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Showing posts from April, 2011

Cause Marketing Your Wedding Like the Royal Couple

Prince William and his espoused, Catherine Middleton, will wed today at Westminster Abbey in London. It’s a joyous time for the young couple that has inspired lovers and romantics across the globe, along with the usual amount of commerce and, even better, some charity.

You can, for instance, get a knock-off of Kate’s engagement ring, reproductions of the pretty frocks that she wears so well, even a collectible version of the carriage that will take them past St. James’s Park, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and finally to Buckingham Palace for the wedding reception. Plus about a cajillion other really cheesy keepsakes and mementos.

You, too, can also use your wedding to do what the Royal Couple is doing and give to a number of causes. Here’s how the official Royal Wedding website puts it:
“Having been touched by the goodwill shown to them since their engagement, they have asked that anyone wishing to send them a wedding gift consider doing so in the form of a donation to the fund.”�…

Cause Marketing from El Presidente

CITGO, the oil refiner and gasoline marketer faces a number of brand challenges. Is there a place here for cause marketing?

The average gas price in the United States is currently $3.88 a gallon, according to a report in yesterday’s USA Today, with at least half a dozen states reporting $4 a gallon gas.

Unlike our compatriots in Europe, Americans are entirely unaccustomed to high gasoline prices. It’s no exaggeration to say that President Obama’s chances of reelection in 2012 hinge, in part, on how high fuel prices stay. Pundits suggest that if gas prices nationwide in November 2011 are above $4, President Obama’s chances aren’t good.

CITGO has been owned in its entirety since 1990 by Petroleos de Venezuela, the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company. CITGO, therefore, is effectively controlled by Hugo Chavez, the autocratic president of Venezuela who has no love for the United States, and who has expressed his feelings about the USA frequently and venomously.

Moreover, CITGO has been p…

Good Cause Marketing Idea, Wrong Time of Year

Project Potential from Kraft's ready-to-eat meal brand Lunchables sounds like a wondrous effort. In the ad at the left from the May 2010 Glamour magazine, a little girl is said to be leaping from princesshood to… maybe… the presidency thanks to Project Potential.

And what is Project Potential? The ad promises to send 50 entire classrooms on fieldtrips.

I suppose that a class fieldtrip could help someone fulfill their potential.

Peter Parker got bit by a radioactive spider on a class fieldtrip and became Spiderman after all!

Says the website: “It's not a reach when their potential is so great. That's why we're dedicated to providing kids with as many academic learning opportunities as possible—to help them reach their full potential! Every time you buy LUNCHABLES Lunch Combinations, you're supporting our efforts to help kids realize just how far they can go in life.”

Wow! No wonder I’m such a schlub. I didn’t go on enough fieldtrips as a schoolchild.

Listen, I’m having so…

Outré Cause Marketing?

Bear Grylls, the eat-anything host of the Discovery Channel’s hit show Man vs. Wild (called Born Survivor in the U.K.), recently endorsed a compact knife for Boy Scouts, sold by American knife maker Gerber. A special sale of the knife at the SHOT Show (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) in January 2011 in Las Vegas generated $22,000 for the Cascade Pacific Council in Northwest Oregon, where Gerber is headquartered.

I saw the item in Outdoor USA Magazine... seen in the upper right hand column... a trade publication for the outdoor retailing industry, and was just a little surprised. Not by Bear Grylls endorsing a product; the adventurer has been pitching stuff in the U.K for years. I’m not surprised by the Boy Scout connection; he’s the Chief Scout of The Scout Association in the U.K., the youngest person to ever hold that position.

What surprised me was that Gerber did a cause marketing campaign for the Boy Scouts, which has been rather outré for more than a decade now. While 110 million A…

Easter Cause Marketing

Let’s try a cause marketing thought experiment.

Suppose you’re a dominant retail player in a growing $30 billion segment. Suppose your founder and CEO was ranked number 147 on the 2011 Forbes list of richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of some $2.5 billion. Suppose you had 435 outlets in 35 heartland states. Suppose you have your own in-house ad agency and a history of advertising both weekly specials along with image campaigns that you run on certain holidays.

Now suppose your company is avowedly Christian and everybody knows it.

Should you do Christian-themed cause-related marketing? If yes, who would your partners be?

This thought was sparked by the ad above placed on Easter Sunday in newspapers all over its service area by Hobby Lobby, the privately-held retailer founded and owned by David Green, age 69.

Since confession is good for the soul, let me confess that I’ve never seen cause marketing in my local Hobby Lobby store.

But the ad… which hearkens back a time 35 years ago …

Just What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

What do people mean these days when they speak of corporate social responsibility?

