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 on the Suze Orman Show called, ‘Can I Afford It?’ The Suze Orman Show airs on CNBC.

On it people with plans to buy something that seems outwardly extravagant… a fancy dog, expensive landscaping, an exotic vacation, and the like… ask Orman if they can afford it. Orman, whose standard financial advice through her numerous books is to pay down debt and save eight-month’s worth of expenses before doing anything else, reviews the caller’s financial state on-air and then usually tells the caller that no, they can’t afford it.

So it seems surprising that the budget-minded Orman is endorsing a transactional cause marketing campaign. Now, to be fair, the shoes QVC features on the FFANY shoe sale are all said to be priced at 50% or more below retail.

But the Orman brand is about financial restraint, not saving money on purchases. And the headline, while cleverly addressing the inherent 'Cause-nitive Dissonance,' doesn’t change that.

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