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Showing posts from August, 2011

It's Time Charity Cause Marketers Started Thinking Like Capital Campaign Fundraisers

Not long ago I took a call from an entrepreneur who had tried to do a deal with a prominent children’s charity that does a notable amount of cause marketing. He loved the cause… still does… but after two years time spent on the project it didn’t pan out, mainly because the minimums and the upfront fees the charity required to participate were two high for the entrepreneur’s budget.

I understand why cause marketing charities have participation minimums or up-front fees. It’s partly a management issue. How do you manage a bunch of $10,000 (more or less) cause marketing campaigns and still make money? To a lesser degree it’s about keeping the cause's image in the main channels of the branding river. And, of course, it’s about harvesting some hard-won brand equity.

But I’ve taken a lot of calls like this over the last 20 years, as a consultant and as a nonprofit executive and staffer, and it’s been frustrating almost every time.

I think it’s time for the big cause marketing charities …

Cause Marketing at Retail With Cash Register Tape

Imagine every time someone buys one of your paper icons at retail that the printed receipt spits out a bounce-back coupon for a sponsor.

That idea occurred to me when I was at the grocery store the other day. I got both a custom-printed coupon and a coupon for a free smoothie with purchase at McDonalds.

I did a little research and found that there are basically two players in the grocery store receipt market with two different approaches. Both claim high levels of penetration in the largest markets. But either would work for the retail promotion I have in mind.

Catalina Marketing offers stores little printers… separate from the cash register printers… that spit out a coupon, oftentimes for a product that competes with the one you just bought. So if you bought a can of Campbell's soup you might get a coupon for a can of Progresso soup.

Register Tape Network preprints the back of paper cash register tape with ads or coupons for chiropractors, fast food, hair salons, and the like th…

Remember SPAT When Activating Your Cause Marketing via PR

It’s probably fair to say that more cause marketing campaigns are activated by public relations than by advertising.

You my readers are a sophisticated audience so there’s no need to detail the differences between advertising and public relations. Suffice it to say that while PR has greater credibility, it’s challenging to get the frequency using PR alone that you can get with advertising. Advertising offers frequency and repeatability, but it can be expensive and it’s less credible than PR.

So how do you activate your cause marketing story using public relations?

One answer is that the story you tell the media have a boy and a puppy, like the story above in People magazine about 7-year-old Evan Moss who wrote a picture book called “My Seizure Dog” about an epilepsy-detecting dog that he wished his family could afford. In the book Evan imagined he and his seizure dog in various settings, including going to outer space together.

The book… sold at a local café and on Amazon… generated $…

Paper Icon Campaign at Whole Foods Helps Launch FoodCorps

On the heals of Joe Waters and Joanna MacDonald’s fine book Cause Marketing for Dummies…which dives deep into cause marketing at point of purchase… I came across this paper icon campaign from Whole Foods that benefits gardening in schools.

Called the Garden Grant Program, the goal is to raise $2,000,000 so as to be able to offer 1,000 schools a $2,000 grant to either create or expand an existing school garden. The nonprofit partner is New York City-based FoodCorps, a subset of AmeriCorps so new the ink on the logo isn’t yet dry.

FoodCorps is a service corps of young people…think early post-college age kids… who committed to a three-fold mission:
“Deliver hands-on nutrition education"“Build and tend school gardens"“Bring high-quality local food into public school cafeterias"The first 50 fanned out across the USA early this month. You may have read Mark Bittman’s column on the rollout in the New York Times 23 August 2011. Bittman writes that the inaugural group of FoodCor…

I'm No Fan of This Cause Marketing Ad Campaign

On 14 June, 2007 I posted on the problems I had with Mandarin Oriental’s cause marketing campaign featuring various celebrities and their cause of choice. Now, 4 years later, if anything the campaign is worse because it still does the same thing; a celebrity’s charity of choice gets a mention and a $10,000 donation, and nothing more.

Here’s what I wrote back then:
There are two kinds of celebrities in the world; those that are in the Mandarin Oriental ad campaign running right now and those whose agents are trying to get them in.

