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 checking in. You can also tag your friends at the Place where you are.”

“Click the ‘Check In’ button again to share your visit.”

For people that check in through Facebook Places and leave descriptions, Southwest gets a very deep sense of the particulars of its passengers’ travel. Depending on the passenger it could be a nice basket of quantitative and qualitative market research along with all the other data that Facebook gives up on its users, multiplied by as much as 300,000 people. All for not much more than $300,000; a real bargain!

Anybody with a mobile-enabled device probably only has to do this once before they get it. But this campaign isn’t about the second time, it’s about the first.

The challenge is, complexity is the enemy of good cause marketing.

Subaru’s wonderfully effective Share the Love cause marketing promotion, featured in yesterday’s post, can be explained in 20 words.

If Facebook Places ever becomes commonplace, this cause marketing promotion might not require more than 20 words of explanation either. But Facebook Places isn’t there yet, and Southwest knows it. These three graphics make that abundantly clear.

Until then, Southwest is asking an awful lot of this cause marketing campaign.

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