been greater.  Although I’ve had numerous nonprofit clients over the last decade or so, I haven’t worked in a charity for about 12 years now, which gives me a certain distance. Distance lends perspective and consequently, I get a lot of people asking me which charities I recommend for donations of money or time. My usual answer is, “it depends.” “On what?” they respond. “On what you want from your charitable activities,” I reply. It sounds like a weaselly consultant kind of an answer, but bear with me for a moment. The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas and means “from the heart,” implying a voluntary act. Caritas is the same root word for cherish. The Jews come at charity from a different direction. The Hebrew word that is usually rendered as charity is t…

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…

Five Steps To Nurture a 30-Year Cause Marketing Relationship

Last Monday, July 22, 2013, March of Dimes released the annual results of its campaign with Kmart... now in its thirtieth year... and thereby begged the question, what does it takes to have a multi-decade cause marketing relationship between a cause and a sponsor?

In the most recent year, Kmart,the discount retailer, donated $7.4 million to the March of Dimes, bringing the 30-year total to nearly $114 million. March of Dimes works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Too many cause marketing relationships, in my estimation, resemble speed-dating more than long-term marriage. There can be good reasons for short-term cause marketing relationships. But most causes and sponsors benefit more from long-term marriages than short-term hookups, the main benefit being continuity. Cause marketing trades on the trust that people, usually consumers, put in the cause and the sponsor. The longer the relationship lasts the more trust is evidenced.

There's also a sponsor finding cost that…