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Showing posts from July, 2011

Cause Marketing With Sex Appeal

Actress, supermodel, TV producer, philanthropist, and mother of four Heidi Klum wants you to buy the hoodie off her back to benefit StandUp2Cancer, the telethon and charity.

The hooded sweatshirt retails on the STU2C website for $46.99 and features versions of its logo on front and back. Klum, of course, is lovely and talented and STU2C is an admirable, innovative and hard-pressing cause. STU2C has always struck me as a charity in a hurry, and I like that about them. Cancer has bedeviled the world for too long as far as I'm concerned. The ad at the left is from the August 1, 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine.

But here’s comes the ‘but.’ I’m always little chary when causes use sex to sell.

Certainly other cause marketing campaigns use sex in their campaigns. MAC Cosmetics uses sex very effectively in its ads benefiting the MAC AIDS Fund. But then again, that approach is true to MAC's brand and corporate ethos.

While STU2C commonly uses celebrities like Klum in their ads, th…

Cool Cause Marketing Campaign. But Where's the MacGuffin?

Right now Clif Bar invites you to give up your car for your daily commute and ride a bike instead in a promotion called the 2Mile Challenge. When you do so, and log your bike miles online or by smartphone, Clif enters you in a drawing for a $100,000 donation to be split among three charities dedicated to bike advocacy and/or climate change. The exact donation split will be based on participation rates.

In the promotion Clif maps the $100,000 donation to a goal of replacing 100,000 car trips with bike trips. The 2Mile Challenge maps to the fact that most urban car trips in the United States are less than 2 miles. If just ten percent of urban car trips were made by bike instead of car CO2 emissions would be reduced by 25.4 million tons per year in the U.S.

There’s prizes for participants, game-like sub-challenges from co-sponsors like Outside magazine (seen at the left), mechanisms to invite and involve friends, a Twitter and Facebook component, and fun explanatory videos. In short, Clif …

Charmed Cause Marketing

Just as “the rich are different than us,” so too are teenagers.

How so? In their hearts and souls they aspire to make the world a better place. A study conducted earlier this year for the Christian aid charity World Vision found 13-17 year-olds were more likely than adults to say that helping others is more important than ever (90%), more likely to wish they could help others (88%) and more likely to do something active to support good causes (71%).

Notwithstanding the videos that appear on YouTube showing teens beating each other up at KFC or shooting each other at Taco Bell, like never before this aspirational desire to make the world a better place is baked into the zeitgeist of today’s teens.

Here's a case study:

In 2008 siblings Paige Cahue, Gage Cahue, and Tristan Garber… of Indianapolis… developed charms that fit through the eyelets of shoes. After a couple of months of prototyping they ordered a box of charms shaped like a pizza from a manufacturer and started selling them to …

Calling Out a Faux Cause Marketing Pinkwasher

One of the infuriating things about the pink ribbon, emblematic of the fight against breast cancer, is that no one owns it in the United States. Consequently you get really silly things like pink sex toys and pink-labeled watermelon and pick pocketknives and more insidious stuff like these collectible ornaments that were advertised in Sunday's Courier Journal newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky that are a clear and unambiguous case of pinkwashing.

Shouldn’t we just get rid of the mess and the chaos and just assign ownership of the pink ribbon to one charity and be done with it, much the way the trademark to the pink ribbon in Canada is owned by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation?

In a word, no.

Here’s why:

It’s very clear to me that the pink ribbon brand is much bigger because no one entity owns it than it would be if one entity did.

Consider the case of the Android operating system which is in more smart phones than Apple’s OS or RIM’s OS, mostly because Google gives licenses away fo…

Pioneers Needed

Today my adopted state of Utah celebrates Pioneer Day. It’s a founder’s day that commemorates the day an initial band of 151 settlers from the east landed in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.

It’s a state holiday that we celebrate like a second ‘Fourth of July’ with pancake breakfasts, parades, BBQs, and fireworks after dark.

From July 24, 1847, when the vanguard party arrived, until the time when the rails were linked by the transcontinental railroad in 1869, about 70,000 people made the trek westward. They rode in wagons, pushed handcarts and walked, driven by religious faith and fervor. And while the American West was settled by tens of thousands who made their way along the Oregon or Sante Fe Trails, only the Utah Pioneers built fords and ferries and roads, and planted grain for the Pioneers behind them. A few hundred served a stint in the US Army. A handful were at Sutter’s Mill, California when gold was discovered.

