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Showing posts from January, 2011

5% of $500 Million Would Be the Super Bowl of Cause Marketing

In time for Super Bowl 45 and its $100,000-a-second ads, Haberman, a media and marketing agency in Minneapolis has unveiled Add or Delete, a website and (potentially) a movement meant to persuade the global ad/marketing/PR agencies to donate 5% of the $500 billion annual global advertising budget to benefit global good.

5% of $500 billion would be $25 billion a year... the Super Bowl of Cause Marketing. That's a lot of scratch. But the numbers get big mighty fast when talking about the Super Bowl.

According to Haberman, a 30-second Super Bowl ad costs $1 million for production alone and another $3 million to air, meaning that Fox will gross something like $270 million for the 2011 game alone. In the last 20 years more than $2.7 billon has been spent on Super Bowl advertising.

Here’s what Haberman is suggesting. Go to the Add or Delete site on Facebook, a kind of ‘Hot or Not’ site for advertisements. If an ad inspires and delights, add it. If not, delete it. The sub rosa intent of th…

So Dark The Con of Men

I recently read that Aaron Tonken, convicted felon who defrauded charities, celebrities and politicians alike is out of prison now working on his second book (his first one is at the left) and eager to consult with you on your next fundraiser, although he's legally barred from handling money or fund raising directly. You can find him him on LinkedIn and Facebook.

He tells the Los Angeles Times that he's a changed man, properly medicated and emotionally stable.

A charity I worked for partnered with Tonken who went to prison in 2003 for fraud. The charity lost $100,000 due to Tonken’s machinations, but we recovered the money in full within weeks and well before his prosecution and conviction.

That same charity nearly did a deal with Cameron Lewis, who is in prison in Minnesota for defrauding hundreds of school districts of nearly $40 million using a now-defunct charity called the National School Fitness Foundation (NSFF).

The fraud amounted to a Ponzi scheme.

I knew Cameron. Met him …

Five Words: Maria Sharapova and Cause Marketing

“Now I don’t know what you do for your five-percent, but this man my husband has a whole plan, an image... we majored in marketing, Jerry, and when you put him in a Waterbed Warehouse commercial, excuse me, you are making him common. He is pure gold and you’re giving him “Waterbed Warehouse” when he deserves the big four -- shoe, car, clothing-line, soft-drink. The four jewels of the celebrity endorsement dollar.”

The wonderfully watchable actress Regina King spoke those lines as Marcee Tidwell in the 1996 Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr. movie Jerry Maguire.

The script was written by Cameron Crowe, but the sentiment probably came straight from legendary Southern California sports agent Leigh Steinberg. It’s said that Crowe, who also directed the movie, shadowed Steinberg for months while writing the script.

Nowadays, there are two new jewels in the celebrity endorsement crown; an eponymous foundation and a luxury watch deal. Check here for a list of the charities celebriti…

Getting NPO Logos Size Right in Cause Marketing Ads

I beat up Outdoor Research pretty badly in yesterday’s post for promoting its sponsorship of the nonprofit charity Leave No Trace so inconspicuously that it could scarcely be seen.

Already I’ve been getting blowback for being too sharp in my criticism. Others have asked, in effect, “alright Mr. Smart Guy, how should sponsors promote their cause relationships when the ad itself isn’t primarily about the cause?”

It’s easy to understand this sentiment. I suspect that Outdoor Research's advertising budget is modest. No one, least of all me, blames a small company for adding one of its long time causes… Leave No Trace… to its existing advertising. By and large its bigger companies... like Proctor & Gamble and Coke... with fat advertising budgets that feature only their chosen cause.

The effort at left from Pure Protein Bar manages to balance its ad with the logo of its preferred cause just fine. The ad is about making better food choices, not Multiple Sclerosis. But no one would look …

Size Matters in Cause Marketing

Maybe it’s the old school Barry White I’m listening to as I write this, but size matters in cause marketing. (And don’t go there all you with dirty minds. I mean only that Barry was a sizable man and thereby able to attain certain vocal dynamics in the bass range that men of lesser stature could not).

I was reminded of this when I saw this ad for Outdoor Research in Outdoor USA Magazine, a trade publication that I picked up at the Winter 2011 Outdoor Retailers trade show.

Outdoor USA Magazine is tabloid sized and printed on matte paper. This ad for Outdoor Research, a 27-year-old outdoor gear company, is roughly 10.25” x 15.85. Down there in the bottom third of ad, beneath the fold, past the body copy Outdoor Research declares its solidarity for its nonprofit partner, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, whose logo is reproduced approximately .57” x .48”.

To put it another way, Outdoor Research’s ad is about 162 square inches. Of that space, Outdoor Research trumpets Leave No Trace …

Trade Show Cause Marketing

I spent a few hours at the Outdoor Retailers annual winter trade show on Friday, January 21, 2011 going from booth to booth and looking for notable cause marketing efforts.

