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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 at this ad and have any problem seeing and understanding that Pure Protein also proudly sponsors the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

I found the ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database. It ran in Fitness Magazine in March 2009.

Like the Outdoor Research ad, there’s an attractive person representing the target market. Both have a product shot and the usual other elements of print advertising. But Pure Protein reproduces the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to about ¾” square in an ad that is about 10½” x 7¾”, or about 81.3 square inches.

Pure Protein’s ad is almost exactly half the size of Outdoor Research’s ad, but they reproduce the cause’s logo half again as big as Outdoor Research did in its ad.

I know of no formula that tells you how big an ancillary logo ought to be in an print ad. But like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about another topic, “I know it when I see it.” Put simply, and maybe vaguely, the nonprofit's logos in such ads has to be big enough.

Pure Protein's use of the National MS logo is big enough, while Outdoor Research's use of the Leave No Trace logo was not.


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