Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2011

Four Publications, Four Sponsors, Four Seal Campaigns

Remember the scene in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off when he’s rhapsodizing about the 1961 Ferrari GT California Spyder he’s been bombing around Chicago in? He says to the camera, breaking the fourth wall, “It is so choice. If you have the means I highly recommend picking one up.” Means indeed. A vintage 250 is said to set one back a cool $10 million.

In a like way, if your charity brand has the means, I highly recommend that you pick up a kind of cause marketing that I’ve come to call a ‘seal campaign.’ Seal campaigns are endorsements or licensing arrangements that carry the logo or seal of a charity, usually following an audit of some kind and the payment of a fee. Think seals of approval.

The one I see the most often these days is for the Forest Stewardship Council, which was founded in Bonn, Germany in 1993. The FSC has a rather complicated organizational structure, but suffice it to say that the FSC seal can be seen in dozens of countries across the globe on every kind of p…

Cause Marketing Advertising From Ben & Jerry's

Greyston Bakery, a social enterprise, has been supplying Ben & Jerry’s with brownies since 1990, and now the company has decided to feature the bakery and its mission in an integrated campaign of television and print ads.

The TV ads feature a kind of diorama of the Greyston Bakery factory… designed by Maya Lin… on the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York. We see two hands prepare a cup of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie to house the Greyston Factory, along other Yonkers landmarks, before the hand rings the factory’s bell.

Tiny Greyston Bakers… animated in stop-action…emerge and give flight to their brownies with balloons, all while a plinky-sounding ukulele or tenor guitar plays a simple melody. One of the workers is given a bouquet of balloons and he, too, takes flight, sailing across the closing screen, which features a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie and the line, “Packed With Brownies That Do Good.”

A recent FSI (free-standing insert) has an abbreviated v…

Ketchum's Living in Its Own Private Idaho When it Comes to Cause Marketing

Ketchum, the big PR firm, is currently trumpeting the results of a new study that finds, as the headline for the press release puts it, that when it comes to cause marketing most consumers are “All Talk, Little Action.”

Called the ‘BlogHer 2011 Social Media Matters Study,’ it purports that, “while Americans claim they are more likely to purchase a product if the brand supports a cause, and more than 40 percent have ‘liked’ a brand or posted on Facebook for supporting a cause, barely one in five actually put their money where their good intentions are by switching brands, paying more or purchasing more.”

Let’s unpack that sentence a little. The suggestion is that if you have liked a cause on Facebook... the online equivalent of drinking a Diet Coke so as to mitigate the effect of the slice of cheesecake you had with are still nonetheless unlikely to have actually made some kind of a real commitment to a cause. Go figure.

Quick raise of hands here from all the nonprofits. All…

Men and Cause Marketing

Earlier this Summer results starting coming out from the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study and among the headlines was women are generally more responsive to cause marketing than men, providing further confirmation of what I’ve long suspected.

But men aren’t absent from the cause marketing equation. I asked the Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) at Georgetown University, which authored the study, to parse out responses from men on key issues and they kindly obliged.

Cause marketing targeted to men is a topic of some interest to cause marketers. Cause marketing is a form of sponsorship. Its biggest rival for sponsorship dollars comes from sports, which as a whole is about seven times larger than cause marketing. Men constitute the usual target market for sports. In short, men participate in sponsorship in a big way. But cause marketers are still learning how to target men.

The topic of men and cause marketing came up at the recent Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago. Mike Swenson…

Bringing Word of Mouth to Cause Marketing

1. worthy of notice: worth noticing or commenting on
2. unusual: unusual or exceptional, and attracting attention because of thisThe success of your next cause marketing campaign (and perhaps all your marketing efforts) may hang on this single adjective. That’s the word from Andy Sernovitz, author of the book Word of Mouth Marketing and founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

Word of mouth has been around forever and everyone knows how powerful it can be, for good and ill. But without an assist from the tenets of marketing, word of mouth by itself is incomplete, like pasta without the sauce.

Propelling good word of mouth, Sernovitz says, has never been easier. Email and the social media amount to word of mouth particle accelerators, getting more from word of mouth than it could under its own power.

For instance, Sernovitz says, Gap sends out an occasional email to their staff that is passed off as a super-secret friends-only discount. The email says that the di…

Buy One Give One Blankets

The New York office of design firm Beattie McGuinness Bungay has designed and is now selling an infant blanket meant to help new parents in the developing world to understand things like vaccinations, average infant growth, breast-feeding, illness-warning signs and the like, and they’re taking a BOGO approach to marketing the blankets.

‘The Information Blanket’ is made of double-knit cotton…loomed in North Carolina and screen printed and lock-stitched in New York City… and features bold info-graphics screen-printed in water-based dyes. You can see the blanket at the left from this article in the June issue of Fast Company magazine.

