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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.

The second lesson is related and it has to do with familiarity. Procter & Gamble genuinely understands Special Olympics. Year-in year-out the Special Olympics FSI naturally features the Special Olympians. But this one also has a ‘Thanks Mom,’ theme that recognizes that before anybody else hugs one of the Special Olympians moms have played their own heroic part. Partners that have only been together for a few years probably don’t know enough about each other to take this approach.

The third lesson is that P&G doesn’t go cheap on the production elements of the promotion. If you look closely at the FSI it becomes plain that all the photographs were taken for the promotion. There’s not a stock photo in sight. The result is a visual authenticity missing from a lot of cause marketing advertising these days.

The fourth lesson… and probably the most important… is that while P&G is using the FSI to push product through the channel, they also enlist their retailer partners to pull from their end. At left is a Shopco circular in the same newspaper. All the items on this page are also in P&G FSI and the copy and photographs on this page refer back to the P&G FSI.

Better still, aside from the picture of the FSI cover, none of the pictures are also in the brandSAVER FSI. In other words, P&G provided Shopko with other pictures from the FSI photo shoot, allowing it bask in the light of the halo provided by Special Olympics.


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