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Showing posts from September, 2011

A Model Cause Marketing Tactic You Could Use in Your Campaign

Nine West, the women’s shoe maker and, the website for all things model, want you to sponsor one of the models in the ad at the left to benefit Fashion Targets Breast Cancer (FTBC) as a part of the cause promotion called Runway Relief.

In their Nine West boots are FitBit wireless pedometers measuring the mileage the girls cover during Fashion Week. When the week is up, Nine West will donate $1 for each mile walked in the boots up to $75,000.

In addition Nine West is also selling the totes, the tank tops and, naturellement, the boots featured in the ad to benefit FTBC.

It took me a good 15 minutes to find the model sponsorship page and once I found it the interface seemed calculated to keep you from actually participating. You have follow one link to a gallery of the participating models. When you click on a favorite model you are then taken to a third-party site to donate. Once there you must type in the model’s first and last name and pay via PayPal. I hope everyone with a…

Alignment and Affinity in Cause Marketing

It's been my pleasure to receive great advice from many people who asked nothing in return other than that I 'pay it forward.'

So if you're visiting the Valley of the Great Salt Lake or live here and would like to talk about cause-related marketing specifically, or marketing in general, then take me to lunch or dinner.

I'll give you my best advice and when we're done I'll simply push the tab over to your side of the table.

What if you’re not in Salt Lake City and/or don’t like to ski the Greatest Snow on Earth but still want to talk cause marketing? Then send me your questions on the back of $50 gift card from Ruth's Chris and I'll contemplate them over a nice ribeye steak.

Recently someone took me up on the first part of this offer and asked about affinity and alignment in cause marketing.

Here’s how the conversation played out:

For years the best conventional wisdom in cause marketing has been that you choose a cause based on ‘strategic philanthropy.’ I…

Cause Marketing for Smaller Causes and Businesses

We see evidence of big cause marketing all the time.

You know, cause marketing so massive… like the Red campaign or Boxtops for Education… that it seems to create its own gravity.

Plainly, when properly designed, cause marketing scales up very well, thank you very much.

But what about the little guys? Does cause marketing scale down as well as up?

Here’s why this is an important question. In the United States small businesses… generally companies with 500 or fewer employees… represent 99 percent of all businesses that have employees, and over the last 15 years, small businesses have generated 64 percent of all new jobs.

Small business is also really dynamic. Small businesses rise and fail quickly in round after round of Schumpeter-style ‘creative destruction.’

Likewise, most 501(c)(3) nonprofit charities in the United States are small. There’s only one American Red Cross with its $4 billion budget, but at least 1 million smaller charities.

Is cause marketing only for the top one percent of c…

Weaving Cause Marketing into Your Business Model

There’s probably five or so businesses that cubicle drones (and others) tend to dream of starting: a winery; a restaurant; a specialty retail store; a food business based on an old family recipe; or a toy business.

But look at something like the Inc 5000 and you’ll see tons of companies that perform some B2B function and relatively few that face the consumer, all those dreams notwithstanding.

But two brothers Chris and Will Haughey actually started a consumer-facing toy company whose success is due, in part, to the way they strategically wove cause marketing into their business model.

The company is Tegu, an eponym for Tegucigalpa, the capital city of of the Central American country Honduras where the toys are manufactured. Tegu makes wooden blocks of sustainably harvested hardwood that are stuffed with magnets. The result is a toy that’s more interesting to kids than just blocks, and the very opposite of something mind-dumbing, like Angry Birds.

Here’s the cause marketing part. When you …

Bringing a Reporter to a Pine Beetle Battle (With Apologies to Dr. Suess)

You’ve probably heard the old joke whose punch line talks about “bringing a knife to a gunfight.” The joke is about feckless approaches in hazardous situations.

In the fight to save forests from the ravages of the pine beetle, which has affected at least 2 million acres of conifer forests in the Western United States, the U.S. Forest Service has made a reporter their partner.

Perhaps you’ve seen news reports about the pine beetle epidemic. Here’s a recent one from my local newspaper if you haven’t read about it anywhere else.

It’s a story that hits close to home for me and my family. Many of my in-laws spent their formative years in and around Cedar Mountain in Southern Utah, where the devastation to the conifer forests due to pine beetles is widespread. When my father-in-law surveys the devastation to his boyhood playground, he’s heartbroken.

The U.S. Forest Service ran the ad above in the October issue of Outside magazine. It’s a slightly cheeky ad with a clear call to action: stop hugg…

Let's Bring Open Standards to the Practice Cause Marketing

If cause marketing is to really grow, I'm increasingly coming to the opinion that cause marketing needs the equivalent of an ‘open standard.’ When speaking of software especially, the term ‘open standards’ means an agreed-upon convention that is free and unconstrained in how it can be used.

