Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2011

Marketing to Kids, Circa 1988

The Lumina Foundation, the American Council on Education and the Ad Council want to persuade more middle and high schoolers to make proper preparation for college. And so to reach them they put an PSA in GamePro magazine.

Terrific idea, if this was still 1988.

The year 1988 was pre-World Wide Web and smartphone. Sonny Bono was mayor of Palm Springs. It was the year Aloha Flight 243 lost several yard of its upper fuselage while in flight. In 1988 the Red Army started to withdraw from Afghanistan. And boxer Lennox Lewis, fighting for Canada, beat American Riddick Bowe at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea in the Super Heavyweight division.

1988 was also the year GamePro itself debuted and it may have been the last time a PSA like this, which I found in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database, had any chance of actually reaching kids.

Look at the boxing glove visual, for instance. There are exactly 153 kids in the 12-18-year-old age range in the United States who have seen a real box…

Impious Cause Marketing?

I saw a recent post on Just Means critical of Kellogg’s new cause marketing campaign called ‘Share Your Breakfast’ and I wondered, should sinners or the impious be permitted to pray?

Should teachers wait until their students know the alphabet before allowing them to speak? Should I, as a man, wait until I’m emotionally available to my wife before I listen to something she’s telling me? Is Nobelist Al Gore the only person who can legitimately donate to Greenpeace or the Sierra Club? Or, while we're on the topic of charitable donations, could any company ever be morally upright enough to make donations to a good cause via cause marketing?

The post in question was written by staff writer Akhila Vijayaraghavan, whose beat at Just Means is corporate social responsibility.

She writes:
“Some of the products that Kellogg has been promoting as part of its campaign includes Frosted Flakes and Nutri-Grain bars. However both products have been criticized for the high levels of sugar that they con…

‘Seal’ Campaigns and Cause Marketing

‘Seal’ campaigns defy easy categorization in cause marketing. They’ve been around forever. Witness the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance which dates from 1930.

Strictly speaking seal campaigns are a kind of licensing deal. Generally they involve pre-set criteria and or testing.

(The even older Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval was begun by the eponymous magazine in 1900 and the Underwriter’s Laboratories first opened their doors in 1894. Both were founded as for-profit entities).

If your product or service meets the criteria and passes applicable tests you are eligible to apply to display the seal of approval/acceptance. Usually the license involves a fee, sometimes a hefty one.

And like sponsoring the Olympics, all paying the licensing fee does is give you the right to spend more money on activating the deal! If most cause marketing is a kind of partnership, seal campaigns are more like a business deal.

For the most part if you meet the criteria and pay your fee, wha…

More Instant-On Cause Marketing for Japan Relief

Horrifying natural disasters, especially when they happen to people that are geographical close and/or culturally similar… have great built in affinity, a necessary element to cause marketing.

The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan have already led to what I’ve termed “instant-on cause marketing.” What follows are two other examples of instant-on cause marketing efforts meant to benefit the people of Japan.

In New York City, NBC Universal, the New York State Restaurant Association, among others, are leading a cross-town effort to benefit Japan through the American Red Cross. The campaign ‘Dine Out for Japan Relief’ asks restaurateurs to donate 5 percent of each meal during from March 23-30 to the Red Cross.

At this writing the website listed more than 65 participating restaurants.

On the West Coast in San Rafael, California, eco e-tailer VivaTerra offered 10 percent of all online sales during a 24-hour period to the Red Cross for Japan relief. An email, seen at the left, gave advance …

The Importance of Affinity in Cause Marketing

Implicit in any successful cause marketing campaign is the idea of affinity. Absent affinity, no cause marketing campaign is likely to soar

Think about it, if children with cancer don’t affect you emotionally, intellectually or otherwise, then you’re not likely to support any cause marketing campaign on behalf of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

And it has to be the right kind of affinity. I may love American Idol and Randy Jackson, seen in the FSI (Free-Standing Insert) on the left. But if I don’t have a cat then his endorsement of 9Lives isn’t likely to convince me to buy a bag of dry cat food.