The BOGO (Buy One, Give One) price is $40 and the donation-only price is $25. Plainly BMB wants you to buy two.

The first batch of Information Blankets are headed for Uganda, where, the website says, the infant mortality rate is 76.9 deaths per 100,000 births. The comparable rate in the United States is 6.3. In Japan it’s almost half again lower at 3.2 deaths …

When Government is the Sponsor

In Time, Sports Illustrated and other magazines there’s been a series of ads running in hot rotation and in support of a website called ‘’ The ads and the website are sponsored by Markel Insurance Company, which insures boats and other things and a slightly murky entity called ‘Sport Fishing Restoration.’ is so declarative it’s easy to guess what that’s about. But Sport Fishing Restoration? Therein lies a fish story about the financing of World War Two, habitat restoration and government funded cause marketing.

In WWII, Congress enacted a tax on fishing tackle to help fund the war effort. By 1950, the law was changed so that tax revenues would go to state natural resource agencies to improve sport fishing. Stuff like fisheries research, boat docks and ramps, habitat improvement and education.

In 1998 Sport Fishing Restoration founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) with members of the recreational fish…

Space Available Cause Marketing on Packaging

This bottom panel of this box of house brand facial tissue box from Walmart features what amounts to space available cause marketing on package, something many other sponsors could also do.

Magazines and newspapers have long offered space-available ads to nonprofits. If they have your ad in the right form that fits a hole they have in their publication... and if your ad is compelling... they might run your ad for free. But I’ve never noticed anything like that for packaging.

That’s not for lack of proximity. This box has been rattling around my car for some time. The copyright says 2005, although I doubt this box is that old. But since Walmart changed its logo in 2008, and got away from the dash between Wal and mart, the box is no newer than that.

The effort benefits Walmart’s effort in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Youth called The Missing Children’s Network. At the front of every Walmart store and Sam’s Club in the United States is a board with pictures…

Preparing for Every Contigency in Your Cause Marketing Proposal

Consider this cause marketing hypothetical.

You’ve made your best cause marketing pitch to a would-be sponsor. It’s smart, strategically appropriate, and well activated across new media and old. You’re certain your prospect’s customers will get it and respond. But then a week goes by without hearing back from the prospect. So on day eight you call, but don’t press very hard. The prospect apologizes all over herself.

Everybody back at corporate loves the proposal, she says. Trouble is, unbeknownst to the marketing staff, the CEO had promised a campaign to another cause. The marketing department doesn’t think they can or should do both this year. So sorry. Maybe next time.

While you could play off of their guilt and press for a donation from the company foundation, instead you decide to offer a counter proposal. How about if all the company does is ask their customers for a straight ahead donation?

I don’t know whether or not this is what happened with this effort from big box sports retail…

Improve Your Cause Marketing by Flashing a Little Sock

I happened to catch a few moments of Gene Kelly and Van Johnson dancing in the 1954 MGM musical Brigadoon on television the other night.

As was typical of Kelly’s choreography, when he and Van Johnson danced together their steps mirrored each other. And Johnson, who was a respectable hoofer, acquitted himself very well. But still I couldn’t help looking first and most often at the immortal Kelly.

Little wonder, I suppose. Gene Kelly was so talented, a famous perfectionist, and a grindingly hard worker yet he still somehow managed to make every step look fluid, even facile.

So much so that when the great Latvian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov was considering defecting to the West during the bad old Soviet days, one thing that gave him pause was that all American dancers might be as skilled as Kelly or Fred Astaire. Hah!

(Baryshnikov once said of Astaire, “His perfection gives us complexes, because he’s too perfect. His perfection is an absurdity that’s hard to face.”)

All that’s a given. Even t…

Cause Marketing for Struggling Artists

When you donate $1 at, you help struggling musical artists, enter into a sweepstakes to go to the 2012 Grammy Awards show, and place your picture on a giant online mosaic.

“Proceeds,” the website says, “from the mosaic will go to MusiCares, an organization that helps music people who don't have safety nets for emergencies. When you donate and upload your photo(s) to the MusiCares mosaic, you'll be giving to a good cause and you can share how music has given back to you.”

The goal is to put up 1 million photos.

The ad above, from the June 17, 2011 issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine also mentions the support of six artists: Selena Gomez; Parachute; Sugarland; Owl City; Melanie Fiona; and, Colbie Caillat. The website mentions that Sony is a campaign sponsor and by my count all these artists save Parachute are affiliated with Sony Music.

In effect, MusiCares, which is a nonprofit subset of the Grammy Foundation, has created a kind of online paper icon effort.

Angry Faux Cause Marketing from Snickers

Snickers, the candy bar brand from Mars Inc., is a prominent and generous supporter of the anti-hunger charity Feeding America. So why are they doing something that looks suspiciously like faux cause marketing?