It’s an image ad campaign for the 17 (now 23) hotels that are part of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. In it celebrities including I.M. Pei, Zubin Mehta, Helen Mirren, Elle McPherson, and Dame Edna-Barry Humphries are photographed in settings of their choice and they name their favorite Mandarin property. Dame Edna-Barry Humphries got to name two! (Now there’s a new set of celebrity ‘fans,’ with a few holdovers including Mirren, Neeson [see below] and Pei).…

Advisory Boards For Cause Marketers

Charities that do a meaningful amount of cause marketing probably need an advisory board or group whose sole job is to help the organization expand its cause marketing footprint.

At first blush you might think that all you need is a handful of Rolodex warriors willing to do battle on your behalf. But in fact, once corporate types reach a certain threshold they probably all have a hefty enough Rolodex that any competent cause marketer could effectively mine it, to mix the metaphor.

Instead, in homage to Guy Kawasaki and his fine book The Art of the Start, I suggest that are actually five types of people you want on your cause marketing advisory board (CMAB).
Industry Heavy Hitters. If your cause marketing takes place in different settings, you need a representative number of people from each of those principal industries on your CMAB. Captain Rolodex. This guy/gal has more than just a list of buddies from his/her rise in rank and power. This person could get the president of the United…

Restructure This Cause Marketing Sweepstakes to Get to Something Better

Henkel, the large German consumer products and adhesives company has come in for some criticism in these pages for stingy cause marketing payouts and even bad copyediting. I’ve got more criticism this time out, only of the constructive variety.

Through the end of September 2011 Henkel is running a contest to find the best ideas to improve school fitness in America and get a shot at three $10,000 prizes awarded to one elementary, one middle, and one high school.

Here’s how it works: Enter your school at Then work your social network to get the most votes from the public. The cause is called Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation.

The mission of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation is to “Help cultivate a healthier generation of children today so that we will have a healthier America tomorrow.” The Alliance keeps a database of fitness approaches on its website.

Large cash prizes have an int…

Book Review of "Cause Marketing for Dummies" by Waters and MacDonald

In the December 1991 issue of Life magazine insurer Fireman’s Fund ran the image ad at the left that describes the insurer’s role in the restoration of Ellis Island. Read the body copy and conspicuous by its absence is any mention of Fireman’s Fund actually supporting the restoration financially.

That was 20 years ago… just eight years after American Express’s seminal cause marketing effort on behalf of the restoration of the neighboring Statue of Liberty… and a lot has changed. Life magazine still ran ads for cigarettes, for instance. Moreover, I submit to you that if Ellis Island were being restored in 2011 Fireman’s Fund would almost certainly make a financial donation to the effort that would be mentioned in the ad.

Joe Waters and Joanna MacDonald both started their careers in cause marketing in the early 1990s, (as did I). And in the process they and other pioneers of cause marketing have changed the way companies think about and communicate the ways that they benefit society, an…

The Challenge of Sports Celebrities for Charities

I love sports and I love athletes and it’s been my pleasure to be around Heisman Trophy winners, two-sport legends, Super Bowl MVPs, NBA 7-footers, and first-round draft picks, all in charitable settings. I’ve even got an autograph from futbol marvel Pele.

Smart sports agents try to get their athletes involved with causes because it helps broaden their appeal. Not that they necessarily need it. In certain pro sports towns (as well as at all the SEC schools!) highly-paid athletes stroll around among us like demigods down from Olympus.

For instance, I can all but guarantee that Ben Roethlisberger, the controversial Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has never bought his own drink in Steeltown. A Pittsburgh-area cause that can entice Big Ben to support them with his presence is all but assured of selling out that event.

But just 300 miles away in Philadelphia or 250 miles away in Cleveland, Roethlisberger couldn’t get a cab at the airport or sell his signed jersey…

Mashing Up Loyalty Programs and Cause Marketing

In my wallet are cards and keyfobs for a half-dozen loyalty programs from the sophisticated, like SkyMiles and Marriott Rewards and a couple grocery chains to several no-tech buy 10 get one free punch cards from a bakery and a couple of restaurants. Your wallet or handbag probably holds a similar variety of rewards cards.