Does it mean extracting sea turtles out of fishing nets or not eating monoculture salmon? Does it mean not out-sourcing jobs to cheaper foreign lands even if it raises the standard of living in those places? What if the outsourced jobs go to foreign union members? A friend maintains that his H-1 Hummer, which he expects to drive for 20 years, has less negative effect on the environment than a shiny new Nissan Leaf, which will last only until its batteries die. Is he right? Is it more socially responsible for a company to donate to an AIDS orphan cause in Africa than to a ballet company in Africa? What if the ballet company in Africa employs AIDS victims or does a benefit for AIDS victims?

Some of these questions are ethical questions and most of us aren't ethicists. So how are we supposed to navigate the thicket of sometimes competing and oftentimes perplexing conundrums framed as issues of corporate …

Volunteer. It’s Good for Your Heart!

A special issue of U.S. News & World Report magazine, in November 2010, tells the story of Brooke Ellison, who was left a quadriplegic at age 11 after being stuck by a car. She went on to be the first quadriplegic graduate of Harvard and is now working on her PhD in sociology at Stony Brook University.

(A movie about her life was directed by Christopher Reeve, his last project. You can watch the movie's trailer at the left.)

She’s not bitter in part because she makes a habit of extending herself to others.

Volunteers like Brooke garner physical and emotional rewards. Studies show that no matter what their health is when they start, volunteers have less stress, less depression, and longer lives.

“Helping is an independent, unique predictor of reduced risk of mortality,” says Stephanie Brown of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Brown studied 400 elderly couples over a 5-year period and found volunteers were half as likely to die as nonvolunteers, even …

Cause Marketing Earth Day at Lowe's

When I saw this circular in yesterday’s mailbox from Lowe’s I was puzzled. It looks like cause marketing effort themed to Earth Day, but there was no further explanation anywhere in the circular.

My first reaction was, “please, Lowe's, don’t do this on your own. You won’t get it right." A million tree giveaway in time for Earth Day oughta be done in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation or with the charity American Forests.

So I Googled ‘Lowe’s Million Tree Giveaway’ and low and behold Lowe’s IS partnered with American Forests. The press release went out Monday and it’s an admirable campaign.

The million trees are indeed free from Lowe’s and optimized for your growing zone. You can point your smartphone at a 2D barcode on each tree bag to get tree facts, how to plant the sapling, how to care for it, and the like. The press release also says you can also register the sapling at

Why would you want to register your tree?

The press release says that registering…

Earth Day has a Messaging Problem

Friday, April 22 is the 41st Earth Day in the United States, a day that was originally conceived as a kind of environmental ‘teach-in.’

But I think it’s fair to say that most Americans understood those first few Earth Days not as a ‘teach-in’ but as a reminder to clean up litter, as the poster at the left from the great cartoonist Walt Kelly underscores.

America made great strides against litter. After that it made great strides against air pollution, and water pollution. The country still has litter and air and water pollution. But air pollution in particular is now better than it was in, say, December 1970, when the Environmental Protection Agency was founded.

National carbon monoxide emissions are not quite a third of what they were in 1970. Ammonia emissions are lower now than then, so are nitrogen oxides, particulates, sulfur dioxides, and volatile organic compounds.

Both surface water and groundwater are cleaner than they were in 1970 thanks to the Clean Water Acts and the Safe Drin…

Activating Your Cause Marketing Campaign

Activation in sponsorship, and by extension cause marketing, means the stuff you do to promote the sponsorship.

Activation is an exceedingly broad idea. It could mean everything from jumping out of airplane with a banner attached to your feet, to advertising or earned media on radio and TV, to email, to social media like Facebook, to signage and out of home advertising.

(The old sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, which was about a radio station, once activated a promotion by dropping live turkeys from a helicopter at Thanksgiving. The results were comically tragic. Watch the classic episode from 1978 here.)

At left is an activation of a cause campaign in front of a local Sizzler restaurant, at the intersection of two busy streets. The campaign itself… called Cops for Kids… is a tried and true fundraiser; cops from three local police departments will serve you and bus your tables during your visit to one of three local Sizzler restaurants on April 19, 2011.

The money from tips will go to the Child…

Cause Marketing Customer Satisfaction Surveys

The other day I bought a paper icon at a chain drugstore. The icon has a bar code and the clerk scanned it and handed me a receipt as we finished the transaction. At the bottom of the receipt was an 800-number keyed to a customer satisfaction survey. Dial the number, answer some questions and I’m entered into a drawing for $10,000.

I don’t know what their response rate is, but the $10,000 amount suggests that it’s pretty low. Taco Bell’s survey gives out $1,000 per week. The satisfaction survey at a regional seafood restaurant gives me a code that garners a free dessert when I complete their survey. Finish Home Depot’s survey and you’re entered to win a $5,000 gift card good at the retailer.

