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 with the cause. It would be on this list too, except that I had a hand in the campaign, and it would be immodest to include it.

This list is necessarily my own and peculiar to me and my thinking. My only criteria was that the effort somehow impressed me.

All that said, here is my list of the top ten cause marketing efforts of 2010:

1). Zynga, creator of the virtual worlds and games including Farmville, Fishville, Zynga Poker, and Mafia Wars, is back in the news for its efforts on behalf of earthquake relief in Japan. But in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti when you bought virtual items from Zynga for use in those games, a donation was made to the U.N’s World Food Programme. The donations for Haiti from the Zygna community exceeded $1.5 million.

2). When you bought a Samsung Reclaim phone from Sprint with a plan, the mobile carrier would make a $2 donation to the Nature Conservancy. To green up the campaign, the phone itself was made from 80 percent recyclable materials, the packaging was fully recyclable and the phone’s casing was partially made from bio-plastics. Sprint reported that the maximum donation of $500,000 was reached. Given the amount of cellular phones that end up in the waste-stream each year I found this campaign to be more of a start than a finish. But I thought it was a terrific start.

3). One of the Grand Prix awards winners at Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in 2010 was for a Nike effort on behalf of Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG Foundation. One award winner was ‘Chalkbot’ a machine that laid down inspirational messages on road surfaces of the actual Tour de France course in 2009 in Livestrong’s signature yellow. The messages came from people in the United States and France who had texted them to the Livestrong website. During the month-long Tour de France, the chalkbot laid down more than 36,000 messages. The images were GPS-tagged and photographed to enable social media sharing through Facebook, Twitter and others.

4). In the summer of 2010 the Mars’ brand Snickers candy bars donated the cost of 2.5 million meals to Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger-relief charity. On the inside of the wrapper was a code. Text the code … or enter it at… and Snickers will donate the cost of one meal to Feeding America, up to one million additional meals. I had praise for the way they structured the donation. “By guaranteeing 2.5 million meals, the risk of a poor response to the offer is mitigated for Feeding America. Likewise the risk that the promotion could take off leaving Snickers on the hook for a much bigger donation is also allayed,” I wrote.

5). I also liked the way Brotherton Cadillac in Metro Seattle, structured their campaign. Brotherton highlighted five local charities and invited you to make a donation to them through the Brotherton website. There was also a social media element allowing you to Tweet your support for one of the five charities. When donations to one of the charities reached $140,000, the campaign ended and a sweepstakes kicked in. All Tweets became an official entry for a 2010 Cadillac CTS.

6). There was also a sweepstakes component in Chipotle’s Halloween promotion on behalf Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution. The campaign invited people to come into a Chipotle dressed as an item of junk food, hand them $2 and you’d get one of their entrée items. The $2, up to $1 million, went to Jaime Oliver’s cause. Take a picture of the costume with Chipotle also depicted in the photo, and you could win a grand prize of $2,500. There were also smaller prizes for runners up.

7). We’ve all heard by now that if Facebook were a country it would the third largest in population behind only China and India. Facebook is well-suited for cause marketing and I found that Marriott’s TownePlace Suites effort on behalf of the American Red Cross made good use of the social media platform. When you made a ‘virtual bed’ at TownePlace’s Facebook page, Marriott made a $2 donation to the Red Cross. The Red Cross used the money for comfort kits.

8). Coke’s Smile-izer effort also made inventive use of social media. When you navigated over to and recorded a laugh for 20 seconds, the company would make a $1 donation to the National Park Foundation, up to $50,000. Your laugh, meanwhile, could be transmitted via all the usual social media outlets and it ‘floated’ around on the website like a Coke bubble. Wild! I didn’t get the connection to the venerable National Park Foundation, but the campaign itself was super-cool.

9). Buy One Give One (BOGO) campaigns continued to catch my eye in 2010 and WeWood’s campaign was my favorite. WeWood sells watches whose cases are made from wood. When you purchased a WeWood watch, the charity American Forests would plant a tree. Tree planting is super cheap, so I might have gigged WeWood for its parsimony; WeWood watches started at $119, after all. Instead, because the watches are made with wood reclaimed from the floor manufacturing process I had nothing but praise for this BOGO.

10). My favorite campaign in 2010 was Subaru’s Share the Love illustrated above. The end-of-year campaign, which Subaru started in 2008, is simplicity itself. Buy or lease a new Subaru before the deadline and Subaru would donate $250 up to $5 million total to the ASPCA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and the Ocean Conservancy. The owner/leaser determines which charity gets the money. Subaru even allows new owners to split the money between the charities in percentages. Subaru also gets kudos on its website for pointing people to ways they can help the five charities in addition to buying or leasing a new Subaru. Tim Mahoney, chief marketing officer of Subaru, told the 2009 Chicago Auto Show that the campaign actually saved Subaru money while generating higher sales. “We funded this out of our incentive budget,” Mahoney said. “Our incentive costs actually went down in December (2008), year over year. So it was a way of taking the resources we have and spreading them to organizations that could use it. And at the end of the day we raised a lot of money. A lot of money. Which makes me very happy and proud to be associated with it.”

Tomorrow: The worst cause marketing of 2010.

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