But is there a potential match between loyalty programs and cause marketing?

Marketing superstar Coke, which runs the gigantic rewards program, has placed its bet.

Now to be clear, label redemption efforts from Campbell’s, the Boxtops for Education campaign from General Mills and others are both loyalty and cause marketing programs. But MyCokeRewards was founded as an effort to reward Coke purchasers, not their favored causes.

At the left is an ad that ran in the 15 August, 2011 issue of People magazine. Register your school at and it could receive a $25,000 grant to become a ‘Sprite Spark Park.’ Formatted as a sweepstakes, …

Teaching Philistines How to Give

There he is at your swanky charity gala; rich, successful, and so bored you're worried he may start gouging at his eyes with a salad fork. He’s got an MBA from an Ivy and a lovely wife… who studied art history… and who drags him kicking and screaming to your events. He’s makes more money than some Caribbean countries, but the most you may ever get from him is the price of the gala’s tickets.

Is it even possible to get this Philistine to change his mind about your cause?

The answer has as much to do with how people learn and what kind of ideas they are exposed to as it does how much money they have to give.

A study by Professor Raymond Fisman from Columbia Business School… along with Shachar Kariv of UC Berkeley and Daniel Markovitz of the Yale Law School… suggests that even mature students can change their minds when presented with powerful ideas.

In this study Fisman and his co-authors Shachar Kariv and Daniel Markovitz studied first year Yale law students to see to what degree t…

Towards a More Hygienic Cause Marketing Campaign for Lysol

With the approaching start of the new school year Lysol brand of disinfectant has a cause marketing campaign that awards $25,000 in prizes to the school with the highest average attendance from November 1 to 30, 2011.

If you’re like me it took me a couple of beats to understand what school attendance has to do with Lysol. But even after I got it the Lysol Blue Ribbon Attendance Challenge doesn’t seem to do all the things Lysol needs it to do.

Here’s how the Lysol Blue Ribbon Attendance Challenge works. You must register your school online in the contest at The contest runs throughout the month of November and the winning school gets $25,000 in prizes. As of this writing the contest’s official handbook wasn’t yet available online.

As a part of the promotion Lysol offers a school curriculum on germs and prevention that teachers can use in their classrooms.

That’s really… um… earnest. But it seems like half an effort.

What Lysol really needs out of this effort is to generate g…

Justin Bieber’s Cause Marketed Perfume Should Be More Bieberiffic

17-year-old Canadian heartthrob Justin Bieber wants you to buy his new perfume line called Someday, and when you do all net profits “after taxes, royalties, expenses and company requirements are deducted” will go to Pencils of Promise, a school-building charity and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Bieber’s promotional partner for Someday, a New York outfit called Give Back Brands, promises to donate its Someday profits to “restoring after-school programs” and “school food programs.” Someday appears to be Give Back’s only product right now.

But this isn’t just a straight transactional cause marketing promotion. Instead, Bieber has split the middle between a straight-ahead cause marketing promotion and an all-benefits brand of the type that Rachael Ray uses in her dog food line called Nutrish.

It’s hard to say whether or not Bieber is making any scratch on this deal. Royalties is one way celebrities make money from endorsements. But I’m willing to give him the benefit of a doubt.

However, in…

Are Funds from Cause Marketing Tarnished?

All nonprofit leaders must make some accommodation with the issue of ‘tarnished' or tainted money.

It’s a question of morality, that is, right and wrong. Is there money that you cannot accept because of the way it was generated or from whom it comes?

If you’re PETA can you take money from Purina or Hormel? If you’re MADD can you accept donations from beer and liquor companies? If you’re a liberal political action committee can you accept money from the Koch brothers? Or, conversely, if you're a conservative think tank, could you take money from George Soros? If you’re the Sierra Club can you take money from Clorox?