Open standards are enormously valuable to you and me. HTML and XHTML are open standards. PDF is an open standard and your computer’s USB ports will accept anything with a USB plug because of open standards.

That you’re reading this post is because of an open standard called TCP-IP, which is the way website data is divided up into packets, transmitted, and then reassembled by servers somewhere near your computer or phone.

According to Wikipedia: Open Standards means “a published specification that is immune to vendor capture at all stages in its life-cycle.” Its more complete definition according to the Digital Standards Organization is:
“The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-p…

The Importance of the Match in Cause Marketing

In an interview yesterday a reporter asked me why the match between the cause and sponsor is so vital in cause marketing. After all, what if a local welding shop in a small town was doing some kind of cause marketing for the local school. Wouldn’t that be affinity enough?

My response went something like this: If you live a place where everyone knows your name it’s OK if the match between your firm and the cause is imperfect. People know your heart and are willing to give you a pass, whether or not they understand your cause marketing promotion.

But if you live in a population center where not everyone you do business with is an acquaintance, then the match between your company and the cause matters a lot.

My theory is that people just aren’t willing to invest the psychic energy it takes to figure out a lose affiliation between your company and the cause.

The ad at the left from Fortune magazine is a case in point.

The daredevil billionaire Sir Richard Branson, whose net worth is an estimat…

Racy Cause Marketing

On Sunday, Sept 18, 2011 the Goodyear tires on cars racing at the NASCAR Geico 400 and O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA National Top Fuel and Funny Car races featured a show of support for the troops and will benefit the nonprofit charity called Support Our Troops.

The tires, which sported a custom Support Our Troops graphic on the sidewalls, have now been pulled from the cars and will be autographed by their respective drivers and auctioned off online to support the cause.

This is the second year that Goodyear has conducted this campaign.

But for 2011 the company has added some new elements. Goodyear’s website asks you to donate directly via the site or by text-to-donate. The text-to-donate option generates a $10 donation by adding that amount to your mobile phone bill. Goodyear also invites customers to donate all or part of their rebate when they purchase tires during Goodyear's 'Traction in Action Tire Sale.’

Lastly, Goodyear has also developed an event that shows promise, even if…

Cause Marketing for the Hirsute

Cancer is a hairy beast that needs to be capped. And to help, Boston ad agency Small Army has put together a fun campaign that has potential lessons for nonprofit fundraisers.

Called ‘Be Bold, Be Bald!’ here’s how it works. Order a $20 fundraising kit online ($25 after October 1, 2011) and Small Army will send you a bald cap and, a t-shirt to wear on Be Bold, Be Bald! Day October 21, 2011, along with a wealth of fundraising resources. Money raised goes to your choice of more than 20 cancer fighting organizations.

Small Army wants you to seek out sponsors, like in one of those race events that nonprofits are so good at producing. But there’s no training involved so the only the only sweating will take place under the bald cap on October 21.

(Not being hirsute myself I'm quite sure that wearing a bald cap all day for me would indeed be a sweaty affair!)

Small Army has promoted the event widely and well. The ad above was in Time magazine. They’ve also put together a very complete fundrai…

IGA Stores Using Private Label Food Brands To Benefit Wounded Warriors Project

Now through November 11, 2011 participating IGA stores across the United States are offering $0.05 to the Wounded Warrior Project for each case of certain private label food brands sold.

This is an echo of a similar effort from participating IGA stores undertook for the Wounded Warrior Project from Memorial Day last May through Labor Day earlier this month. Only instead of private label foods it was for cases of IGA private label water and the donation amount was $0.10 per case.

In turn, that seemed influenced by a campaign Kroger did for breast cancer research in October 2010.

IGA is a huge buying and distribution cooperative for 5,000 member stores in 40 countries. The Wounded Warrior Project is a nonprofit charity that raises money and awareness for the nation’s injured service members. I became aware of this effort via a news announcement from the IGA in tiny Wendell, North Carolina, east of Raleigh.

I’ve been agitating for private label cause marketing in these pages since November 2…

Epic Cause Marketing In Six Words

In 2009 I wrote a post I called Cause Marketing in Six Words.

It was inspired by Rachel Ferschleiser and Larry Smith's book "Not Quite What I was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure."

It begins with a story about Ernest Hemingway who was once challenged to write a book in six words. He responded with: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

That's punchier and more pathos-filled than anything I've ever read on Twitter, my own account included. (My Twitter handle is @paulrjones).

Ferschleiser and Smith published many more of these evocative and diminutive tales following a contest on Twitter.