So consider the case of this mailer from the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database that mailed circa October 2004 from the cooperative marketing group for the Toyota Service Centers in my market. I get mailers like these about once a month. This one promoted a lube, oil and filter service featuring genuine Toyota parts.

In the red burst on the left side is the cause marketing offer. Buy this…

Terrific Paper Icon Cause Marketing from Whole Foods

We’ve all seen paper icons that sell for $1. A few sell for $5 and fewer still for $10. But how’s this for ambition from Whole Foods Market? The top listed price for their paper icon is $180.

Talk about ‘whole paycheck!’

Sorry that was a cheap (and irresistible) shot at Whole Foods which has turned out a very well-thought out and well-executed paper icon campaign. Probably the best one I’ve seen in the last five years.

The campaign benefits the microcredit effort of Whole Foods’ Whole Planet Foundation. The Foundation partners with microfinace partners in 29 countries in the developing world, with an emphasis on regions that supply product to Whole Foods. By design most of the microenterprise loans go to women.

The fit, therefore, is very clear. Microfinance when coupled with microenterprise, has a good success record at lifting people out of poverty worldwide even if it isn’t a panacea, and remains widely respected in America.

The icon uses both sides, which I always recommend. In the cop…

Instant-On Cause Marketing for Japan

The horrendous 2011 Tōhoku earthquake struck Japan at 2:46 pm local time on Friday, March 11, 2011. On Thursday, March 17, 2011, not even six days later when you consider that Japan is a day ahead of North America, I received the appeal to the left in my email box.

This is instant-on cause marketing, and I applaud it. We saw similar efforts after the Haiti Earthquake in January 2010.

I can imagine how challenging this was to put together so quickly. Infiniti had to figure out an amount they could afford and would be meaningful. The choice of the Red Cross was probably pretty easy. The Red Cross is almost the default choice in the case of natural disasters like this. But easy choice or not, arrangements had to be made with the Red Cross.

Then Infiniti had to figure out who to send it to. I’m on some kind of email newsletter list because I once test drove a G Convertible, but it probably also went to Infiniti employees, dealers, car owners, members of the press, etc.

The last piece of this …

Park and Read Cause Marketing

Outdoor advertising companies have an expression about signs that are so busy the message can’t be taken in one glance. They call such signs, ‘park and reads.’

The usual rule of thumb for billboard is that they have no more than 8-10 words and fewer than 4 lines of text. Total.

But of course many people either don’t know or think the rule doesn’t apply to them. You see such signs all the time, although the one below probably has a subject matter you’ve never before seen on a billboard.

The ad above, from the March 31, 2011 Fortune magazine, is a park and read from the fashion designer Geoffrey Beene. The ad features Ann and Nancy Wilson of the 70s and 80s rock group Heart along with two cancer researchers, Marion Knott, MD, PhD and Raymond DuBois, MD, PhD.

There’s no arguing with the intent of this PSA campaign or the sincerity of GBGB (Geoffrey Beene Gives Back) from Geoffrey Beene, LLC. All profits from operations fund a wide array of philanthropic endeavors. GBGB is basically Newman…

Implementing Your Cause Marketing

The cause marketing blog is, in large measure, an idea blog. It’s meant to help you, my faithful readers, to come up with ideas for better cause marketing. But ideas are easy. You gotta ‘ship’ as Seth Godin says, quoting Steve Jobs.

Godin talks about ‘shipping’ in his recent book Linchpin. In one sentence it means that you must finish what you start, get it out the door, deliver your product or service, implement. In Godin’s case, he ships when his books hit the stores. I ship every weekday when a new post goes up on the cause marketing blog. Failure to ship is the usual reason why Donald Trump fires someone every Sunday night on The Celebrity Apprentice.

Shipping is what Tom Hanks did at the end of his movie Castaway. Hanks' shipping in Castaway is lampooned in the video at the left.

How can you ‘ship’ your cause marketing more effectively?

There’s a lot of models out there, Godin’s included. The book Making Ideas Happen, from Scott Belsky has some ideas and tools on shipping.

