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Showing posts from May, 2011

Better Media Sponsorship in Cause Marketing

Cause marketing, like all forms of sponsorship, requires activation, or promotion of the campaign in some form. Imagine, then, how sweet it is when you sign one or more members of the media as a campaign sponsor. It’s a little like coming home every night to Giselle Bundchen (or, if you prefer, Tom Brady).

Too bad the media sponsor in this effort benefiting the Red Dress campaign didn’t take a few extra steps to ensure that the campaign had a second life.

The Red Dress Awards have been sponsored for the last eight years by Woman’s Day magazine, the Hachette Filipacci title with a circulation of almost 4 million readers. The Red Dress campaign is a sprawling effort held each February to raise awareness of heart disease among woman. Heart disease is far and away the deadliest killer of women in the United States.

Red Dress efforts are spearheaded jointly, but separately by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. In 2010 the Red Dress Awards benefited the Larry…

Free Cause Marketing Q&A Call With Paul Jones Friday, June 10

Faithful Readers:

The other day Mrs. Alden Keene asked what the Cause Marketing Blog has done to help the world of nonprofits that have done so much for our world (and my livelihood). I pointed out that the blog is coming up on 600 posts, each indexed with helpful keywords and easily searched. It’s the longest-tenured blog on cause marketing, says author and fellow cause marketing blogger Joe Waters. In almost five years of posting, people from better than 99 percent of the countries in the world have found and read the Cause Marketing Blog.

The whole Cause Marketing Blog is a public service, I said.

“Yes,” she replied, “and don’t pull any muscles patting yourself on the back. But what have you done for individual nonprofits and sponsors?”

I continued to pointlessly make my case before conceding that, of course, she was right. So with Mrs. Alden Keene’s encouragement I have decided that I need offer a direct public service to you, my faithful readers.

I am therefore offering a free Q&…

Pepsi and Lowe's Co-Brand to Support the Troops

On monday, May 23, 2011 the post was about the current American zeitgeist for supporting the troops. The post on Thursday May 19, 2011 was about how cause marketing is a form of co-branding. Too bad I didn’t wait until today to post on those separate subjects because I could have killed two birds with one post.

Yesterday I got the Lowe’s circular at left that features co-branded cause marketing with PepsiCo benefiting the troops.

Called Summer Salute Program, here’s how it works: PepsiCo and Lowe’s will donate $1 million to unnamed charity or charities that support the troops and their families. Part of Pepsi’s piece of this includes their NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson (Gatorade), Jeff Gordon (Pepsi Max) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (AMP Energy/Mountain Dew), all of whom will run their cars with Summer Salute paint schemes. All are affiliated with the famed Hendrick Motorsports team. Johnson, of course, drives the Lowe’s car.

To give the campaign a little more emotional depth, Lowe’s and Pepsi…

Charity Caue Marketers, Take Heart!

A press release yesterday announced that Rite Aid, the $25.2 billion (sales) retail drug chain has passed the $50 million mark in donations to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the sixth company among CMNH’s stable of sponsors to do so. This is good news for small, ambitious charities everywhere.

Since 1983 CMNH has generated more than $4.3 billion, or on average, about $153 million a year. While CMNH has a successful direct giving effort, it’s only about 10 years old. And the cause does little if any major gifts fundraising or planned giving. All but a very small percentage of that $4.3 billion total was generated through cause marketing, grassroots fundraising, or some variation thereof. (The photo at the left of Rite Aid’s President and CEO, John Standley is therefore instructive. He's at a fundraising car wash benefiting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.)

The reason that’s so is because of the interesting dynamic that exists between CMNH and the 170 hospitals affiliated …

Research-Driven Cause Marketing

Huggies brand of disposable diapers conducted a survey in 2010 of mothers and their ‘diaper needs.’ The study, called ‘Every Little Bottom’ was released in June 2010. Now, a year later, the Kimberly-Clark brand has a diaper cause marketing campaign… also called Every Little Bottom… meant to generate donations of diapers to diaper banks and food banks in the United States and Canada, as well as call attention to the company’s own pledge to donate as many as 22.5 million diapers.

The study of more than 2,500 mothers included questions like “Keeping your child in a clean diaper is one of the most important things you can do for them as a mother.” And, “Changing you child’s diaper is a wonderful way of showing how much you love them.” And, “Have you ever done any of the following to ensure you could afford enough diapers for your child?” followed by a list of economizing measures mothers might make to keep diapers in their budget.

Mothers overwhelming said yes to all three questions.