It’s not just a matter of cashing checks. It’s what cashing those checks says to the rest of your supporters. Will taking money from certain individuals or entities stifle dissent or muzzle your voice? Can you retain your independence and still accept money from those you disagree with? Are you enabling ‘causewashing?’

For many nonprofits the indirect nature of the …

Boxtops for Education Back to School Promotion in Pictures

Last Sunday August 7, 2011 Boxtops for Education ran a tightly coordinated back to school promotion in my market, and probably yours as well. It featured dozens of ads in my local newspaper promoting many of its supporting brands. This post includes a representative number of scans of the ads I spotted in the paper, all of which are now found the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

Boxtops for Education was founded by General Mills, but has been adopted by other non-competing brands. The biggest presence overall was General Mills’ themed FSI (Free Standing Insert), which, in my market, had 12-pages of coupons. Mainly it was General Mills strongest brands, Yoplait, Big G Cereals, Progresso, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, etc. There was at least some Boxtops for Education branding on 11 of the 12 pages in the FSI. The FSI cover is on the left.

Yoplait, so closely associated with Susan G Komen for the Cure was one of the brands in the FSI, and indeed some cartons of Yoplait c…

Buy One Plant One Cause Marketing at the Outdoor Retailer Show

Over the last few years I’ve profiled about a dozen or so variations on a theme of ‘Buy One Give One’ (BOGO). But at the Outdoor Retailer Show that wrapped up Saturday, August 6, 2011 I found a new favorite.

Footwear company Oboz, which is a contraction of the words Outside-Bozeman specializes in shoes and boots true to its Montana roots. Their BOGO cause marketing is a straightforward and appealing; buy a pair of Oboz and the company will plant a tree. What’s unusual is the benefiting cause, called Trees for the Future.

Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, Trees for the Future thinks of trees much the same way that Heifer International thinks about domesticated animals; that is, as a provider of wealth for people in the developing world. Trees for the Future plants trees that can become a source of wealth to local families.

Think about it, in addition to the environmental benefits of trees they also provide fruits and nuts, fuel, sap, windbreaks, shade, fertilizer, fodder, a pro…

Cause Marketing During Trade Shows

The Summer 2011 Outdoor Retailer Show attracts something close to 25,000 people… about the population of a small city… and puts them in a space about the size of 2 city blocks square.

Several cause marketers realized it was also a good time to do a little cause marketing to a densely populated and captive audience. Gerber, the knife maker repeated a promotion in ran in January 2011 at the SHOT (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas by selling a knife branded to TV adventurer Bear Grylls and benefiting the Boy Scouts of America. Buy the pocket knife for $10 and proceeds benefit the BSA.

Columbia Sports Wear held six fashion shows during the 2011 show featuring willowy models and its tech-savvy outdoor wear. When you Tweeted a picture from one of the shows and included the hashtag #ORshowCA, they made a $5 donation to the Conservation Alliance.

Almost any trade show could do similar cause marketing promotions.

Here’s my good friend Scott Welch from Columbia explaining the pr…

Camelbak Announces New Cause Marketing Effort for

Camelbak did a cause marketing campaign with last year wherein the hydration company created a specially-branded version of its water bottles that the charity sold as a fundraiser. You may have seen Matt Damon,’s cofounder, telling David Letterman about the bottle during an appearance in December 2010.

Thanks in no small part to Damon’s celebrity and the pitch-perfect strategic fit between Camelbak and, new bottles are forthcoming. Later this month Camelbak will expand the relationship with a Facebook effort.

In an exclusive interview with at the Summer 2011 Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, here’s Shannon Stearns, senior marketing manager at Camelbak, to explain it.

Cause Marketing Sponsors Wanted to Help Save Millions of Lives

World Vision, the very able humanitarian organization, has an ambitious goal to End Malaria by 2015 and they’re at the mammoth Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show in Salt Lake City to drum up corporate support among outdoor retailers and brands.