For my…

Bridging the Gaps in Cause Marketing

Pictured at left is a circular for from the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database. The circular, circa 2007, features two cause-related marketing efforts; one for the New York City police officers and firefighters who performed so bravely during 9-11, and the other for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Ignore for the moment the weak and confusing “portion of the proceeds” language on the firefighter check and concentrate instead on what else is in play besides the transaction-based cause marketing.

Everyone that buys either of those checks is identifying themselves as someone who has so much affinity for the New York City firefighters and police officers of 9-11, or for breast cancer research that they’re willing to put a ‘bumper sticker’ on their checks saying as much!

Imagine the value to those two nonprofits to have the list of people who bought those checks. It would be the hottest kind of list.

While for-profits commonly approach non-profits for their lists, it…

Raise a Glass Cause Marketing

At the yet-to-open Shebeen Bar in Melbourne, Australia when you order a beer or wine from a developing country, a donation will be made to a cause in the drink’s country of origin.

So toast someone with a Vietnamese beer at Shebeen and perhaps a kid in Vietnam learns a marketable skill. Raise a glass of South African chardonnay and maybe a microfinance donation is made to help someone start a street cart business in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

The social benefit business is the brainstorm of 27-year-old Simon Griffiths, who came up with the idea while traveling through Africa. The idea is not about guilting people into Shebeen bar, Griffiths told the Melbourne daily newspaper, The Age. (The photo of Griffiths at left comes from The Age.)

“We are moving away from the Oxfam tin-rattling approach to retail to a space where we create high-quality products and services and make them non-profit.”

Griffiths is wonderfully ambitious. Using what some call ‘embedded giving’ social entrepreneurs li…

Advocacy Cause Marketing to Teens

This post is about teen sex (or abstinence therefrom), although this blogger is not talking about the sketchy MTV drama series Skins.

Instead this post is about an advocacy cause marketing campaign from The Candies Foundation, “a non-profit organization that works to shape the way youth in America think about teen pregnancy and parenthood.”

Candies, for whom the Foundation is named, is a teen fashion brand.

The Foundation is against teen pregnancy and advocates for both sexual abstinence and protected sex among teens, which is usually set as a dichotomy in the American culture. You can see how that plays out in this PSA from the Foundation featuring teen mom Bristol Palin, who campaigns for abstinence and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino who says he is all about protected sex.

The Foundation’s campaigns run in teen magazines and youth electronic media. The ad above, from the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database, ran in the May 31, 2010 issue of J14 magazine. That's Bristol Palin and so…

Business to Business Cause Marketing

Generally cause marketing is targeted to consumers. But there are examples of B2B (business to business) cause marketing, including the one at the left.

There’s a lot of moving parts in this promotion, so bear with me for a paragraph or two of explanation.

When you buy an ad that will appear in a special tabloid-sized insert in both of Salt Lake City’s daily newspapers, 10% of the ad price will go to purchase books for children in low-income homes. The insert drops on Sunday, March 27, 2011.

The insert will be about the “Utah Story Literacy Event,” which is a telethon/radiothon event to be held March 30, 2011 with a goal of raising $1 million.

The money raised from the event will go to the Road to Success program, which will use the funds to place children’s books in low-income homes.

Road to Success was started by the Robert H. and Katherine B. Garff Foundation. Robert Garff, a prominently local community leader, owns the Ken Garff Automotive Group, a collection of about two dozen car dea…

Using Cause Marketing to Preserve Retail Pricing Power

The Consumer Wars have been fought, and frankly, Consumers won. In the process, retailers ceded their pricing power and maybe their sustainability. Can cause marketing come to the rescue?

That question came after reading the unsigned editorial at the left in a recent issue of Outdoor USA Magazine, a trade publication of the outdoor retailers and manufacturers industry. The editorial is specifically about the dangers to outdoor retailers of using Groupon. But at a broader level for retailers it's really about preserving brand, margins, maybe even the business itself in this post-Consumer world.

