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Showing posts from December, 2010

When is a Celebrity Not Enough for a Cause Campaign?

Brooke Shields’ face graced this ad for Allergan’s prescription eyelash-grower called Latisse in dozens of magazines for the better part of 18 months. Allergan still lists her as a celebrity supporter on the Latisse website, even though actress Claire Danes has superseded Brooke in the recent print ads I’ve seen.

Latisse sponsors the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I first profiled this campaign back in July 2009, when I saw it in Real Simple magazine, meaning the creative was available at least in time for that ad.

Since everything else is in the creative is basically the same except for some typography, why on earth would Allergan not use Brooke in this ad that ran in the September-October 2009 issue of Bride’s Magazine, but would use her ad in the November-December 2009 issue of Bride’s?

One obvious possibility is that Bride’s Magazine, which publishes 6-times a year, has a longer lead time than Real Simple, which publishes monthly.

But I doubt it.

It could be that Allergan is testing Brooke aga…

Buy Groupon for $15, Donate $30 to Save the Children

Unless you’re clueless to the world of tech and marketing… like, say, a headhunter in New Guinea… or utterly distracted, like jailed Russian oil oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky…you’ve probably heard of Groupon (and the reported $6 billion buyout offer from Google the company turned down!).

Groupon is a deal-a-day website promoting local businesses to 35 million members in hundreds of cities in nine countries in North America, South America and Europe. One of Groupon’s most common approaches is to negotiate the sales of merchandise or services for half their listed price.

But the Groupon from Wednesday, Dec. 29 in Greenville, South Carolina offered a different sort of half-off promotion. When you donate $15 to Save the Children, $30 will go to the respected international aid charity.

How does that work?

The only way it could work is if one or more people provide the matching funds, and the Groupon site confirms this:
“All donations made via this Groupon support Save the Children's Global …

Who’s Got Shaq's Back in This Cause Ad?

Shaquille O’Neal, NBA legend, rap artist and pitchman for Comcast showed up in his guise as ‘Shaq-A-Clause’ in this pre-Christmas circular from Toys ‘R’ Us benefiting Toys for Tots.

The press release quoted Shaq saying: “My parents always encouraged me to give back to those less fortunate, and ever since I made it to the NBA, I’ve been visiting Toys“R”Us stores during the holiday season to buy gifts for kids in need.”

There’s a Facebook component, special appearances by O’Neal at Toys ‘R’ Us stores, online videos, a microsite, support from Shaq’s own website and a $250,000 seed donation from Toys ‘R’ Us.

Still something’s missing and it's called a copy editor. The second line of copy reads: “Cash donactions accepted through Christmas Eve.”

Come on people, someone needs to get Shaq's back!

Cause Marketing the Ballet

Most ballet companies in the United States balance their books each year based in large measure on how well their performances of The Nutcracker go each December.

And for that they owe no small debt of gratitude to Willam Christiansen, who founded the San Francisco Ballet in 1933 and the forerunner of Ballet West in Salt Lake City in 1963. Christensen was also the first American to choreograph and mount a full-length version of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in the United States, although the great Russian choreographer George Balanchine had choreographed it in Europe years before.

So a ballet company would certainly welcome a little extra publicity during The Nutcracker season.

At least that’s one way to read this ad from a local Audi dealer that began its run in the Salt Lake City newspapers before Christmas and featured Ballet West’s Principal Ballerina Christiana Bennett and Soloist Haley Henderson Smith in costume.

The copy at the bottom of the ad tells us that Strong Audi is the “offi…

Push and Pull in Cause Marketing

In the early days of the practice the cause marketing you were most likely to see involved consumer packaged goods with donations predicated on coupon redemption.

Cause marketing has gone 100 different directions in the since and CPG promotions no longer dominate the cause marketing landscape. Nonetheless I see at least four lessons for today’s cause marketers from Procter & Gamble’s current CPG promotion at the left for Special Olympics.