Among them was a show-only effort from Columbia Sportswear, meant to promote a line of outerwear and boots called Omni-Heat Electric, along with other offerings from Columbia.

Three times a day on Thursday, Jan 20 and Friday, Jan 21, Columbia held a fashion show featuring Omni-Heat Electric and other offerings. When you Tweet out pictures from the fashion show with the hash tag orshowCA#, Columbia will make a $5 donation to the nonprofit Conservation Alliance.

The minimum donation will be $4,000 and the maximum will be $7,000.

I spoke to Jinn Brunk, a member of Columbia’s corporate responsibility team, and she said that they may follow up with all Tweeters with a message like, “we thought you’d like to know that we made a donation of (say) $6,755 to Conservation Alliance. Thanks for your help!”

The least communicated me…

Grassroots Cause Marketing from Volvo

Buy a virtual glass of lemonade from, sponsored by Volvo, and the money goes to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to support families who must travel for their child’s cancer treatments.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, is named for Alex Scott, who in the year 2000 at the age of 4 announced to her parents that pediatric cancer must be cured and to do her part she was going to sell lemonade from a stand. Alex herself suffered from neuroblastoma and died in 2004 at the tender age of 8. By then she had already raised $1 million for cancer research.

Now a 501(c)(3) charity, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, has generated $35 million for cancer research, $12 million of it from lemonade stands.

Volvo’s relationship with ALSF began in 2002 when Alex was nominated for the inaugural Volvo for Life Awards. She won it in 2003. And in 2004 Volvo dealers helped Alex meet her goal to raise $1 million for pediatric cancer research before the year end. Sadly, Alex died in August…

Cause Marketing to Raise Awareness

Up there in the masthead of the blog is Alden Keene’s definition of cause marketing: “Cause marketing is a relationship that bridges commerce and cause in ways that benefit both parties.”

There’s nothing in the definition about money changing hands, even if that’s how we typically think of cause marketing. Indeed, cause marketing is often configured so as to raise awareness. That’s the case in the campaign recently profiled in this space from Feeding America and featuring Laila Ali and Curtis Conway and that’s the case in this multi-faceted campaign from Becton, Dickenson and Company (BD), a $7.3 billion (sales) provider of medical instruments and supplies.

BD’s website says it basically has two philanthropic approaches; donations of cash and product, and “raising awareness for a healthier world.”

In 2009, BD gave $11 million, split evenly between in-kind product donations and cash donations. If I read the graphic correctly all the in-kind donations went to global humanitarian groups, wh…

Adding a MacGuffin to Your Cause Marketing Effort

Alfred Hitchcock, the legendary filmmaker, used to speak of a movies’ “MacGuffin” or plot device. “In crook stories it is always the necklace and in spy stories it is always the papers,” he said.

In short, a MacGuffin is a mechanical device that impels action. At left Humphrey Bogart is holding the MacGuffin that impelled action in John Huston’s classic movieThe Maltese Falcon.

For Hitchcock, the MacGuffin was often no more than a device, one that he often neglected after the action got going. But I don’t use the term MacGuffin in such a fleeting way. When I use the word I mean, what in your cause marketing campaign will make the target audience act?

At first blush you might say that the cause or perhaps the offer is the MacGuffin. In the aftermath of the Haiti Earthquake, cause marketing campaigns sprouted up spontaneously and they worked. The cause was the MacGuffin.

The same could probably be said of several breast cancer charities and one or two environmental charities; the cause by i…

Diluted Donations

The Bingham Canyon Mine in the southwest corner of the Salt Lake Valley in Utah where I live is said to be the deepest open-pit mine in the world. So deep you can see it from space. On the lip of the pit they have a visitor’s center along with spotting scopes to look into the void and at the mining activity. (The photo at left was taken from the International Space Station).

The mine, owned by Kennecott and its corporate parent Rio Tinto, charges a modest vehicle entrance fee that goes to the Kennecott Utah Copper Visitor’s Center Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private foundation which divvies it up the proceeds among local charities. There’s also a gift shop in the visitor’s center and proceeds from the sales of items there also benefits the Foundation.

The Foundation’s board, comprised of community members who serve without compensation, gets together annually to divvy up the proceeds among local charities which apply for grants. The year 2010 was a record year for the Foundation,…

My New Favorite Cause Marketing Campaign

Although I surely come off as a homme du monde and maybe even a bon vivant, I confess that I spent the first nine years of my life in a tiny desert hamlet in the American Southwest where I lived across a dirt road from a large cotton field. I lived so close to the field and so far from town that many’s the morning I was woken up by crop duster airplanes.