Groupon really isn’t the problem so much as it is the symptom. After-all retailers have had deep-discount sales promotions in their arsenal for generations. Instead, Groupon is another sign that retailers don’t have many weapons left in that arsenal to preserve pricing power. Opines the magazine’s editors;

“At the end of the day, marketing channels like Groupon and Facebook Deals are really jus…

Scaling Up Your Cause Marketing

March Madness won’t start for another week or so, but as an adopted Canadian, I’m already thinking about who will win the Stanley Cup, probably some time in June.

The Stanley Cup is the most storied trophy in professional sport in North America, dating to 1893. Unlike other trophies it’s permanent. That is, a new trophy is not made for each championship. It’s also the only trophy that is engraved with the names of the players and management from each championship team.

How do they manage that without making the trophy too ginormous to hoist, even for the Great One as seen at the left?

Well the trophy itself stays the same size; about three-feet tall and 35 pounds. It features a cup at the top with graduated bands or rings below that. Beneath those are five larger bands of the same size. Each of those bands has space for 13 championships. As they fill, the band at the top is removed and displayed at Hockey Hall of Fame and a new blank band is added to the bottom. Using this method, the St…

Buy One, Give One, Get One Cause Marketing

The Luxury Collection Hotels and Resorts, a unit of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, is offering travelers the classic deal you can’t refuse benefiting UNICEF.

When you book and complete a 2, 3 or 4-day stay before March 30, 2011 at one of their luxe properties you’ll not only get one or two free night stays, but $1 will be donated to UNICEF in support of malaria prevention efforts in Africa and polio, TB and measles immunizations worldwide.

It’s a logical extension of Buy One, Give One (BOGO). Only this one could be called Buy One, Give One, Get One (BOGOGO).

The ad at the left is from November 2009. I found it in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database. But the promotion has been picked up again in 2011 and ends this month.

The donation amount…$1… is modest. But high end brands like the ones in the Luxury Collection face a branding and pricing challenge in offering a larger donation amount. A room with two double beds at The Phoenician in Phoenix... one of their 12 properties in the United…

Your Webmaster Needs to Know About Your Cause Marketing

In the vitamin and supplement business one all-purpose word you see often is ‘support.’

Here’s a few from the Vitamin World website:
“Helps Support Sugar Metabolism,” about a cinnamon supplement.“Supports Bone Health,” about a calcium supplement.“Nutritionally supports antioxidant health,” about a resveratrol supplement.Too bad Vitamin World’s webmaster couldn’t do a little more to more clearly demonstrate the company’s support of the nonprofit charity Vitamin Angels.

Vitamin Angels supports about 20 million children worldwide, usually with Vitamin A and multivitamin supplements. The Vitamin Angels website says that 1/3 of all childhood deaths worldwide are cause by malnutrition. Vitamin A deficiency in particular is a common cause of both childhood mortality and blindness. The lives of millions of children could be saved by easy to administer vitamin supplements.

Supplements are easy to make and deliver to children and mothers at key moments, which in a nutshell is what Vitamin Angels d…

The Art of Cause Marketing

Today I profile two cause marketing efforts that use art as a vehicle to fundraise on behalf of two different nonprofits.

The first, from the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database, is sponsored by The New Yorker magazine. When you buy the cover art from Jan. 25, 2010, an evocative piece called “The Resurrection of the Dead” by Frantz Zephirin, The New Yorkerwill donate profits from print sales to Partners in Health, a charity based in Boston serving health care needs in Haiti, Malawi, Peru, Rwanda and elsewhere.

The prints start at $125 and range up to $445. There's a lot of room in those price points for profit depending on whether or not The New Yorker and/or Zephirin takes a cut. Zephirin’s home was in Mariani, very near the epicenter of the devastating Jan 12, 2010 earthquake. It’s admirable how quickly The New Yorker put together this promotion.

The three characters in the doorway are guede, spirits who guard the space between life and death. In that way they’re similar to the Ja…

Let's Make Cause Marketing Donations Tax Deductible

If you go to a charity gala in the United States the price of the tickets is tax deductible after the cost of the meal and other benefits is subtracted. If you donate used household items or a used car to a 501(c)(3), you get a tax receipt from the charity equal to the fair market value of the donation. Donations of bonds or stock or art or gold or real property are all likewise tax deductible.

