1 Exemplary Cause Marketing Effort, 4 Activations

Last Saturday found me Christmas shopping and in two very different retail settings I came across examples of St. Jude’s Thanks + Giving effort, which are integrated in an exemplary fashion.

At the left is an ad from Entertainment Weekly magazine for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which activates the Thanks + Giving effort with the call to action, “This Holiday, give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.”

Sponsors support their participation in Thanks + Giving with in-store promotions. I bought the gift card at the left at my nearby Old Navy where I had a choice between several versions of these kids’ art cards. Aside from the gift cards, the Old Navy I went to had little else that demonstrated their support of Thanks + Giving.

By contrast, at AutoZone where I picked up a new lamp for my car’s headlights, Thanks + Giving was evident in several places. The front doors had a window cling that announced AutoZone’s support. Likewise, there was a printed screen-surround for all the computer monitors at the front counter that invited people to make a donation.

That screen surround served to remind the parts clerks to ask for a donation. But since the monitors turn around to display information to customers, the surrounds were also meant for customers as well.

Dick’s Sporting Goods also supports Thanks + Giving with in-store promotional material. But they also advertise the promotion on their weekly flyer, as seen at the left.

The reason why St. Jude is supporting Thanks + Giving with advertising while sponsors activate the campaign in-store is to create synergy and momentum for the campaign. One of the oldest rules of advertising and promotion is that almost no one buys after the first mention. It is only by dripping away at people that you can hope to reach them at the time they’re ready to make a purchase or donation decision.

St. Jude’s ads demonstrate that it is an active partner in the promotion. It’s not just a free-rider lapping up the publicity spilled from the dishes of its deep-pocketed corporate partners.

Trouble is, by itself St. Jude can’t profitably do enough advertising to really move the sales needle for its partners or donations for itself.

But every day hundreds of thousands of people will walk through the doors of Thanks + Giving’s retail partners. Once in the doors there’s little external advertising that could influence those potential customers. So signs, screen surrounds, and employees who mention the company’s participation in Thanks + Giving are the last influencers.

Cable and telecommunications companies talk about the last mile of their network. It’s a reference to the expense and challenge of getting cable or telecommunications services into the home or business.

In a like manner, the last 100 meters for a retailer comes once a prospect is in the store. Cause marketing efforts like Thanks + Giving or Macy’s Believe campaign can bring people into a retail setting. But for cause marketing to influence purchasing decisions once there, the customer either has to know about it, be reminded of it, or learn about it inside the store.

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