But unlike Nevada, California and Colorado, the settlement of Utah…

7 Ways to Fire Up You Small Business Cause Marketing Effort

In today’s rocky economy small businesses may have the most to gain from integrating cause marketing into their marketing efforts. As always, I define cause marketing as "a relationship that bridges commerce and cause in a way that benefits both parties."

Cause marketing has been shown to improve sales, brand and increase customer loyalty. It can help a small company stand out from competitors and improve employee recruiting and retention. And it does one or more or all these things while helping a cause. And, as you probably know, in this economy nonprofits in the United State are the thin red, white, and blue line between even greater social distress. For businesses large and small cause marketing is like exercise. It feels good and it’s good for you.

Here then are ‘7 Ways to Fire Up Your Small Business Cause Marketing Effort.’
Pick an appropriate cause. Consider not only a cause’s appeal, but its capacity to support your effort. It may be that the best cause marketing fit f…

The Post Wherein I Take Credit for a Campaign I Wasn’t Consulted On

J.C. Penney announced yesterday a campaign whereby they will ask customers to round-up their change to the nearest dollar and send the money to the retailer’s long-standing efforts on behalf of afterschool programs.

The campaign is called ‘Pennies From Heaven’ and the goal is to generate 100 million pennies, or $1 million. Pennies is also selling a limited-edition change purse for $9.99 designed by Mark-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the twin sisters who were once primarily actors and now are primarily a brand. There’s also a Facebook component, a ringtone, and promotions with Foursquare and Twitter.

As of this writing, the penny counter at says they’ve generated 130,711,075 pennies. J.C. Penney’s Afterschool Program primarily benefits The Boys and Girls Club of America, the Y, the United Way, FIRST, a science and technology nonprofit, and my old friends at 4-H.

So how do I take credit for any of this?

My post on March 25, 2008 was called, no kidding, ‘Pennies from…

'Checkout' This New Cause Marketing Study

In its most recent edition, The Checkout, the publishing outlet for research developed by The Integer Group, asked Americans an intriguing cause marketing question: “When choosing between two companies that each benefit a cause and sell the same product, similar in price and quality, which of the following would influence your preference for one brand over another.”

Let’s put some flesh on that. The question asks, in effect, when do you buy Progresso soup and when do buy Campbell’s soup, given that they both benefit education causes? Or when do you buy Yoplait yogurt and when do you buy Dannon yogurt, each of which generates funds for separate breast cancer charities?

No surprise, but ‘Personal Relevance of Cause’ was the top answer for both men and women, polling out around 70 percent (the graph was formatted such that exact percentages are hard to determine). The most surprising answer for me was the second most common answer. About 33 percent of men said that “Donates With Every Purc…

Hip to QR Codes

Since the start of the year I’ve been beating the drum pretty hard for sponsors and causes to utilize QR codes in their cause marketing campaigns. Read previous posts on the topic here, here, here and here.

QR codes are like barcodes, only because they’re in 2D they can hold much more data. You can use QR codes to launch a website or Facebook, display augmented reality, launch a picture or a video, plus many other tactical variations.

Here’s tactical implementation that I just proposed to a prospective client that has a physical storefront: put a QR code on a vinyl cling on the clients windows and doors that would launch a sweepstakes entry form.

Since basically every smartphone with a camera can read QR codes… and their expense is relatively low…adding them to all your cause marketing collateral makes a lot of sense.

The QR code at the left is for me and my company, Alden Keene & Associates, Inc.

Point your smartphone at it and it will launch a profile page on a new website called Hip…

Cause Marketing Cooperation

There’s many ways to activate cause marketing, but the most common way… and usually the least expensive… is with public relations.

And one story that you must master when 'efforting' women’s magazines is a pretty standard transactional cause marketing pitch; buy our thing and a portion of the proceeds benefits this fine cause. Get the details right and it’ll probably get you coverage.

But it’s the classic case of good news/bad news.

The good news is you’ve got a pretty good chance at getting coverage in women’s magazines like Ladies Home Journal, O, the Oprah Magazine, Allure, Elle, Vogue, Lucky, Shape, Town and Country, and Self. The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database has cause marketing stories from all of these women’s magazines and more.

The bad news, you’ll almost certainly have to share the coverage with other cause marketing efforts which may be thematically similar to yours, as in the story at the left from the August 2011 Redbook. Magazine editors love, love, love to pu…

Cause Marketing to Raise Awareness

Not all cause-related marketing is about raising money, per se. Sometimes it’s about the charity's messaging.

