Skip to main content

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 asset, but I guess that’s because I’m a parent and not high-end fountain pen maker.

Caviling about silly hyperbole in ad copy aside, it’s easy to see the relationship between Mont Blanc and UNICEF’s educational programs.

But there’s plenty of successful cause marketing that goes on between sponsors and charities that share almost no strategic relationship.

This ad for Ford Warriors in Pink, which benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is a good example. In the main, Ford Warriors in Pink sells merchandise, little of it car related. Profits go to Komen. In 16 years, Ford has donated $105 million, a number which may also include Race for the Cure sponsorship dollars.

Critics would say that just because the campaign is successful for Komen doesn’t mean it’s a strategic choice for Ford. By rights, the thinking goes, Ford should be doing cause marketing for environmental organizations. Ford vehicles and the fuel they run on, deplete and pollute the earth’s resources and no matter what else it does Ford to mitigate that it should also do so with its cause marketing efforts.

But Ford supporting the Sierra Club or the Environmental Defense Fund, say, or even the Nature Conservancy, is a veritable minefield for both Ford and any would-be environmental partner. All three of those nonprofit organizations are membership-based and members of the Sierra Club, in particular, fought a bloody battle over cause marketing deals the Club engaged in with The Clorox Company, to cite one.

I sincerely doubt Ford and the Sierra Club could find common ground.

Then there’s the problem of what that cause marketing might look like. Warriors in Pink sells stuff; a lot of apparel but also accessories like scarves, and ties, a totes, along with a sprinkling of keychains and license plate frames. That model would be tainted for many environmental organizations, too.

Likewise you couldn’t exactly do transactional cause marketing either. Try out this thought experiment to see what I mean: “When you buy the 2011 F-150 Nature Conservancy edition Ford will donate an acre of grasslands to the Nature Conservancy…”

I’m not saying creative people couldn’t design something that worked for both parties. What I am saying is that a sponsor’s best choice for a charity cause marketing partner isn’t always necessarily the most strategic choice.


Popular posts from this blog

The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Stock Index Dramatically Outperforms Other Indices

There are stock indexes galore; the Dow, S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, the Wilshire 5000, the FTSE, and hundreds more. But how would an index of the stocks of companies that do a meaningful amount of cause marketing perform compared to those well-known indexes? Pretty well, as it turns out.

I first floated the idea of a stock index that would track companies that do cause marketing back in 2009. I tried to figure out Yahoo Pipes so that I could put the feed right into this blog. But alas sometimes the geek gene does fall pretty far from the tree.

So I talked to programmers to see if I could find someone who could do the same, but it was always more than I was willing to pay.

Finally, last week I hired a MBA student to do it all in a spreadsheet, and what do you know but that over the last 15 years a basket of 25 cause marketing stocks dramatically outperforms the Dow, the S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, and the Wilshire 5000.

The index, which I call the Alden Keene Cause Market…

Pimping for Constant Contact

OK, not pimping really. More like a gentle noodge to nonprofits and the companies that love them that it’s time to start email marketing.

I was invited to a local presentation on email marketing from Constant Contact, the Waltham, Massachusetts email marketing outfit whose target market is small businesses and nonprofits.

They offer a cause-related marketing campaign called Care4Kids meant to benefit children’s causes. Constant Contact customers are invited to nominate worthy 501(c)(3) children’s charities to receive a free account along with the training to create an effective email campaign.

Non children’s charities are probably still eligible for charity discounts. If you’re outside the United States you might be able to induce Constant Contact to consider your cause. Alternately, you could suggest a similar program to email marketing vendors in your home country.

It goes without saying… I hope… that every nonprofit needs an email marketing component. Email marketing is a good deal lik…

An Interview with Cause-Related Marketing Pioneer Jerry Welsh

Jerry Welsh is the closest thing cause marketing has to a father.
In 1983 after a number of regional cause-related marketing efforts, Welsh, who was then executive vice president of worldwide marketing and communications at American Express looked out his window in lower Manhattan at the Statue of Liberty. The Statue was then undergoing a major refurnishing, and in a flash Welsh determined to undertake the first modern national cause marketing campaign.
I say modern because almost 100 years before in January 1885, the Statue of Liberty was sitting around in crates in New York warehouses because the organization building the pedestal ran out of money. And so Joseph Pulitzer, the publisher of the newspaper called The World, proposed a very grassroots solution reminiscent in its own way to Welsh’s cause-related marketing.
Pulitzer ran an editorial promising he would print the name of everyone who donated even a penny. Sure enough pennies, along with dimes and nickels, quarters and dollars, …