The first is longevity. P&G and Special Olympics have a 28-year relationship. I have no inside knowledge of this partnership, but I’d bet that in those three decades there’s been dozens of personnel changes. I’ll bet there’s been strong personal relationships and weak ones and plenty that fell in between. I’ll bet either party has thought about walking away from the partnership. What P&G and Special Olympics have is something like a long and happy marriage that is stronger in part because there’s been some push and pull between the partners…

Merry Christmas From Alden Keene and the Cause Marketing Blog

The long-standing Christmas Eve tradition at the cause marketing blog is to show the video of the prior year’s appearance of Darlene Love singing 'Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)' on the Late Show with David Letterman. You can see Love’s 2009 appearance below.

Love first recorded ‘Baby’ in 1963 and she is still going strong at age 72 (according to Wikipedia). Watch the video and you’ll wonder how Love could possibly be 72.

But surely there’s a rocking good Christmas song that’s less 30 years old (‘We Are the World’ doesn’t count because, God bless 'em, Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson didn't write an actual rock song).

The good news is I found a Christmas song that actually rocks and is less than 30 years old. That is to say, I remembered this great song from rocker Billy Squier which he performed on MTV in December 1981 (when I was 7 months old). Look closely for MTV’s original VJ’s: Martha Quinn, Nina Blackwood, JJ Jackson, Mark Goodman, and Alan Hunter.

With Squier…

Basic Improvements To a Promising Paper Icon Campaign

Yesterday, December 22, 2010, I bought this paper icon at a local chain of 31 stores called Fresh Market, which is owned by a large grocery co-op headquartered in Utah, called Associated Foods. Sales of the icon benefits the hungry, women's shelters, military families, and community centers... based on what the individual store decides.

Paper icon campaigns and their new-age descendents have been with us for two decades now and it seems that everybody thinks they know how to do them. I see a lot of these kinds of campaigns (and buy every new one I see). The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database now has dozens of examples.

My analysis of the paper icons in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database is that only those who have been doing paper icon campaigns for a long time are any good.

In the spirit of improving this campaign, which I think shows promise, here’s what I suggest:
Scratch the other charity options and just go with food banks. Fresh Market is a store. It feeds people. The co…

Radiothons As Fundraisers

Nine local stations in my market are conducting a two-day radiothon benefiting the State’s largest homeless shelter... called the Road Home... yesterday and today. Their fundraising goal is $250,000.

This pales in comparison to the big dogs of radiothons, Children’s Miracle Network and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which generate tens of millions of dollars. But it’s an admirable effort nonetheless, none the least of which because it involves stations from two separate ownership groups and multiple radio formats!

After getting killed in the early days of the Great Recession the Radio Advertising Bureau reports that radio has grown in 2010, although more so at the national than local level. Still, how do you do ask a local radio station to do a radiothon at a time when stations can't afford to turn down even one ad?

Here’s how: most stations do change the way they format their programming during the radiothon, but the time spent talking about the cause comes out of the music …

Late Season Cause Marketing from Benefiting Toys for Tots

Now through December 31, 2010 when you ‘Like’ Coupon Mountain on their Facebook page, the company will donate $1 to Toys for Tots, up to $50,000. specializes in delivering discount offers to subscribers and visitors.

I confess that I don’t entirely understand the company’s business model, but I assume it’s based on referral fees and sponsored listings. But I think it’s safe to assume that the more people that subscribe and use the service, via the website or through Facebook, the better for So the approach, which rewards sign-ups (which would include Facebook ‘Likes’) is not surprising.

But it may come too late in the Holiday Season to be as effective a cause marketing promotion as it could be.

You, my faith reader are sophisticated as to the things of the world. You know that Toys for Tots can make good use of donations whether they come in December or in July.

However, for the less worldly-wise Toys for Tots screams Christmas gifts. So a promotion t…

Asymmetric Sponsorship in Cause Marketing

Donate a gently-worn coat at a drop-off box at one of more than 450 Burlington Coat Factory stores in 45 states and Puerto Rico and you’ll get a coupon for 10 percent off your total purchase at the store. The charity partner is One Warm Coat.

