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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 MyCokeRewards.com 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 mycokerewards.com/sprite and it could receive a $25,000 grant to become a ‘Sprite Spark Park.’ Formatted as a sweepstakes, Sprite will award grants to 25 schools to improve their play areas. The sweepstakes ends 30 September, 2011.

According to Alexa.com, MyCokeRewards.com is the 4735th most-trafficked website on the Internet and 828th in the United States. That compares favorably to Delta.com which hosts my SkyMiles card and Marriott.com/rewards, and is orders of magnitude higher than Kroger.com, with whom I have a rewards card.

MyCokeRewards.com gets so much traffic it takes advertising from non-competing brands! (I was surprised and delighted to see a banner ad from Snickers candy bars for its ‘Bar Hunger’ campaign benefiting the anti-hunger charity Feed America!)

Sprite Spark Park is not Coke’s first or only foray into the mash up of loyalty programs and cause marketing. You can donate your MyCokeRewards points to schools, which can redeem them for items from a small catalog of school supplies.

You can also donate MyCokeRewards points in several denominations to the American Cancer Society, the National Parks Foundation, the USO, and The Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

I was aware of MyCokeRewards.com cause efforts in a generic way, but seeing this rewards program/cause marketing campaign mashup has raised my consciousness. And I can now see a number of ways that cause marketing and loyalty programs could benefit each other.

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