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.
How times have changed. What was once considered as corporate responsibility or a way to reduce taxes is now seen as a strategic way for brands to build trust and loyalty with customers.

What’s accounts for the change? Is it good corporate citizenship? A desire to sell more using a great background story? To polish a brand identity? Or is it really about genuine caring about the future of the buyers and the communities where they live?

These are great questions for the distinctive Mexican market. So how is Cause Marketing changing things in this diverse country of 112 million people and 681,231 companies/brands?

It’s hard to be definitive. Here’s why:

After research and years spent in social and commercial markets, especially in consumer goods I can surely say that Cause Marketing is in a growth and awareness phase. By contrast, social marketing is not, which is remarkable thing to point out.

However, in Mexico Cause Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are generally synonymous. That’s not because marketers in Mexico are still learning the benefits of cause marketing so much as it has to do with the culture of the brand marketers and companies in Mexico.

Some business sectors still believe that Marketing is equivalent to merchandising, sales is always a panacea, and partnerships with NGOs are important only to the degree that they can increase market share. In short, selling is marketing, and social good is CSR or social marketing for non-profits.

I still remember an interview with a brand manager from one of the most prominent national dairy products company in the country. He told me he wasn't interested in any cause marketing strategist or even a branding evangelist. He wanted only a marketer who can increase and maintain sales percentage with a decent market position, never mind brand image, promotions, social media, or social marketing program. It’s sad but true.

But it’s not as bad as it seems for cause marketing in Mexico.

In Mexico corporate relationships with NGOs usually goes one of two ways. Either they make direct corporate contributions or they conduct a joint venture with an NGO.

Certainly, these can be elements of cause marketing. But let’s get real: the best program or campaign will be one in which cause marketing is integrated into the brand’s core design. I’ll come back to that topic in a minute.

Joint Ventures are a common approach for brands that want to do a social campaign. It’s easy and comfortable for the brands and very little work since few have any internal social marketing capacity. Instead, they seek NGOs who have existing efforts already in place. That’s the corporate culture in Mexico. But it works and it helps both brands.

One of the most memorable campaign for Cause Marketing was the "Pink Futbol," where soccer balls were colored pink to send the message to women about the importance of regular breast self-exam. The campaign was an alliance between the Federacion Mexicana de Futbol and Fundacion Cim*ab (a NGO dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer).

The campaign did more than raise awareness of the issue. It made an impact on both women and men (especially men) about the seriousness of breast cancer. Both organizations gained from the relationship. All the brands involved gained brand equity and the NGO made progress in the fight against breast cancer.

It also brought home the fact that anyone, whether the country’s favorite sport or the single individual can help make a better world.

This example reflects that while cause marketing in Mexico is making major strides among the biggest brands, it will take time to filter down to medium and small brands. There’s no lack of causes to work with. Obesity, poverty, sedentarism, maternal mortality, breast cancer, promotion of non-human rights, to name a few, are becoming major issues in Mexico where brands could help.

It’s not just about money. It’s about a real manifestation of the true and sincere connection between brands and consumers. It’s about brands being true to what they stand for when they ask consumers to spend their hard earned income.

In Mexico as in every other part of the world, cause marketing is a sincere commitment for the brands to use all the tools, channels and products as a way to change behaviors and help effective causes. When they do, everyone benefits.

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