The campaign began October 29, 2010 and runs through January 17, 2011. This is the campaign’s fourth year with Burlington and the media sponsor ABC’s morning show Good Morning America. In 2009-2010 the drive generated 220,000 coats, an average of almost 500 per store and 24 percent more than the year before.

Judging from the coverage Good Morning America lavishes on this promotion it’s plain that ABC loves this promotion. In fact, if you’ve donated or received a donated coat, Good Morning America’s producers want to hear from you.

Maybe you saw Heisman Winner Cam Newton donating a coat on a recent Good Morning America or the stars of “Wicked” or the stars of “Billy Elliott,”or the cast of “Next to Normal,” or the X-Games Champions Sarah Burke and Si…

Unconnected Cause Marketing

Two cause marketing ads in two separate publications both promote the Make-A-Wish Foundation and are both dated November 29, 2010, and yet other than the logo and the benefiting organization, they are strangely unconnected.

The Make-A-Wish ad appeared in People magazine, promoting Darren, one of their wish kids, along with the organization’s seasonal awareness and fundraising effort called Season of Wishes.

The other is from the inside back two pages of a Macy’s circular promoting the retailer’s ‘Believe’ campaign, which I greatly admire for its breadth and depth. As I’ve confessed before, I’m a sucker for these big involved campaigns because having worked on a few of them, I know what it takes to get them just right.

It’s probably too much to ask Macy’s to coordinate its circulars or other media with Make-A-Wish, but the ad for Make-A-Wish in People… whether they paid for it or not… is commercial advertising. That is, they controlled the content and its placement.

So in a magazine ad lik…

It’s Not a Good Sign When Your Cause Marketing Campaign Requires Three Graphics to Explain It

From November 26, 2010 through December 25, 2010 when Southwest Airline passengers check in at the Airport using Facebook Places and their web-enabled device, Southwest will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $300,000.

That’s pretty straightforward. And yet the webpage that describes the how-to of the promotion requires the three graphics at the left to walk you through it.

The first graphic explains that you must open Facebook Places with your mobile device and click “Check In.”

There’s a little more to the second graphic:

“Select the Place where you are from the Nearby Places list,” it says. “If you don’t see the Place name, type the name of the Place where you are into the ‘Search Nearby Places’ box.”

“You can also toggle the left-right arrows on the right of the search box to display lists of other Nearby Places.”

The third explanatory graphic is probably the raison d’etre of this promotion:

“Write an optional description of what you are doing at the Place where you are check…

Cause Marketing Saves Subaru Money and Generates $5 million for 5 Charities

Subaru of America is running third annual end-of-year cause marketing campaign called ‘Share the Love,’ which has helped the brand grow through the recession, increase its market share and decrease its incentive costs, all while generating substantial donations to five respected charities.

The campaign is wonderfully simple. Buy or lease a new Subaru before Jan 3, 2011 and Suburu will donate $250 up to $5 million total to the ASPCA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and the Ocean Conservancy.

The owner/leaser determines which charity gets the money. Subaru even allows you to split the money between the charities in percentages you decide. In the event certain new owners don’t express a preference the $250 is donated equally among all five charities. In campaigns like this that benefit multiple charities, I've often advocated the ability to split the donation.

Subaru also gets kudos on its website for pointing people to ways they can help …

Can This Headline Save Cause Marketing?

Because of the voluminous Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database I see hundreds of cause marketing campaigns a month, and one of the trends in writing headlines for cause marketing ads is to use a question.

Here’s two from the database for illustrative purposes, but I’ve seen similar headlines for the RED campaign and in dozens of other campaigns.

For more than a year you almost couldn’t avoid this ad from Ford Warriors in Pink, which benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The ad spent more time in more women’s magazines than did pictures of Angelina Jolie. It reads: “Will a T-Shirt Help Cure Breast Cancer”?

The second example comes from Glad’s campaign for Cookies for Kids Cancer. It reads: “Can Lives be Changed With a Bake Sale”?

Now normally, I’d say a question is a poor way to write a headline. A question makes it too simple for the reader to check out. It’s too easy to read “will a T-shirt help cure breast cancer?” and answer it with a ‘no’ and move on.

