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 the site, however, is to encourage global ad/marketing and PR agencies to convert 5% of the global ad spend to support the global good.

That's a goal I can get behind.

You may hear in Haberman’s challenge an echo of 1% for the Planet, founded in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of the company Patagonia, and Craig Matthews, owner of the firm Blue Ribbon Flies. The difference is that 1% for the Planet is an actual nonprofit charity that has ‘initiated,’ in their words, more than $50 million in environmental giving from corporations that bear the 1% for the Planet seal. All told more than 1400 companies in 38 countries have signed up and donated to more than 2,000 environment groups worldwide. And the premise of 1% is so straightforward that it takes a staff of just seven to administer it.

Haberman isn’t likely to start a “5% for Global Good” type nonprofit any time soon. Instead they’re taking advantage of the promotional hubbub that always accompanies Super Bowl ads to draw attention to what the advertising industry could do and be. As day follows night, after the Super Bowl airs there will be a raft of local and national TV shows and publications that will convene a panel of advertising executives to dissect the ads they saw. No doubt Haberman will issue a release after the Super Bowl to say how various ads did according to Add or Delete.

If Haberman wants this promotion to become a movement it will have to not only make its own 5% pledge, it will need to convince other agencies to do the same. And that’s no mean feat. Target, also headquartered in Minneapolis, has been openly giving 5% of income to nonprofits for decades. But not many of Target's competitors have matched the company's giving efforts.

Patagonia’s Chouinard says that participation in 1% for the Planet has yet to meet his expectations. “I would have thought that 1% for the Planet would be bigger by now,” Chouinard told Mountain Sports + Living magazine. It’s a disappointment that we haven’t attracted larger companies. Patagonia is still the largest member. There are so few companies giving back, even outdoor companies.”

I admire 1% for the Planet and I like Haberman’s effort. But good ideas don’t sell themselves. If Haberman really wants 5% to take off, it’s going to have to go to its peers and sell them on it.

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