The ad in question is from Sports Illustrated magazine and depicts a bee, a roaring grizzly bear, insult comedian Don Rickles, and actor Joe Pesci, who specializes in playing out-of-control-angry mob characters. The ad depicts a kind of gas gauge with an arrow and the headline “How Angry Does Hunger Make You?”

That headline seems custom-made for a cause marketing campaign.

Are you hungry enough to really do something about the crisis of the hungry in United States?, is where this ad could be heading. If so, kill two birds with one stone by grabbing a Snickers. When you do, we’ll make a donation to our long-time partner Feeding America.

But this isn't an ad or an effort in support of Feeding America.

Certainly past Snickers efforts for Feeding America have featured much more beni…

Using 'Counters' to Your Advantage in Cause Marketing

The National Debt Clock on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan continuously updates, highlighting the amount of debt the American people are encumbered with. Hospital emergency rooms in my market and across the country are currently running wait time counters on billboards. AMD ran a counter on its electronic sign in Times Square in New York City that purported to show how much time is wasted by ‘slow’ Intel chips compared to ‘fast’ AMD chips.

And, on the back page at the bottom of its weekly flyers, the big box pet retailer Petsmart runs a counter that shows how many lives Petsmart Charities have saved.

Counters or clocks can be a powerful marketing concept.

Trouble is, the figures from Petsmart Charities don’t seem to change very often.

Here are two weekly Petsmart flyers in my market, separated by three weeks, that show the same number of lives saved, 4,122,832.

How to account for the sameness of the number?

It could be, of course, that Petsmart Charities’ efforts did not result in any more lives …

When is Cause Marketing Not a Partnership?

In Zen Buddhism there is the notion of a koan, often a riddle, but sometimes a statement or question or dialogue that can’t be understood through strictly rational thought. A koan is meant to help train the mind to better access intuition, especially through meditation The most famous koan, says Wikipedia, might be ‘what is the sound of one hand clapping?’

Here’s one for cause marketers; ‘when is cause marketing not a partnership?’

The rational mind says that, of course, cause marketing is always a partnership. The riddle makes no sense. Except in cases where the sponsor is the cause there’s always at least two parties. Boom. That’s a partnership.

But meditate on it a little longer and you can see when cause marketing might not be a partnership. When one party benefits in gross disproportion to the other. Or when one party doesn’t work to make sure that the putative partner benefits to his or her satisfaction.

There’s no partnership in cause marketing unless all parties to the agreement f…

Cause Marketing Post #600

Every day my RSS reader sends me a fat email with all the day’s listings of the word cause marketing. I see cause marketing campaigns advertised on TV, in magazines, or Facebook and the myriad other social media. My friend and fellow blogger Joe Waters has a Dummies book, for crying out loud, coming out in July about cause marketing. Every business day I add my own content to all the rest with this blog. Today, I celebrate the 600th post on the Cause Marketing Blog.

One of those posts, from a few years back, declared that we are in the golden age of cause marketing, quoting the old Carly Simon song Anticipation, which features the lyrics, “these are the gold old days.” So far as it goes, I believe that’s still the case.

But the current state of cause marketing, I think, could be summarized in the U2 song sung by that old cause marketer Bono, ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

That’s because for almost as long as I’ve known about cause marketing, nearly 20 years now, I’ve been …

Catty Faux Cause Marketing from Church and Dwight

In my ongoing effort to identify and root out faux cause marketing I came across this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database from Church & Dwight, makers of Arm & Hammer baking soda products, including, in this case, Feline Pine kitty litter.

The ad depicts militant beret-wearing cats fronted by ‘Che Gato,’ paws of fury raised against clay kitty litter, and the attendant dust, perfumes, and harsh chemicals. Che Gato is even looking left of the camera's perspective, like the iconic picture of Che Guevara.

The headline rages Karl Marx-style ‘Cats of the World Rejoice, We Now Have a Better Choice!’ Placards raised by other protesting cats declare, ‘We Want Feline Pine,’ and ‘We Are C.A.C.’

And that’s where the faux cause marketing comes into play. There’s a website with a dot-org extension;

Now any of us could go and register an available dot-org extension. It’s not like ICANN, the official registrar of top-level Internet domain extensions, checks any…

How Inefficient Charities Can Spoil Your Cause Marketing

The issue of Time magazine currently on newsstands is all about cancer, including a story on cancer research charities called 'Check Your Charity.' One charity highlighted in the article, called the National Breast Cancer Research Charity, made me do a double-take. Time reports that it took $12.7 million in 2009, and spent 52 percent on fundraising. The reporter’s lead says a lot; “It's not that the National Breast Cancer Research Center is a scam….”