But could there be method to all t…

Cause Marketing to Real Men

Can you cause market to real men? Do guys who wear plaid shirts and drive trucks to work respond to garden variety transactional cause marketing?

I know all the cause marketing surveys are scrupulous about including a 50:50 mix of women to men. And there’s no way to get to 88 percent approval ratings unless a good number of the men in the survey are saying that cause marketing works for them, too.

But let’s be honest, there’s no bottle cap campaigns from the beer companies for prostate cancer, even though the numbers of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States each year is almost exactly the same as the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

For most of my time in cause marketing I’ve assumed that women are more responsive than men to cause marketing appeals. And the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study bears that out, sort of. Cone finds moms much more responsive to cause marketing than the population as a whole. More than the population as a whole, moms are more likely…

Twitterific Cause Marketing

Austin-based HelpAttack! wants to help you use your Twitter superpowers for good.

Sign up and pledge a certain amount per Tweet for a month to the charity of your choice. At the end of 30-days HelpAttack! tallies your Tweets and sends you a bill. Donations are processed and fulfilled through Network for Good.

HelpAttack! has nearly 6,000 charities already in place. It’s a simple matter to add yours if it isn’t already on the list. At this writing, the average pledge per Tweet is $0.28 and the average monthly pledge is about $28.

The idea for HelpAttack! germinated with Sarah Vela, the CEO who posed the classic entrepreneur’s question, what if?

“The idea came to me during last year’s Movember pledge drive,” she says. “There was a lot of activity online in the form of passionate participants asking for support from their friends. I wondered, what if all that activity were the actual donation? What if the act of being online was generating dollars for Movember? What if every Tweet were worth…

Copy and Paste Cause Marketing

Like the look and feel of a webpage? Well copyright laws notwithstanding, nothing could be easier to steal. Open the webpage’s source code and there it all is.

From a distance it looks like Dannon Yogurt’s newish label campaign benefiting the National Breast Cancer Foundation opened the source code to Yoplait’s longstanding effort for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and just copied and pasted.

Both benefit breast cancer charities. The donation amount… $0.10 is the same. The pink ribbons on each are similar, as are the labels in question. The only real difference is that Dannon is redeemed via an online method and Yoplait requires you to mail the labels to a physical address.

It seems like a defensive measure on Dannon’s part. In one fell swoop, Dannon made Yoplait’s cause marketing effort slightly generic. Of course, that’s a two-edged sword because it made Dannon’s yogurt cause marketing slightly generic, too.

To continue the source code metaphor, there are webpage designers who take source …

Where's Kmart's Cause Marketing? Let Tom Tell You.

The other day I posted the question “Where’s Kmart’s Cause Marketing Effort?” in the Christmas season circulars and Tom Aiello, Division Vice President, Public Relations at Sears Holdings was kind enough to respond.

He also graciously agreed to answer 10 questions I had for him about Kmart’s “Purpose Marketing,” and the company’s notably-long sponsorship of March of Dimes, along with Kmart’s newer sponsorship of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s brilliant Thanks and GivingCampaign.

1. Kmart has been a sponsor of March of Dimes for more than a quarter of a century. How has the complexion of that sponsorship changed over time. How is it the same?
“Kmart is dedicated to helping the March of Dimes and this is the 27th year that Kmart will be partnering with the March of Dimes and our 18th year as a national sponsor of the March for Babies walk. Kmart is the March of Dimes longest standing corporate supporter and largest contributor to its mission, and has raised $90 million on behalf o…

Strategic vs. Non-Strategic Cause Marketing Relationships

There’s been some chatter recently in the blogosphere and elsewhere about strategic cause marketing. That is, if you’re a sponsor, ensuring that your sponsorship of the cause bears some rational relationship to your business.

The effort on the left from Montblanc, the fountain pen maker, pretty much passes muster. From June 2009 to May 2010 when you bought this special edition pen, called the Meisterstruck Signature for Good Edition, 10 percent of the purchase price went to a UNICEF education programs because “The ability to read and write is a fundamental human right and the most important asset to children.”