Support for the Troops a Cause Marketing Winner

Earlier this month the Center for Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University published a study that found that the cause that most resonates with Americans right now is supporting the troops, something several sponsors seem to have already understood.

Outback Steakhouse has long made cause marketing with a military theme a key piece of its promotional mix and community support. On Veteran’s Day, November 11, veterans and active duty military get a free Bloomin’ Onion appetizer and non-alcoholic drink. Going back to 2002 Outback has also sent employee volunteers to the Middle East to feed the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2010 Outback also had a special menu called “Red, White and Bloomin.’” When you ordered from that menu, Outback would make a donation to Operation Homefront. Outback’s donation to Operation Homefront came to $1 million in 2010.

The Georgetown study, called the Dynamics of Cause Engagement, found that 71 percent of American were very or somewhat knowle…

How an Agency Should Evaluating a Cause Marketing Campaign

How should an agency evaluate a cause campaign it had a hand in?

This question comes on the heels of posts the last two Fridays about how to evaluate a cause marketing campaign if you represent the cause and how to do so if you represent the sponsor.

While there’s plenty in both posts that’s pertinent, agencies still have their own unique gloss on evaluating the success of a campaign.
Agencies frequently care about things like whether a campaign helps them ad another trophy to the case or brings the respect of peers and the trade press.
Agencies care about achieving higher creative standards. And it goes without saying that agencies care about whether the work they do for the campaign meets internal benchmarks for profitability. But in my view what should matter most for agencies is the degree to which they are aligned with the nonprofit’s goals and objectives. Agencies must evaluate the success of a cause marketing campaign based on whether it achieved the nonprofit’s and the sponsor’s d…

Repeat After Me, Cause Marketing is Co-Branding

FSIs or Free-Standing Inserts are those booklets of coupons mailed to your address or stuffed into your Sunday newspaper. They’ve been a hallmark of cause marketing almost from the very earliest days when much of cause marketing involved consumer packaged goods (CPG). For a time the use of FSIs to distribute coupons was declining, but they’ve surged again during the Great Recession, as has the average value of coupons.

The cover of FSI at the left, sponsored by the British-Dutch CPG company Unilever, features the cause Boy’s and Girls Clubs of America. It dropped on May 17. My FSI had eight pages of Unilever coupons not counting the cover, along with at least that many more pages from non-Unilever products.

Unilever, the body copy on the cover tells us, is donating $250,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of America. But that’s the full extent of the co-branding. Where’s the paragraph or two of explanation of all the valuable things Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) do for school-age ki…

Win One, Give One Cause Marketing

We’ve talked about buy one give one cause marketing (BOGO). And buy one give one get one cause marketing (BOGOGO). Even buy one plant one (BOPO) cause marketing. Now Betty Crocker Fruit Rollups from General Mills offers WOGO; win one give one with the item in question being a XO laptop computer.

Here’s how it works. Inside specially-marked packages of 6 varieties of Fruit Rollups are certificates for a free XO computer. A total of 2001 XO computers will be given away in the sweepstakes. A matching number will be donated to children in Africa.

From December 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011, General Mills will also donate one dollar to One Laptop Per Child, the nonprofit organization behind the XO, for every Fruit Rollup coupon redeemed up to $4,000., the promotion’s website, offers a third way for laptops to be donated to Africa. The site, which is targeted to kids and moms has a kind of Angry Birds-type game that allows you to propel a heroic action figure to Africa via a r…

Finally, Cause Marketers Are Hearing Each Other

I’ve been writing this blog for almost five years and have been involved with cause marketing for coming up on 20 years. During that time one of my enduring grumblings has been that marketers from the causes and from the sponsors were talking to each other, but not really listening. It was like a modestly-happy couple communicating everything but trust. But now there are increasing signs that they’re finally hearing and trusting each other.

Witness this label effort called Child Hunger Ends Here from ConAgra Foods on behalf of Feeding America. ConAgra owns more than a half dozen food brands including three that target children; Chef Boyardee, Peter Pan peanut butter, and the Kid Cuisine brand of quick-serve meals.

Enter the 8-digit code from the package of any participating ConAgra item at and a donation is made to Feeding America, up to 2.5 million meals. That probably represents a cash donation of around $360,000, since Feeding America says it can get seve…

Funding Your Startup or New Charity

One of the most confounding charitable endeavors I was ever involved in was figuring out how to fund a startup charity that made grants to other charities., founded in 2007, is in a similar boat. The 501(c)(3) foundation grants would-be adoptive parents up to $15,000 for adoption expenses.

In short, they raise money to give it away.