But currently cause marketing donations are not tax deductible.

The paper icon at the left benefiting my state's Special Olympics chapter from a local grocery chain made my wonder… again… why Americans can’t get a tax deduction for charitable donations generated through cause marketing efforts?

When you buy the paper icon… available in $1, $3 and $5 versions… the clerk tears off the bottom portion, scans it, and hands it back to you to sign. After you’ve done so, you keep the top portion and bottom half gets displayed in the store, a chain called Harmons.

It would be a simple matter for the bac…

Lessons from 4 Big, Successful Single-Element Cause Marketing Campaigns

There are a handful of big ‘single-element' cause marketing campaigns that have been around for decades, and in their longevity they hold lessons for cause marketers everywhere. Today I'll review four of the very best and discuss what we can learn from them.

First some caveats.

I'm going to list four campaigns not because there are only four, but because any more than that would make this post unwieldy. Three-fourths of them are North American because frankly, I'm most familiar with them. The fourth... Red Nose Day... is from the UK. That's some of their publicity material on the left

If you have examples from somewhere else that should be on this list, by all means leave a comment or email me at aldenkeene @ gmail dot com. I'd love to feature campaigns from other places.

Here's how I determined my list. I looked at large-scale campaigns that have been around for at least 10 years, have broad appeal and have raised at least $50 million over their term.

I elimina…

'Where's the Beef?' Cause Marketing

If you’re a NASCAR fan imagine racing against other skilled fans in full pro-race conditions at Daytona. Or imagine a little 11 on 11 action against other amateurs playing “the beautiful game” in between periods at the finals of the World Cup.

Nature Valley Granola Bars sponsors something very like that for amateur golfers in the United States called the Nature Valley Amateur. Meet the requirements, sign up, pay your fee (it’s never more than a couple hundred dollars) and you get to play against other amateur golfers on TPC courses across the country. The ad at the left is from Golf Digest in 2009, but the series is planned again for 2011.

At the end of the Nature Valley Amateur series, a championship is held at the famed TPC Sawgrass in Florida, headquarters of the PGA! TPC means Tournament Players Club, a chain of golf clubs operated by the PGA and optimized for professional tournaments.

Pretty cool, right? If you’re a competitive amateur golfer what a thrill it would be “step inside t…

Cause Marketing to Build Customer Loyalty

Suppose you face a fiercely competitive consumer-facing marketplace that was once a served by a regulated monopoly. How would you compete?

In the deregulated Georgia natural gas market, one company is using cause marketing.

In 1997 the Georgia Public Service Commission deregulated the natural gas market. The former monopoly, Atlanta Gas Light Company now provides only the pipes. The price of gas is no longer determined by regulators but by the market. The State has certified 11 natural gas marketers to sell to and service the market.

Not surprisingly those 11 compete on price, rebates, add-ons, promotions, and customer service. That’s because the gas is exactly the same no matter who markets it. And the delivery of the gas is still handled by Atlanta Gas Light Company, no matter who markets it.

My many astute readers are probably asking where the money comes from for the marketers to be so aggressive. The answer is that there’s a monthly access fee of about $45 apart from the cost of gas.

Big Cause Marketing From a Small Business

Years ago Junior Achievement had one of the most cleared-eyed policy manuals on cause marketing I’ve ever come across. It was insightful, strictly ethical, thorough, and filled with good ideas. And you’re going to have to take my word on all that because I can’t find it in my files or on the Junior Achievement website. If anybody has a copy, I’d love to see it again.

But I wonder what that Junior Achievement policy manual would have said about this modest campaign from an AlphaGraphics store in Salt Lake City?

In celebration of the store’s founding and the owner’s birthday, they’re hosting a BBQ benefiting Junior Achievement next Wednesday. Proceeds from the sale of the meal benefit the nonprofit charity whose three-part mission is youth development, education development, and economic development.

The programs and materials at Junior Achievement (JA) are strong. It calls on more than 375,000 volunteers worldwide who serve tens of millions of kids. It has a clean operating record, a long…