(For examples of other Montblanc 'donation pens,' click here. For this campaign, Montblanc set a minimum donation of $1.5 million. And while we're at it, let us now take a moment to praise a campaign that sets a minimum donation, but not a maximum. Huzzahs to Montblanc)!

I would have said that parents who can feed and shelter their children is a child’s most important a…

Kroger Uses Cause Marketing with a House Brand

For several years now I’ve been agitating for cause marketing for retailer’s house brands. Now I’ve finally seen one from Kroger benefiting breast cancer research.

Here’s my argument; in recessions house brands do very well. But once the hard times are over, consumers return to the name brands.

But if a cause marketing effort could help a retailer preserve even 5 percent of the customers that switched during the recession, it could potential be worth tens of millions to the bottom line every year.

I originally made my case for house brand cause marketing back in a post on November 18, 2008.
In the declining economy, people in the UK, the US and elsewhere are buying more ‘house brands.’

Of course they are, you say. What could make more sense than to get the same-quality or nearly the same quality for a meaningful savings?

I don’t have a handy chart to demonstrate, but this is what always happens in bad economic times. When the economy dips, sales of cheaper house brands and generics take off…

Cause Marketing for Hunger Free Families

Feeding America, which generates donations of funds and food for affiliated food banks all over the country, wants you to spread the word to 10 other people about families in hunger in America, and when you do you could win the chance to present a check for $10,000 to your local food bank.

The campaign is called Hunger Free Families and the spokespeople are Laila Ali and Curtis Conway. Curtis is a former NFL wide receiver and current color analyst for NFL radio broadcasts and Laila is a former boxing champion and the daughter of Muhammad Ali, who was something of a boxer himself.

You go to the website, watch the videos, sign up and agree to send an email to 10 people… I choose the preformatted one, but I could have modified the language… to 10 people. This isn’t one of those deals that pulls out all your emails addresses out your Outlook or Yahoo account. That would be spam. I had to copy and paste them in one by one.

After you send out the email, it takes you to a screen that allows you…

Where’s Kmart’s Cause Marketing Effort?

Sunday’s newspaper was clogged with flyers from most of the major retailers in my market; Macy’s, Walmart, Target, JC Penney, Sears, Kohl’s and Kmart. The first six listed all devoted at least some space in their sales flyers to their respective cause marketing efforts. Conspicuous by its absence was Kmart.

At left is the cause marketing campaign from Sears called Heroes at Home Wish Registry, which offers Sears gift cards to military members and the families registered in the program. Sears is the sponsor and founder of the campaign.

(Macy's campaign benefits Make-A-Wish, Target's benefit's St. Jude; JC Penney's benefits the Salvation Army Angel Tree, and Kohl's benefits Kohl's Cares for Kids).

I show this page from the Sears flyer because Sears Holdings owns the 1,327 or so Kmarts in operation. Indeed, go to either or and you’ll see the overlap of the brands. Sears Holdings is publicly held, but controlled by billionaire-financier Eddie Lampe…

Which Celeb To Pick for Your Cause Marketing Campaign?

Pop quiz: You have an enviably large promotional budget for your cause marketing campaign and you need a celebrity. Do you choose Marcus Samuelsson, celebrity chef? Or do you choose Harrison Ford, the man who has sold more than $3.6 billion in domestic movie tickets in his career and whose planes are worth more than you’ll make in your lifetime?

The answer is, of course, it depends.

Marcus Samuelsson is co-owner of Acquavit restaurant in New York City, plus several others, and has a wonderfully interesting personal history. He’s originally from Ethiopia, but was adopted along with his older sister by a Swedish couple when he was three years old.

He took an early interest in cooking and trained in Sweden, Switzerland and Austria before coming to the United States at age 21 and promptly establishing a reputation as a chef to be reckoned with. He has a philanthropic bent, a brilliant smile and is married to the lovely model Gate Maya Haile.

By contrast, Harrison Ford is so rich and famous th…