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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 was probably the actual communication. Thank heavens Infiniti didn't use an actual photo of the devastation left by the earthquake or the tsunami. I’m not opposed to using pictures to depict need, but in this case, that would have been in poor taste.

I’m sorry Infiniti didn’t spend a little more time on the wording of this appeal because it’s potentially confusing.

It says that Infiniti has made pledge to the Red Cross of $1 million. So far so good. Then the copy says:
“We made an immediate cash donation of $500,000 to the American Red Cross. And we’re asking employees, owners, fans and friends to join us. When you give through this email, we will match your donation, dollar for dollar, for the first $500,000 in contributions.”
I’m almost always in favor of matching donations, but the wording makes me wonder whether Infiniti is giving $1 million (as per the pledge) or (potentially) $1.5 million. Or did Infiniti tell the Red Cross that it would give $1 million no matter what individual donors give?

Aside from parsing out the semantics of the offer, I’m glad Infiniti put this campaign together so quickly and I hope it generates a substantial donation.

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