As I left the store I thought, ‘they know I just bought a paper icon. Instead of offering me and other people who buy the icon the chance to win $10,000, why wouldn’t they offer to donate $2 (or more!) to the cause in question whenever someone completes the survey?’

Why haven’t I ever seen this kind …

Back to Back Cause Marketing With Bond, James Bond

The May 2011 issue of Conde Naste Traveler magazine has the rather unusual distinction of having two cause marketing efforts advertised literally back to back, both of which feature actors who have played James Bond.

The first ad, from the luxury-goods manufacturer and style-setter Louis Vuitton, has been around for a few years and features the best Bond, Sean Connery. The benefiting cause is The Climate Project, founded by Nobel Laureate Al Gore.

In the second ad current Bond Daniel Craig pitches Omega, the Swiss watchmaker. The Omega ad calls attention to the cause Orbis International, which flies a hospital plane into the developing world to perform essential eye surgeries where it lands.

Both ads are short on the specifics of the cause marketing they’ve engaged in. But that’s par for the course when luxury goods utilize cause marketing. Instead the most prominent elements of both ads are their respective Bonds, their exclusive brands, and their tie to the causes.

Oh, and the Vuitton a…

Cause Marketing You Can Sew Believe In

Cecily Eastwood of Oxfordshire, England was teaching school in Kitwe, Zambia when, just a few months into her gap year, the 19-year-old was tragically killed in a road accident.

In her memory, her parents established Cecily’s Fund, a registered charity which works to support the education of children orphaned by AIDS in and around Kitwe.

In support of the nonprofit called American Friends of Cecily’s Fund, the February 2010 issue of the magazine Sew News invited readers to sew and embroider grocery-store style totes according to a pattern provided online, and then send them to the charity’s US operations to be sold as a fundraiser. (Sew News does a charitable campaign like this yearly. In 2011 they're asking readers to sew lap quilts to benefit the Alzheimer's Association.)

I can imagine buying a handmade tote like this for my wife or daughters.

The goal was to create 1,000 totes. I couldn’t find any word on whether or not they hit their mark.

My heart loves this simple grassroots …

Viva Cause Marketing!

Blogger’s note: It is with great pleasure that I bring you today’s post from guest blogger Jose Sanchez from Mexico City. Jose has a half-dozen years experience in cause marketing in North America’s second largest country. With this post, Jose gives us an update of where cause marketing has been in Mexico and what it’s future might be. Jose's Twitter handle is: @josemsanchez80.

If you're a cause marketing blog reader from a country other then the USA and would like to pen a guest post about cause marketing in your country like Jose has, please contact me: aldenkeene at gmail dot com.

A Glimpse at Cause Marketing in Mexico

It's 7 pm in Mexico City. You turn on the TV and hear a cacophony of social marketing and cause marketing messages.
“Hello! I’m brand X and if you buy this magical product, you will help the…”,
“This product is the work of the X community in Chiapas...”,
“Today is the international day of.... and so, today the 20% of your ticket will be donated to...”,

Cause Marketing Last Year's Prom Dress

Every year tens of thousands of teens go to the prom and when it’s done the boys take their tuxes back to the rental shop and the girls tuck their prom dresses into the back of their closets.

A number of grassroots organizations have sprung up to get prom, quinceañera and other special occasion dresses out of the closets and on to the backs of girls who might not otherwise be able to afford a fancy dress for their special night. Hearst, the publisher of Seventeenmagazine, has a website called, to serve as a kind of national information clearinghouse for girls looking to donate or receive donations of special occasion dresses.

As far as causes go, passing on prom dresses to girls who can’t afford them isn’t exactly curing cancer or feeding the hungry. But it is a wonderfully romantic idea. And I don’t mean romantic in the sense of horny teens in the back seat of a limo. I mean it in the sense of idealism.

It’s exactly the kind of idea that might really catch hold in one …

The Importance of the Picture in Cause Marketing

Early in my career a grizzled old veteran of marketing and communications for nonprofits said in a meeting “its all comes down to the T-shirts.”

He meant that when it came to marketing and communications campaigns the biggest battles were often over the smallest things, like the T-shirt. Because when it comes to marketing and communications while almost nobody knows anything of the marcom concepts of ‘return of customer investment’ or, ‘share of requirement’ everybody from the CEO to the janitor understands T-shirts.

I’m now a grizzled old veteran and I beg to differ. Everybody seems to want input on T-shirts, that’s true enough. But it’s not all about the T-shirt.