Pictured are images from a box of Hamburger Helper from the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database that was purchased in 2008. Prominently featured on the front and back of the box is Susan G. Komen’s ‘Pink for the Cure’ campaign.

And while the front makes it clear that General Mills is donating $2 million to Susan G. Komen, it’s not clear that this is a transactional cause marketing campaign. That is, it’s hard to tell if my purchase of this box triggered a donation.

But the back of the box suggests that this is about raising awareness more than raising money.

At the bottom Komen lists “3 ways to help protect yourself.”
Get a mammogram.Get a clinical breast exam.Learn how to do a self-examination.Nothing earth-shattering here. This has been Komen's basic message for coming up on 30 years. But like the saying goes, sometimes it’s better to be reminded of something we already …

Cause Marketing About Nothing

In the TV show Seinfeld Jerry and George pitch NBC a sitcom they said was about nothing. Now the Vermont Foodbank is trying to get patrons at Vermont Hannaford Supermarkets to do Nothing about hunger in the state.

The campaign by NAIL, an ad agency in Providence, Rhode Island, is called “Nothing Can End Hunger.” NAIL has already sold the effort to food banks in Ohio and 'Nothing' is due to launch today, Thursday, July 14, 2011 in benefit of the Vermont Foodbank. The video at the left is from the Ohio portion of the campaign’s website,

Here’s how it works, Hannaford stores are selling empty but labeled cans of ‘Nothing’ for $2.99. The cans are slotted, apparently so that one could take it out to solicit donations for the Vermont Foodbank , although the press release was vague on this point. But by itself the $2.99 derived from the sale of the cans of Nothing helps provide 18 meals.

In effect, it's a dressed up paper icon campaign.

It’s all wonderfully clever an…

Pimping for the National WWII Museum

My father’s brother died in Belgium fighting in the infamous Battle of the Bulge in 1945, one of the 19,000 or so Americans that died . His remains were initially interred in Belgium, but my grandparents requested that his body be brought back home to the United States.

Even though he died decades before I was born I feel great kinship with Uncle Walter. He died childless, so every Memorial Day my family and I lay flowers on his grave and I tell my kids about his heroism.

All told about 16 million American served during WWII and every day about 1,000 veterans die.

To commemorate those who sacrificed so much and to remember America’s role in WWII, historian-author Stephen Ambrose championed the National World War II Museum. The first phase of the Museum opened in New Orleans in 2001. Now the museum is in the midst of a $300 million capital campaign that will enable it to triple in size, and you, my friends can help.

For $200 you can buy a brick to memorialize a grandfather, uncle, aunt, gr…

Cause Marketing Bracketology

Here’s a golfing promotion you could run in advance of and in conjunction with your charity tourney this summer. It features tons of celebrities from the worlds of sport, politics, entertainment and golf, a sweepstakes component, and dinner and breakfast with funneyman Will Ferrell.

Here’s how it works: Celebrities are pitted against each other in something like a NCAA Tournament bracket. Then people vote on who they’d like to see advance based on the parings on Facebook or at the website. There’s no seedings to speak of so it’s basically a straight popularity contest. The person who picks the most brackets correctly wins tickets to play at Ferrell's Will Powered Invitational at Pebble Beach October 28-30, 2011. One hundred people will win a runner’s-up prize of a $50 gift card from Golfsmith, so all the eggs are in one basket.

Golfsmith along with Golf Magazine are the major sponsors. The beneficiary is Cancer for College, a scholarship charity for cancer survivors whose relationsh…

Cause Marketing Matchmaking Freebie

One of the things my company, Alden Keene, does is match nonprofits and sponsors, a service clients pay handsomely for.

Here’s a freebie for Ball jars, which sells food preserving jars and equipment, and Grow Appalachia, which teaches the people of rural Kentucky how to grow, cook and preserve their own food.

According to the website, Grow Appalachia, formed under the auspices of Berea College… a nonsectarian Christian college in Berea, Kentucky… has several pressing goals:
“Basic diet-related health concerns – obesity, diabetes, heart disease.""Limited availability of high-quality fresh produce.""Generational loss of knowledge of gardening, cooking, and food preservation skills.""Widespread economic dependency and lack of autonomy.” The program has one year under its belt. There were 400 people enrolled, 2,800 people fed, 60 tons of food grown at a cost of $1.25 a pound.