Included in their fundraising mix are gala-type events, annual donor solicitation, and a small catalog of products including the necklace and bracelets modeled in the ad at the left by actress Nia Vardalos, of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame.

The necklace Nia is wearing in this ad from the June 2011 Redbook magazine goes for $225 and the bracelets for $35 each. The store also currently sells a brown wooden bead necklace for $95 and a tote bag for $20.

The nonprofit fundraising world is set up to favor established charities, and with good reason. IRS figures show that 16 percent of nonprofit charities that filed a 990 tax return in…

How Causes Should Evaluate Their Cause Marketing Campaign

So your cause's cause marketing campaign is over (or at a pause) and it’s time to evaluate. How do you do that?
If your nonprofit is like most of your peers you’ll probably put everybody who was even remotely connected to the project in a room and hash it out until everyone’s eyes bleed. Sounds like a good reason to cut back on the number of participants, right? On the contrary. The fact is, given the turnover in nonprofits, the very most junior person involved with the campaign this year could be running it 18 months from now. Moreover a debriefing is a form of training. (But be careful that it’s not training in how not to run a debriefing!)At a minimum the debriefing should lead to a discussion about whether the campaign met the goals you set out for it. Of course that means that you committed the goals to paper or some digital format beforehand, didn’t you? It also means that people come to the meeting prepared to talk specifics. If the goal was to convert fans into donors, then…

Cause Marketing to the Fashionable Man

The year is 1885 and the organization building the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty runs out of money. Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York newspaper The World, runs an editorial saying that he would print the name of everyone who donated even one penny to the fund. Sure enough pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters start rolling in, along with larger donations. Construction resumes and by April 1886, the pedestal is finished and ready for Lady Liberty.

It’s an old ploy, but the men’s magazine Gentlemen’s Quarterly is using it to raise money for The Gentlemen’s Fund, which in turn raises money for four nonprofit charities; Oceana, represented in this ad by actor Adrian Grenier, Feeding America,, the classroom teacher-funding charity, and Natural Resources Defense Council.

When you donate $100 you can be recognized in GQ’s December 2011 Men of the Year issue. Donation amounts of $200 or more receive a few extra benefits in addition to mention in the magazine.


Cause Marketing in Nigeria

It is with great pleasure I offer up this guest post from Yinka Olaito, a specialist in brand communication, social media, and business communication in Lagos, Nigeria. Yinka is the chief communication officer of Michael Sage Company in Lagos, and a trainer, speaker and fellow blogger. I asked him to address the topic of Cause Marketing in Nigeria. (That's part of the Lagos skyline on the left).

Cause marketing is not new to any tribe (industry, nation, state, or professional association). The challenge in implementing cause marketing is how to be involved, where to be involved and when to be involved in order to create right impression and get maximum value.

Most organizations involved in cause marketing often jump into it just to feel good or because they see other companies doing it. Many get involved in causes that the top management feel good about without any strategic consideration. We’ve seen misdirected cause involvement actually hurting corporate image and perception inste…

Effectively Communicating What Your Cause Really Does

Typically, charities are better at asking for help than they are at demonstrating success at their mission. That’s why I was heartened by this ad from Save the Children.

Only the savviest of a charity's supporters understand what their charities do in a specific way.

We all know that food bank puts food on the shelves, that nonprofit hospitals treat sick people, that aid charities help people in extremis, and that pet rescue charities move pets out of bad situations.

But knowing a food bank’s mission doesn’t exactly clue you into how important logistics are to them. Aid charities succeed or fail based in part on the quality of personal relationships with local officials. All the good things a hospital does can be erased if it can’t also rein in infections.

With Save the Children effectively communicates what saving children looks like at the ground level in the developing world.

In effect it’s a kind of blog, with posts from Save the Children health workers in a half dozen…

Paper Icon Campaign from Smith’s Food and Drug

Smith’s Food and Drug is in the middle of its annual campaign for Primary Children’s Medical Center, a key part of which is this paper icon. I purchased mine for $1 on Saturday, May 7, 2011.

Since 1992 Smith’s, a 130-store unit of the grocery giant Kroger, has donated more than $7.6 million to Primary, one of only a handful of Trauma One pediatric hospitals in the country, and the only such hospital in its service area, which includes parts of Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, and Montana.

Smith’s donation to Primary in 2010 was $1 million and $837,000 in 2009, signaling the regard with which Primary is held in the local community as well as Smith’s skill at fundraising, even in the face of an economic downturn.