I spoke with Angela Appleton, director of cause marketing at World Vision, and the cause is just. In the developing world malaria kills 2,000 kids a day or approximately 750,000 children a year (!), with Africa bearing the brunt of the scourge disease. World Vision's End Malaria website says that translates to $12 billion in lost economic productivity every year and serves to perpetuate poverty in the developing world.

World Vision wants to put an insecticide-treated mosquito net over every bed in the 62 malaria-endemic countries where World Vision has operations. Insecticides based on DDT eradicated malaria in the United States 60 years ago. But DDT is not an option now.

Insecticide-treated mosquito nets aren’t perfect, but they are ab…

Cause Marketing Signs at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show

Yesterday at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market was the Open Air demo. Today the indoor portion of the twice-annual show starts. So when I walked through the Salt Palace Convention Center on Wednesday the aisles were filled not with throngs of people but with the detritus of a giant trade show.

(Reminds me a little of the time when at a charity softball tourney I saw Larry King take his shirt off! :o )

Nonetheless, just walking around the trade show floor I already saw signs (literally) of cause marketing. Today I’ll pay visits to Sierra Designs, Bamboo Bottle Company, and dozens of more, plus nonprofits like WorldVision. And I’ll visit with friends at Eton, Columbia, and a handful more.

I’ll ask them about their cause marketing efforts, what they’re having success with and where cause marketing fits in terms of their overall marketing strategy. Stay tuned.

If you have questions for me to ask, Tweet them with the hashtag #ORcausemarketing or message me @paulrjones.

Cause Marketing at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show

Starting today in my fair city is the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, the trade show of the $10.85 billion Outdoor Industry Association. About 25,000 vendors, exhibitors, attendees and the media are expected. But only one person will be at the show covering cause marketing and corporate social responsibility campaigns and efforts by manufactures and retailers, and that’s yours truly.

I’ll snag interviews, get comments and talk to leaders about how they’re using cause marketing to give them strategic advantage in the growing outdoor industry. Then I’ll post them on the blog and at Twitter for you to read and watch.

Follow me here on the blog. My Twitter handle is @paulrjones. My hashtag for the event is #ORcausemarketing.

Finally, if there's question you have for anyone in the industry about cause marketing or corporate social responsibility, send them to on Twitter and I'll try and track them down.

Subscribe to the Cause Marketing GoogleGroup, Get a Cool Cause Marketing Tool

Kind Readers:

I’ve heard from a handful of people over the last few days about whether or not the Cause Marketing Blog has a newsgroup. Good news, it does!

It’s super-easy to subscribe. Simply send me your name and your email address to aldenkeene at gmail dot com.

And when you do each new post comes directly to your email every business day. As an inducement I’ll also send you a PDF copy of the "Five Flavors of Cause Marketing" which explains Cause-Related Marketing in an easy-to-follow matrix and includes examples.

It's a great brainstorming tool and helps ensure that your campaign has all the components appropriate for that flavor of Cause Marketing.

Your privacy is important to me, so be assured that I will never sell your name or email address.

One other bit of housekeeping: Some idiot… whose reflection looks a lot like me… accidentally deleted the last 25 comments made on the Cause Marketing blog. They’re totally unrecoverable and lost to the ether.

The buck stops here, s…

Cause Marketing: The All Packaging Edition

One way to activate a cause marketing campaign when the sponsor sells a physical product is on the packaging.

I started my career in cause marketing on the charity side and I can tell you that back in the day we were thrilled to get a logo on pack of a consumer packaged good (CPG) or even just a mention. Since then, there’s been a welcome evolution of what sponsors are willing and able to do with their packaging in order to activate their cause sponsorships.

That said, even today some sponsors don’t seem to have gotten the memo that when it comes to explaining your cause campaign, more really is more, even on something as small as a can or bottle.

The savviest sponsors realize that their only guaranteed means of reaching actual customers with a cause marketing message is by putting it on packaging. And the reach and frequency of the media on packaging for certain high-volume CPG items is almost certainly greater than radio, print or outdoor advertising, and, in many cases, TV.

More to the…