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I Don’t Hate All the Cause Marketing I See. Honest.

I looked back at my posts over the last few weeks and found little enthusiasm and a lot of criticism of the cause marketing efforts I’ve seen lately.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m like the drunk test performed on Steve Martin in the 1983 movie “The Man with Two Brains.” Martin’s character, who is in Germany, gets pulled over by the polizei and given a sobriety test that requires him to stretch out his arms and touch his nose, walk a straight line and then return doing a two-handed and one-handed handstand, perform cartwheels and backflips, and then juggle and tap dance while singing a German song.

Martin pauses before undertaking that last part and says to the police officer, “…damn your drunk tests are hard.”

Watch the clip here.

What can I say? Everyone thinks that cause marketing is easy. And it is. If you’re the type who can juggle, tap dance, and sing at the same time.

So gird up. Because I’m going to be hard on another cause marketing sponsor.

The weekly sales flyer for Fresh Markets, a local grocery chain, included the inset image at the left. Libby’s, which produces canned vegetables, is asking for help for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. Buy an extra can of Libby’s vegetables and they’ll go local Habitat for Humanity families so that they “can enjoy a meal together.”

It’s a subset of Libby’s “Get Back to the Table” promotion. The website lists a number of reasons why family mealtime is vitally important. As a father of young children, I buy that argument.

But what, pray tell, does any of this have to do with Habitat for Humanity, which Libby’s apparently supports here in my market and elsewhere across the country?

The copy just can’t draw the connection.

Is a connection possible between Libby’s and Habitat?

Could be. Libby’s could frame this as a way to stock the pantries of new Habitat home move-ins. Or maybe there’s a statistic that says Habitat families experience greater food need in the Fall. Or that socio-economic realities tear harder at the fabric of Habitat families more than most, so dinner-time is vital in more ways than one.

Instead, Libby’s just drops its Back to the Table effort into the grocer’s ad, slaps on a Habitat logo and says to consumers, ‘you figure it out.’

Good luck with that.

And don’t get me started on the sad-sack image of the little girl…


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