Here’s a select few:
“Danced in fields of infinite possibilities.”
Deepak Chopra“Brought it to a boil, often.”
Mario BataliAnd, two personal favorites…
“Found true love after nine months.”
Jody Smith“Wasn’t born a redhead; fixed that.”
Andie GraceHere’s my challenge to you cause marketers: develop a description of your campaign that comprises six words [or less!]. You’l…

Cause Marketing in a B2B Setting

Most cause marketing is aimed at consumers, but not all. B2B cause marketing takes place regularly, if not commonly. Here’s an intriguing B2B cause marketing offer from Zoomerang, the online survey company, benefiting schools or other organizations through

Here’s how works: When you buy $2,500 worth of Zoomerang services between Sept 13 and Sept 30, 2011, the company will send you via email a $100 GiveNow card from While Zoomerang is promoting this as a chance to give school supplies in time for back-to-school, the certificate could go to any of hundreds of thousands of organizations in the JustGive orbit.

I was prepared to really like this campaign until I read the fine print.

First off, the campaign time period is oddly short. It lasts 17 days.

Apparently whoever developed this campaign is a Virgo.

The offer is available only to people that Zoomerang or its affiliates approach. I saw this because I’m a Zoomerang customer. But you can’t take advant…

Back Door the National by Cause Marketing With the Affiliate

OK, you didn’t hear this from me. But if you want to get the boost that comes from partnering with a prominent national charity, but don’t want to jump through the hoops or pay their fat minimum fees, one work-around is to strike a deal with one of the national’s affiliates.

Affiliates are not only smaller (read, easier to navigate) than the mother ship, they may be hungrier too, because they have fundraising targets that national foists on them every year. Best of all the local affiliate still carries the same name as the national.

Let me be clear, this is NOT what Maytag is doing in this Facebook campaign. In fact, Maytag, a division of Whirlpool, pays the Boys and Girls Clubs of America… the national organization… $1.5 million a year through its Dependability Awards effort.

Maytag’s campaign asks you to nominate a person in your life who personifies dependability, the company’s long-time unique selling proposition. Meanwhile on the Facebook nomination page, Maytag highlights volunteer…

Can Suze Orman Afford to Do Cause Marketing?

Right now best-selling author and financial advice doyenne Suze Orman is appearing in ads on behalf of the QVC Channel’s annual Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY) shoe event, which benefits cancer research.

Now in its 18th year, the FFANY event takes place Thursday, October 13, 2011 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. FFANY’s website reports that the event has sold more than a million pairs of shoes and generated more than $35 million for a variety of cancer charities.

The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database has images of past spokespeople including Fergie, Jessica Simpson and Reba McEntire. The ads appear in women’s magazines including Cosmo, Elle, O, the Oprah Magazine, TV Guide, and elsewhere. I spotted this one in Redbook.

Usually the creative in the ads touches on the personal connection the celebrity has to cancer. But for Suze Orman the creative is an explicit seal of approval. The headline reads, “You’re Approved,” which is plainly a riff on the segment …

9-11 and Kaizen

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Like most other Americans, I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the news; I was having breakfast at Denny’s delivering a cause marketing proposal to a local official of the US Golf Association (USGA).

I have many friends/family in New York and Washington D.C. both who were personally affected by the attacks.

After a paroxysm of watching 9/11 memorials and television specials this last week or so, and reading about the attacks from every possible viewpoint, I've concluded that Americans are still struggling to understand what it all means. Was it just a terrorist attack? A wake-up call? A finger of indictment pointing back at America?

My wife and I have children who were unborn when the attacks took place. And so it falls to us to explain to them what it means us in ways they can fathom. Frankly, we’ve struggled with that.

There are bad people in this world who mean to do harm to other people. That part of the story i…

What Dumb PR Pitches Can Teach Smart Cause Marketers

Yesterday in conversation with a new friend in India I learned that I am ‘quite famous’ in India. India is the worlds’ second most populous country, as well as the most populous democracy so it’s a very good place to be famous in. Maybe my new-found renown explains the volume of pitches I get from people who want coverage in this blog (few of which are from India, I hasten to add).

There’s a name for these people. When they send me helpful pitches that are pertinent to I call them PR angels. When they pitch me ideas that are off-topic, over-long, just plain dumb, or addressed to “Dear Alden,” I just call them idiots. (I think it’s clear from a cursory reading of the blog that my name is Paul Jones and that my company’s name is Alden Keene.) And I’m not talking about spam here either. Everybody on earth with an email account… and increasingly a mobile phone… gets spam.

Editors and reporters have started to out the idiots. Heck, even PR people are outing the idiots. It&…

4 Cause Marketing Campaigns, 3 Causes, 1 Day

On Wednesdays in my market all the major grocers insert their flyer in the local newspaper. Yesterday all of them save WalMart had a cause marketing element in their respective flyers.

Here’s a review of each:

Smith’s is owned by grocery giant Kroger, WalMart’s largest domestic grocery competitor. Their campaign benefits the USO, the charity that aids members of the military and their families and now celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The USO reusable bag is an extension of a campaign for the USO Kroger announced in July, 2011. Participating stores have coin donation canisters at check stands and/or ask customers to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar to benefit the USO. The full campaign lasts one year with a goal of raising $1 million. A limited promotion with Procter & Gamble has already generated $250,000.