My family had been city-folk for three generations before me. Still, as a boy I envied the handsome blue corduroy jackets worn by the members of the Future Farmer’s of America (FFA).

I missed this campaign from Campbell’s in 2009 and 2010 benefiting the FFA. But I came across it while working on the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database. And though Campbell’s didn’t renew for 2011, it may be my favorite cause marketing campaign of the last few months.

Called Help Grow Your Soup, in 2010 the campaign restored five barns… chosen by popular vote by people inputting Campbell's Soup UPC codes… in Michigan, Indiana, Maryland and North Carol…

Ending a Cause Marketing Relationship

Normally, when it comes to cause marketing I would say that longer relationships are better for sponsor and charity. Think Rolling Stones and U2 not Cream or Soft Cell. That’s because cause marketing is a form of co-branding and like any branding endeavor it takes years to for brands to achieve high customer awareness. Frequently changing partners confuses your customers and stakeholders.

For instance, I guarantee you that even after more than 15 years or so of deep association, in a test of unaided recall few people would be able to identify that Subway Sandwiches and the American Heart Association are co-branded partners.

I’ve written before that lasting corporate-cause relationships are like marriages that require constant maintenance. Or like bank accounts whereto you must make frequent deposits to cover the inevitable withdrawals.

But there are times when it makes sense to end cause marketing relationships.

For causes it’s probably more so a dollars and cents issue than it is even fo…

Twenty Questions Before Engaging in a Cause Marketing Effort

Suppose when you get into the office tomorrow, the boss comes in and says, “I think we need to look seriously at cause marketing. Look into it will you?”

Getting the right answers depends on asking the right questions. So where do you start?

Let’s just stipulate that you’ll search the Internet. Maybe check the entries at or You’ll almost certainly come across the Cause Marketing Forum. If you go a little deeper you may find Cone, or other agencies that specialize in the practice. You may find IEG, which has a long history with cause marketing, but considers it to be a subset of sponsorship. Maybe you’ll go to and check the available titles. You’ll almost certainly find Business in the Community in England, which takes a very holistic approach to cause marketing and Business for Social Responsibility, which is basically its opposite number Stateside.

Scratch the surface a little more and you’ll certainly find criticisms of the practice; usually variatio…

Unconventional Metrics of Cause Marketing Power

The printed edition of Fortune Magazine runs a regular feature called ‘My Metric’ wherein business leaders identify informal but telling measures of current economic activity.

In the January 17, 2011 Michael Glimcher, CEO of Glimcher Realty Trust cited as his metric an increased number of black cars on the streets of New York City as a sign of the U.S. economy’s (still pending?) resurgence.

That got me thinking, what unconventional metrics evidence the power of certain cause marketing efforts?

One immediately leapt to mind, although only General Mills, which makes Yoplait yogurt in the U.S., can measure it.

The Yoplait lid at left... which I purchased in December 2010... can NOT be redeemed for a $0.10 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Instead it promotes Yoplait’s sponsorship of Komen’s Race for the Cure events, which are numerous.

But I’d bet you a six-pack of Yoplait Greek Honey Vanilla that people nonetheless still send in some number of the lids above in an attempt to redeem th…

Cause Marketing as a Means of Employee Engagement

Cause marketing is often directed at employees and other internally stakeholders. Cause marketing can help build employee morale and loyalty, improve employee productivity, skills and teamwork and produce a pipeline of future talent.

One well-designed cause marketing effort that focuses closely on employee engagement comes from the Luxottica Group, the Italian eyewear company whose brands in the United States include Ray-Ban, Oakley and Revo along with retail outlets LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut, and Pearle Vision. OneSight, founded by Luxottica in 1988, is a public 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that redistributes millions of eyeglasses a year in more than three dozen countries across the globe.

The World Health Organization estimates that 314 million people suffer from poor but correctable vision. Luxottica says it funds most of OneSight’s administrative costs such that 92 percent of public donations go to fund programs. Here’s a link to a list of OneSight’s extensive programs.

Luxottica of…

Adoption Cause Marketing at Wendy's

A visit to a Wendy’s in Mesa, Arizona early in January 2011 turned up this handbill for AASK-Arizona, an affiliate for the Wendy’s adoption program called Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in metropolitan Phoenix.

AASK stands for Aid to Adoption of Special Kids. The handbill was positioned on a counter near one of the doorways.

I like the front of the handbill. The four pictures of smiling Casey drew me in. But the copy on the back struck me as unpersuasive. See if you agree.

The first paragraph describes Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, an effort by Wendy’s to increase adoptions out of America’s foster care system.

The second paragraph describes that AASK as the affiliate of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in Maricopa County, basically the greater Phoenix region.

