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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 with approximately 2.7 square inches, or a little more than 1.6% of the space in the ad.

But is ad space any kind of measure of a sponsor’s commitment to a cause? After all, Outdoor Research has been a sponsor of Leave No Trace for more than 10 years and is currently listed as one of LNT’s ‘Special Project Partners.’

As a matter of fact logo size in an ad is a good, if imperfect, gauge of the depth of Outdoor Research’s dedication to the cause. The Leave No Trace Outdoor Research deal probably got done by vice presidents or above. But the terms of the deal are implemented by directors and below.

In other words, if the relationship hasn’t really penetrated Outdoor Research’s culture, then the directors are left to execute the terms of the agreement as they see fit. Sans any kind of specific direction or any particular passion for the cause, the directors do what makes sense to them.

In this ad, Outdoor Research left almost no trace of its sponsorship of the Center for Outdoor Ethics.

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