In addition, the #47 Kroger NASCAR features USO branding this season and Kroger locations with medical clinics called ‘The Little Clinic’ donated $1 for each sports p…

Lady Gaga Raises $202 Million for MAC AIDS Fund, Forbes Reports

~Let's Put Her to Work Paying Down the Deficit!~

Currently on newsstands is Forbes magazine’s '100 Most Powerful Women' issue and there at number 11 is Lady Gaga, whose blurb tells us that she is 25, that she ‘banked $90 million last year’ and ‘raised $202 million to fight HIV/AIDS through MAC’s VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lipgloss sales.”

Holy Simoleans, Batman. $202 million?!!! That makes Lady Gaga the most effective single cause marketer ever given that she’s only been in the public eye for about three years. How did I miss this amazing cause marketing story?

In fact, the truth is a little ‘more nuanced,’ as the politicians like to say, even if Gaga may really turn out to be among the greatest cause marketers ever.

John Demsey, group president of The Estee Lauder Companies, which has owned MAC since 1997 and who chairs the MAC AIDS campaign, introduced some reality in an interview with the Wall Street Journal recorded February 18, 2011.

The MAC AIDS Fund raises money for people w…

The People Who Communicate Corporate Social Responsibility Can't Make a Business Case For It

Been going through my voluminous electronic files of studies about cause marketing and corporate social responsibility (CSR) and I came across again a 2008 poll of corporate communicators that found they want their companies to engage in more CSR; they just can’t come up with a good business reason for doing so or decide who should drive it.

The poll, from Ragan Communications and Pollstream follows a 2008 study from IBM (covered in this space), that reported that corporate executives want to see more CSR, too, and were devoting resources to it.

The poll was part of a series from Ragan that regularly queries some 425+ corporate communicators in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

The communicators split almost evenly over the issue of who should run a company’s CSR efforts. Just about 50 percent said it should be a standalone department that reports directly to the CEO. The other 50 percent said CSR should fall under either media relations, internal communicatio…

Farewell, Jerry Lewis

There’s an old story… perhaps even true… told about Winston Churchill at a party. Another guest reproves him saying, “Winston, you are drunk.” He responds, the story goes, by saying, “yes madam, and you are ugly. But tomorrow I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”

We laugh at that line because it evidences Churchill’s famous wit and self-composure. But, let’s be honest, that remark has barbs. It stings! Churchill was a great man, but he wasn’t always a nice man.

The same, I think, can be said of Jerry Lewis, the man who last night on 4 September 2011 was denied any chance to appear on the MDA Telethon that he helped start and make famous. Apparently Jerry was scheduled to appear in a taped segment singing his signature song 'You'll Never Walk Alone.' But even that was stymied at the last minute, reports say.

I’ve been hard on Lewis in these pages. As a marketer I always thought he was always too closely enmeshed with the branding of the Muscular Dystrophy Association… ‘…

The First Country Band of Cause Marketing?

U2 gets my vote as the best cause marketers in rock and roll based on their efforts on behalf of [RED] and Bono’s own cause-marketed clothing line called ‘Edun.’

But which country act earns honors as the best country music cause marketers?

If you twisted my arm today I’d say the Zac Brown Band.

Marketing bands and their music these days is a whole lot different than it was when the labels did all the promotions (and took the lion's share of the revenue). File sharing changed all that.

When anyone can find your music for free on the file sharing websites, you can't rely on download sales alone for all your revenue. The resulting lower profit margins for the labels demands that bands assume greater responsibility for their own promotion. For the very smartest bands these new revenue models can actually be more lucrative.

The Zac Brown Band, a country music act, uses cause marketing as a part of its promotional mix.

Regular readers will remember that back in July 2010 Dodge spons…

Cause Marketing Our Thanks

Starting today you can use the We&Co smartphone app to thank firefighters, police officers and other first responders who distinguished themselves by their bravery, sacrifice and service during the attacks of 9/11 ten years ago in partnership with The New York Says Thank You Foundation. The goal is to generate 10,000 ‘thanks’ through the We&Co app.

We&Co is a location-based mobile app in the vein of Foursquare or Yelp. Only instead of rallying to sites to collect badges or grade meals, We&Co helps you to rate favorite service providers: a barista, stylist, bartender, waitress, and the like.

We&Co takes the emphasis off the place and puts it on the people. It’s the anti-Groupon, We&Co co-founder Jared Malan told Good, because instead of being drawn by discount prices people will come to establishments for outstanding service.

Service providers end up with their own ratings, which has the potential to become a kind of social currency. For that reason We&Co pu…