No, in cause marketing one of the details you should obsess over is the picture… or pictures… that illustrates the cause. Among other talents, these days an effective cause marketer better be a good photo editor.

The classic example is Special Olympics. As soon as you see the kids racing in a pool, getting a medal, or reaching …

Cause Marketing That Doesn’t Quite Come Together

'Girlfriends for Folate' from the March of Dimes aims to encourage women of reproductive age to take a daily supplement of 400mcg of folic acid so as to prevent certain kinds of birth defects in any children they might bear, and to make donations to the cause and/or participate in its annual walk.

The campaign is sponsored by Bayer and features a celebrity component, a sweepstakes element, and is tied directly to the March of Dimes' March for Babies, which takes place the weekend of April 30, 2011.

So far so good. The problem is that everything doesn’t quite come together.

The ad, from May 2011 issue of Luckymagazine, mentions a celebrity, but not the name, which is a waste., a Facebook page, lists the celebrity as Vanessa Minnillo, the TV personality who is currently engaged to singer Nick Lachey.

Meanwhile, the ad in Lucky asks you to donate to the cause. But while you could sign up for the walk on the Facebook page, so far as I could tell there wasn…

Should Cause Marketing Campaigns Run Year-Round?

If you’re the kind of person who wishes that every day could be like the first day of spring or that Christmas music would play all year long then has Lee, the apparel maker, got a cause marketing campaign for you.

The ad at the left was in the April 2011 issue of women’s magazine Redbook. The next Lee National Denim Day is Friday, October 7, 2011, a full six months from tomorrow. Lee runs these ads…heck, it runs this very ad… about six months out of the year in women's and other magazines.

Lee National Denim Day is a fine and well-promoted cause marketing campaign that dates to 1996. In the years since the campaign has generated more than $83 million for breast cancer research. You could hardly do better than to learn the lessons this smart campaign can teach.

But to repeat the question in the headline, is it smart to plug a one-day effort year round?

There’s actually not many campaigns that run 12 months a year, with Campbell’s Labels for Education, General Mills’ Boxtops for Educat…

The Ten Worst Cause Marketing Campaigns of 2010

My post from yesterday, April 4, 2011 chronicled my top 10 list of the best cause marketing of 2010.

Today’s post is my list of the 10 worst cause marketing campaigns of 2010 that I posted on during the year.

Cause marketing campaigns land on the worst list because they lack transparency, they use bad judgment, are dishonest, overly-complicated, obtuse, or there’s just something weaselly about them. Just as my favorite campaign in yesterday's post was at the bottom, my my least favorite effort is at the bottom of this page.

1) I certainly thought there was something weaselly about a 2009 campaign from Clorox, which originally dropped in Parenting magazine in December 2009. The ad was ostensibly about saving trees. The art in the ad depicted a Christmas tree. But Clorox wasn’t saving Christmas trees. It mentioned tree-planting and a charity called the California Oak Foundation. But California Oak Foundation wasn’t a tree-planting group. Instead, I wrote, “This ad is all legerdemain” t…

The Sweet Spot of Cause Marketing

The graphic at left is a Venn diagram that describes cause marketing relationships between the usual three stakeholders; cause, company/brand and the consumer.

Keep in mind that most cause marketing faces the consumer.

While cause marketing can work when only two of the three circles intersect, there's a sweet spot when all three intersect. In such instances the cause marketing becomes 'painless.'

We use the diagram to find the sweet spot of cause marketing for our clients at Alden Keene.

There are several ways to place brands (cause or corporate) in the Venn diagram. You can just survey internal audiences at either the cause or the company/brand. That's the least expensive and also the least effective.

You can also use certain focus groups/ qualitative efforts like sorts and the like and get close. But the best results come using a proprietary 48-question qualitative survey. Naturally, that's also the most expensive option.

Finally, a note of explanation about the '…

The Best Cause Marketing of 2010

The year 2010 was a memorable year for cause marketing. What follows are, in my judgment, the 10 best cause marketing campaigns of the year.

Please know that this list is hardly exhaustive. Thousands of cause marketing efforts take place each year. In 2010 I posted nearly 190 times and reviewed or highlighted more than 200 different cause marketing efforts. I probably Tweeted out that many more cause marketing campaigns on my Twitter account (@paulrjones) that I didn’t post on. Moreover, to add an extra twist, I frequently post on efforts found in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database, and are therefore from years other than 2010.

I’ve listed the top ten in no special order, although I will say that I think the Subaru effort profiled at the bottom of this post is the best of the best. The numbers are just for ease of reference.

During 2010 I also profiled an effort from HUGO Element/HUGO Man fragrances. It’s a buy one give one (BOGO) campaign and notable for the way it connects donors…