Startup funds for Grow Appalachia came from billionaire John Paul DeJoria, who founde…

Recession Offers Advertising Opportunity for Nonprofits

You don’t have to look at the official figures from Association of Magazine Media (AMM), the trade group for the magazine industry, to see that magazines remain mired in the recession right now in the United States. And that may mean opportunity for your nonprofit.

While it’s hardly scientific, I’m certain I’ve recently seen plenty of ‘space available’ ads going to nonprofits.

For instance, both the ads at the left, from Heifer International and Save the Children appeared in the 6-27-2011 issue of Time Magazine and the 6-27-2011 issue of Sports Illustrated. Both titles, of course, are owned by Time-Warner.

The official numbers suggest the industry has yet to make up the ground lost during the Great Recession. Both ad pages and revenue were up modestly in 2010 over 2009. But 50,000 more ad pages were sold in 2008... the year the Great Recession started... than in 2010. As a result, the industry had $3 billion less in revenue in 2010 than 2008. Among the hundreds of titles tracked by the A…

Cause Marketing: The Offer You Can Refuse

So insidious, wretched, low-down, and invidious are the techniques of cause marketing that they should be banned for use by soft drink companies, argues a staff attorney for the advocacy group The Public Health Advocacy Institute in an article published on the PHAI website titled “Organizations that Care About Health Should Play No Part in the Soft Drink Industry’s Effort to Rehabilitate Its Public Image.”

After citing the many cause marketing successes from Coke and Pepsi, author Cara Wilking concludes: “Organizations that care about health should establish a policy that identifies and distinguishes between traditional business relationships, corporate philanthropy and cause-marketing and should commit to not participate in cause-marketing campaigns that promote products, such as sugary drinks, that pose a public health threat.”

What Ms. Wilking would have us believe is that cause marketing is irresistible. A kind of catnip that we mere mortals can't begin to say no to. Hence, it s…

What to Do With Pesky Leftover Cause Marketing Inventory

Not all cause-branded merchandise sells. So what do you do with the leftover inventory?

The Tuesday Morning store in my neighborhood almost always has pink-ribboned kitchen implements from Kitchen Aid that once benefited Susan G. Komen for the Cure but are now selling at a fraction of the original retail price. Tuesday Morning is a deep discount chain of about 850 stores nationwide in the U.S.

Frankly, as a cause marketer it’s slightly embarrassing, even if there’s a whole host of possible reasons that have nothing to do the cause why the merchandise has been remaindered to discounters like Tuesday Morning. Still, much of the point of cause-branded merchandise is that the appeal of the cause helps move the product.

Back in March 2011 the big UK retailer and veteran cause marketer Marks & Spencer offered up men’s underwear designed by six different British sportsmen and benefiting The Prostate Cancer Charity. The original price of the underwear was £15 for a two-pack. Right now, on th…

Cause Marketing Patriots and Public Servants

In the lead up to Independence Day in the United States, which commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, I spotted a handful of cause marketing wherein the ‘cause’ is a burgeoning new coalition of American servicemen and women, police officers, and firefighters.

I’ve already posted on the Lowe’s/Pepsi nationwide co-branded effort that offered discounts to servicemen and women and their families, along with other benefits. And I’ve posted on studies that demonstrate how Americans right now are responsive to the needs of the members of the military and their families.

Rather than revisit that effort at any length I want to concentrate on two local efforts that highlight this budding trend of lumping together firefighters and police with the military.

In the first the local Toyota Dealers group offers Military, Fire, Police (MFP) a 10% discount off vehicle repair work, up to a maximum discount of $50. The offer was activated via a monthly direct mail piece…

Continuing Education for Cause Marketers

What do you do, as a cause marketer, to keep learning?

How you answer the question of self-education determines things like: how successful your cause marketing campaigns are, indeed, how successful you are; your income and your lifespan. Researchers have even shown a correlation between happiness and education.

It’s almost axiomatic that more you know the more you want to know... and as Socrates pointed out, the more you realize how little you actually do know! If education isn't as often humbling as it it enlightening than you're probably not learning enough.

I hope this will be a conversation rather than a monologue or disquisition, so I invite you to comment on what you do to stay on top of your game as a cause marketer.

Business/General Interest
I subscribe to and read a number of business magazines so as to understand current issues, trends, economics and the like, as well as several news magazines. I don’t have a business degree so I feel like this reading has gone a long wa…