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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 for $1 at a charity event there.

That’s one of the problems with national charities taking on athletes as their spokespeople; rare is the player... active or retired... who can transcend his own fanbase.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association has its annual Telethon coming up in a few weeks the Sunday before Labor Day. The MDA has already announced that Founder Jerry Lewis won’t be hosting. And so for the last several months the MDA has been advertising the roster of replacement hosts, among them Nancy O’Dell, Allison Sweeney, and Tom Bergeron.

NFL legend Kurt Warner, seen above in one of those ads, will have an undefined on-camera role, the MDA’s press release says.

Warner is very likeable and a straight shooter whose charitable inclinations ring genuine. He’s got a wonderful personal story. And he came with a hairsbreadth of bringing a Super Bowl trophy to my beloved Phoenix Cardinals before Ben Roethlisberger pulled off some last-second heroics in Super Bowl XLIII.

But admirable and likeable as Warner is, he’s just not a draw for the MDA outside of Phoenix and St. Louis, where he spent his early career.


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Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Cause-Related Marketing Meets Microfinance and Mix it Up

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Actually that first sentence is hyperbole. Because even in Ulaanbaatar… far from almost anywhere on the vast, frigid steppes of Mongolia… microfinance is thriving such that the earliest recipients of micro loans there are now complaining about taxes and government bureaucracy! And May 29-31, 2008 the Conference of Microfinance Institutions will convene in Ulaanbaatar, the eleventh such annual conference.
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Cause Marketing Beer with BOGO, Brew One Give One

On Monday’s post I touched on the topic of telling people what your cause marketing campaign accomplished when completed. I’ve recommended this approach to clients as a way to keep open the lines of communication with customers and clients and to get extra value from the campaign.

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.

But what if that really cuts across the grain in your organization? What if it’s just not in your corporate DNA to do anything but to frontload your cause marketing activation? Well, then, add the report back to the activation of your next cause marketing effort.

New Belgium Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colorado, said to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States, did just that with this ad in Sunset magazine. I found this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

New Belgium donates $1 for every barrel it brews and sells. It’s a BOGO cause marketing effort, Buy One Give One. …