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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 relationship with Ferrell I've highlighted in the past.

I haven’t gotten a legal ruling on this, but I think using celebrities in this way falls under ‘fair use,’ although it could be that Golf Magazine got permission to use all 64 names. Even if I’m wrong you could probably easily get permission in your market to use the names of 64 local celebrities. Or you could use corporate names, or even the names of deceased celebrities.

The Will Powered Invitational and Golf Magazine are using this mainly to promote the tourney, but you could almost certainly use this as a fundraiser. For instance, if the brackets were filled with company names, you could ask for a donation to participate in the brackets. A donation of $250 from 64 companies, which is in-reach for even small businesses, would generate an extra $16,000!

Or you could seed the companies based on their donation amount. Perhaps a $1,000 donation gets you a #1 seeding, while a $500 donation gets you a #8 seeding and so on.

In a lot of states, although not mine, you could ask for a fee to submit a bracket. It’s not so different from bingo. Get 500 participants at $10 a bracket sheet and that’s an extra $5,000. At $50 a bracket sheet that’s an extra $25,000 your charity tourney takes in.

For golf lovers, this gets more appealing the better the golf course your tourney is at. I like Will Ferrell plenty, but the greater appeal for me would be the chance to play at the legendary Pebble Beach Course.

Anyone who’s ever put together a charity tournament knows how hard it is getting incremental income after sponsorships, greens fees, and the auction. This promotion offers a fun new way to raise more money for the cause.


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In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

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