The paper icon is large, more than 6½” in diameter, and in full color. The back is blank except for a black and white UPC code. The clerk dutifully asked me if I wanted to buy the icon. The credit card machine had a coordinated paper surround that also promoted the campaign.

The icon …

What Sponsors Should Measure in Cause Marketing Campaigns

If you’re the sponsor of a cause marketing campaign, you’re in the green room, you’re in a makeup chair and you’re sitting pretty.

Here’s what I mean. When I was writing the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Telethon a representative from one of CMN’s largest sponsors used to avail herself of the same makeup services provided for celebrity hosts and guests. Strictly speaking this was verboten. While she appeared on air during sponsor segments, CMN had a separate makeup area for sponsors.

She had some thin excuse why she couldn’t use the regular makeup services… skin allergies or something. At any rate, everyone from CMN in a position to raise the issue with her chose to just let it go. She had a volcanic temper and if she took up a little face time with an honest-to-pete Hollywood makeup artist, what did it really matter?

It’s not so different when it comes to evaluating the success of a cause marketing campaign. While the cause and agency in a cause marketing campaign should have their o…

Don't Make Language Your Enemy in Cause Marketing

The ad at the left is for a pair of yoga pants. When you buy them from, an unspecified donation is made to Off the Mat, Into the World, a nonprofit co-founded by the model in the ad, Seane Corn. The ad ran in the magazine Yoga Journal in May 2010.

‘Off the Mat’ is a fun name, suggesting that there’s other things in life that reward the participant in addition to yoga. So what does Off the Mat do? The ad says OTM’s mission is “inspiring conscious, sustainable community service through the power of yoga.”

I know what community service is and I understand the words conscious and sustainable in a broad way. But when they’re all combined in that sentence it seems like nonsense. It’s hard to imagine unconscious community service, for instance. In this sentence it’s as though plain English got tied up like a pretzel.

I suspect that for many of the readers of Yoga Journal words like conscious and sustainable used in this way represent a cant or argot. That is, a phraseology or idiom par…

A Cause Marketing Study I’d Like to See

Since cause marketing usually faces the consumer, retailers are under pressure to engage in cause marketing campaigns for causes large and small. Necessarily this means that retailers say no to more cause partnerships than they say yes to.

This is as it should be. There are a million or so 501(c)(3) nonprofit charities in the United States and only a thin slice of them are good matches for retail sponsors.

That said, there are certainly many instances when a retailer could be well-matched with more than one cause. Indeed, some grocers do paper icon campaigns for MDA, Children’s Miracle Network, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and others, albeit separated by several months.

Witness this circular from Lowe’s that came to me yesterday. On the front page one of the on-sale items is an 18-piece tool kit, in pink because it benefit's Lowe's campaign for Habitat for Humanity, called 'Women Build.' Appropriately, Lowe’s supports Habitat for Humanity philanthropically as wel…

Cause Marketing on Packaging

Cause marketing with consumer packaged goods often takes place on packaging.

While companies are sometimes loathe to forgo this valuable real estate, it’s almost always the case that the campaign sponsor and cause both benefit most when the packaging explains the campaign well. Remember the wise words from our friends in direct marketing: “tell more, sell more.”

In fact, I once undertook a study of higher value food items on store shelves for a client. What I found was that more expensive or high cachet food items had, on average, more than 20% words on their packaging than did less expensive substitute items. High cachet items were more likely to tell a story or include a narrative of some kind.

The packaging items from the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database, all circa 2002-2004, illustrate my point.

Blue Sky Soda sells in natural food stores. I picked up this can at Whole Foods. Blue Sky, owned by the larger soda purveyor Hansen’s, is kind of the Shasta of natural sodas. That is, it’s…

Livestrong Stadium Deal Sets Naming Rights On its Ear

In March Sporting Kansas City, a Major League Soccer (MLS) team announced that its new $200 million stadium, scheduled to open in June, would be named Livestrong Sporting Park, in honor of the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Moreover, it appears that Livestrong did not pay for the naming rights and is instead guaranteed a donation of no less that $7.5 million over the next six years. The money will come from a portion of ticket and concession sales to both MLS matches and other events held in the stadium, including concerts.

This is the first time a nonprofit has received naming rights for a stadium in the United States. Normally, stadium naming rights go for millions of dollars, even for MLS stadiums. The MLS team in my modestly-sized market, Real Salt Lake, gets a reported $1.5 million to $2 million a year for naming rights from Rio Tinto, the global mining conglomerate headquarterd in London, but with a substantial presence in the Salt Lake Valley.

Soccer is no stranger to causes. My fri…