So far, so good. The third paragraph is where I think the copy begins to lose its way:
“Through valuable media partnerships, including Wednesday’s Child, AASK is able to touch the hearts of thousands of potential parents annually.”Wednesday’s Child is a weekl…

It's Not Transactional Cause Marketing, But It is a Cool Fundraiser

I define cause marketing as a "relationship that bridges cause and commerce in a way that benefits both parties."

By that definition the Cause Marketing blog isn’t about charity fundraisers per se. Still, I’ve come across a fundraiser in my home state… called Utah FastPass… that’s just so cool that I have to share it with you my faithful readers, even though it’s not precisely a cause marketing effort.

In 2006 the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Highway Patrol closed a remote section of state highway and then sold access to wealthy drivers to drive their cars on the road at speeds the Devil himself wouldn’t chance, all for charity. The gimmick was that the Highway Patrol would give each driver a ‘ticket’ and they would pay the ‘fine’ to charity.

Naturally the drivers had to have very good insurance and sign a ream of waivers.

That first year one driver drove the closed course in a classic Ferrari Enzo like the one at the left and missed a bump or a turn or a shift……

People’s Choice Awards Gives it Up for Special Olympics

When actress-singer Vanessa Williams mounted the stage at the People’s Choice Awards January 5, 2011 it was on behalf of Special Olympics, the official charitable partner of the 2011 awards show.

The main benefit of the partnership for Special Olympics is that the People's Choice Awards gave up some of their precious airtime to ask for donations for the cause.

According to press reports, at 10:51 PM (eastern) Ms. Williams asked viewers to use their cell phones to donate $10 to Special Olympics. See the video footage above. Donations were processed by

The ad at the left promoting the appearance came from Proctor & Gamble's annual FSI on behalf of Special Olympics, which dropped on December 26, 2010.

I didn’t see Ms. Williams' appearance. Aside from the presidential debates and occasional viewings of the show 'Nature' on PBS, we don’t watch television at Chez Jones. But this represents another high-profile use of using television to advertise text to…

Let's Do the First QR Coded Paper Icon Cause Marketing Campaign Together

This paper icon… which I purchased for $1 at Bashas’, an Arizona grocery chain… made it very clear to me that charities doing paper icon cause marketing campaigns are going to need to differentiate or risk being commoditized out of existence by the retailers themselves.

The full-color icon benefits a new orangutan enclosure at the Phoenix Zoo. The icon is 5½” x 8½” and was sitting on the checkout counter. I couldn’t see any hanging in the store in Mesa, Arizona where I bought it or any other kind of collateral material explaining the campaign. Nor did the clerk try to “sell” me the icon or amplify any aspect of the campaign. The back of the paper icon was blank.

But I was impressed that the icon featured the beneficiary, a cute little orangutan. Too many charities are still selling sneakers and balloons and shamrocks even though their beneficiaries are adorable little human children.

Bashas’, which has done paper icon campaigns for other charities, seems to have learned some lessons in s…

Matching Cause and Sponsor in Cause Marketing

Today we return to the subject of matching cause and sponsor and cause marketing.

Without resurrecting every post I’ve written on the topic there’s basically seven approaches for sponsors…
Pick a cause that’s a direct fit: for instance, a restaurant or a grocery store sponsoring a food bank. Pick a cause that’s an indirect but related fit: McDonald’s sponsorship of the Ronald McDonald House.Pick a cause that’s meaningful to company stakeholders: Many sponsors of the various breast cancer charities fit this criteria.Pick a cause that has tons of popular appeal: Target’s sponsorship of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is an example.Split the baby and pick multiple charities but with a single theme. JC Penney focuses much of its giving on after-school causes, for instance.
Pick multiple charities without a unifying theme. Pick a charity the CEO or executive staff likes.Pick a charity for no rational reason.Looking at this campaign from July 2009 benefiting Mother’s Against Drunk Drivin…

Democratized Cause Marketing With a Lower Price of Entry

American Express has its Member’s Project and Pepsi has Pepsi Refresh, both of which award millions of dollars in prizes and cost perhaps two to three times as much to activate, promote and administer. But can smaller sponsors do this voter-driven democratized cause marketing in a way that is both in reach and effective?

One sponsor that’s trying is Redwood Creek, a wine brand owned by Frei Bros Vineyards of Modesto, California, with its promotion called the Great Outdoors Project.

The Great Outdoors Project awards a top prize of $50,000 to a nonprofit organization “to use towards specific environmental projects that aim to preserve, protect and provide access to the great American outdoors.” $90,000 more is split between nine other finalists.

So figure that Redwood Creek is into this $140,000 in prizes and perhaps another $420,000, give or take to activate and administer the promotion. That’s perhaps $560,000 total. Not inexpensive, but certainly within reach for companies that do as li…