What gave me the double-take was that National Breast Cancer Research Center sounds so much like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the New York nonprofit which took in $30.2 million in revenue in 2009 and spent a scant 5.9 percent on fundraising.

The phrase ‘cancer research’ has become a marketing conceit. Put the words together and you have fundraising magic. But it sucks to be a well-proven charity like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, when a less efficient charity can invoke the same magic words.

"I shudder wh…

Passing The Plate Among the Religious

A new study out Monday, June 6, 2011 finds that contrary to conventional wisdom, religious people are more likely to donate to causes that aren’t strictly religious than to those that are.

The study, conducted by Grey Matter Research and Consulting in Phoenix and commissioned by Russ Reid Company of Pasadena, shows that just 41 percent of donors who attend religious worship services regularly support a cause they described as “religious,” other than the contributions they make to their place of worship.

Instead, religious donors are more likely to have given toward disaster relief (68 percent), domestic hunger or poverty relief (66 percent), helping people with disabilities (56 percent), health care or medical research (54 percent), and veterans’ causes (52 percent) than they are to have supported specifically religious causes.

In short, religious people aren’t ‘lost causes’ for fundraisers and charity work that isn’t explicitly religious.

“There tends to be a stereotype that religious do…

Our Complicated Feelings for Lance Armstrong

Reporters can be a suspicious lot by nature. 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley and his producer certainly trained all their skepticism on Lance Armstrong during a story that aired on May 22, 2011 that lays out the ways he may have used illegal performance-enhancing drugs on his way to seven consecutive Tour de France wins. Armstrong’s lawyers have demanded an on-air apology from 60 Minutes for reporting they term as ‘untethered to reality.’

Other reporters have rushed to the defense of 60 Minutes.

However the battle of public opinion plays out Armstrong may well get his day in court. After being impaneled back in September 2010, a Los Angeles grand jury is apparently still hearing testimony on the Armstrong doping case. Armstrong’s lawyers have had pointed remarks for the Federal Investigator in the case, Jeff Novitzky, that explicitly wrap Armstrong in the cloak of an anti-cancer hero.

“We know Novitzky,” says Armstrong’s attorney John Keker, “and plan to prove that these are his re…

Quien es Mas Macho? More Cause Marketing for Dudes

In the lead-up to World Environment Day, Sunday, May 5, 2011 Budweiser is asking men to save water by forgoing shaving. Called 'Grow One. Save a Million' (GOSAM), the promotion has been going on in a low-profile way since 2010. Budweiser is also donating $150,000 to the River Network, a watershed conservation charity.

But the campaign has since gone Hollywood with the inclusion of Nick Offerman, the butch star of the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation.

GOSAM is premised on the fact that American men use an average five gallons of water per shave. Saving a million gallons of water should be pretty easy therefore, since 1,000,000 divided by 5 gallons is 200,000. Divide that by 20, the number of days a man might shave in a month, and the result is 10,000. So if 10,000 dudes quit shaving for a month in America, we’re there. Since beer starts with water, water conservation is a natural fit for Budweiser.

But Budweiser is relying on GOSAM to save water by being fun. In one release, Offer…

Don't Use Exploitive Images in Charitable Appeals, Real World Results Suggest

A study, published in the December 2009 Journal of Marketing Research, found that children’s charities would receive greater donations if they depicted sad-looking children in their appeals. But real-world results show that the research may not be valid, especially for animals.

“The working theory,” I wrote in a June 2009 post, “was that people ‘catch’ one another’s emotions…something that’s been shown again and again in many other studies… but which had never been applied to charitable appeals.”

“They tested their thesis in a series of experiments, including a behavioral test where they showed subjects randomly-selected charitable appeals and gave them money to give.

“In the other tests researchers tried to zero in on the emotional state of the test subjects.

“The paper, called ‘The Face of Need,’ was authored by Professor Debora Small of The Wharton School and Nicole Verrochi, a PhD candidate, who openly wonder why charities don’t use sad faces of children more often.

“I’ve got a few ans…

Multi-Cultural and Cross-Cultural Cause Marketing

Results released yesterday from the ‘Dynamics of Cause Engagement’ study show that Hispanics and African Americans in the United States are more likely than Caucasians to support causes online than offline, more likely to feel social sites networking help causes raise visibility, and more likely to feel that they personally can help causes through online social networks.

The study comes from Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication, and took place in late 2010. Several results have been reported in the last month from the analysis of ‘Dynamics,’ survey, which was funded by Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

Another study, which also took place in 2010, found that among the 12 countries surveyed, 85 percent of Mexican nationals were likely to buy a brand that supports a good cause, the highest percent of any country surveyed. In that effort, called Edelman’s Goodpurpose Study 2010, Brazil, China and India followed closely behind Mexico. The United States finished fi…