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Cause Marketing That’s a Little Flat

Buy this special Strawberry Crème chocolate bar from Ritter Sport and when you do, you’ll help Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. make a $100,000 to The Leslie Simon Breast Care and Cytodiagnosis Center.

I bought this 100 gram bar from a floor-standing point of sale display. The coupon below was attached to the top of the display unit.

I had to look up The Leslie Simon Breast Care and Cytodiagnosis Center, but it’s a unit of the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, New Jersey, which is across the Hudson from Manhattan Island. I don’t know Englewood Hospital and Medical Center from Moses, but it is an affiliate of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, which is a respected name.

According to Ritter Sport’s U.S. website, the campaign was launched on October 1, 2010. But by the time I bought the chocolate bar at a neighborhood grocer on November 9, 2010, the display, which was one of those self-liquidating units, was still almost full. I'd bet that I bought the third of fourth bar sold out of an estimated 50 bars in the display.

That’s the challenge of being a specialty brand in a crowded marketplace like chocolate. Even though it’s a premium brand, in the United States Ritter Sport probably has to rely on a second-tier distribution network. Moreover, the display wasn’t exactly in prime real estate in the store where I bought it.

Worse, the display didn’t exactly tell the breast cancer story. It was mostly just pink ribbons and stacks of strawberry creme Ritter Sport bars.

I have an architect friend who, when he sees a building that is interesting looking but ultimately a failure, will try to soften the blow by saying without sarcasm or irony, "nice try."

I'm glad a respected German brand is cause marketing with an American cause. Like my architect friend says, nice try.

But between a promotion that wasn’t exactly timely on the ground, a charity that is almost obscure (the pink ribbon notwithstanding), a display that was underwhelming and poorly placed, this cause marketing promotion falls a little flat.

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