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Making Christmas the Most Wonderful Time of the Cause Marketing Year

As a holiday, Christmas is surprisingly challenging to cause market around, but a local homebuilder has the bones of a good campaign based on a gingerbread house-building contest that could be duplicated almost anywhere.

Cause marketing is commonly linked to holidays. I’ve even argued in this space that the pink ribbon campaigns offer retailers, in effect, an extra selling season.

But with some notable exceptions, like Christmas benefit albums, the redoubtable Salvation Army bell ringers and a few Christmas festivals scattered across the country, Christmas cause marketing isn’t as common as you might expect, even though for most of America’s charities the end of the year is when a hearty chunk of funds are raised.

There’s reasons of course.

Unlike Valentine’s Day, to name another holiday selling season, Christmas in the United States is for many still a holy day, notwithstanding all the commercialization. And it tends to be a very busy time with family and friends.

But think of all the potential advantages Christmas holds for cause marketers and fundraisers.
  • Christmas is a time of giving.
  • There’s countless potential ‘hooks;’ Santa and his elves, Christmas trees, bells, carols, holly, brass bands, mistletoe, candy canes, reindeer, etc.
  • It comes at the end of the year when Americans are mindful of tax deductions.
And a Christmas festival based on gingerbread houses has great potential, even if it’s not yet widely exploited.

The gingerbread house campaign in question asks you to build a gingerbread house patterned after a home model built by Ivory Homes. The top prize is $1,000 for you and $1,000 for your charity of choice.

The campaign, which benefits United Way of Salt Lake, is direct, easy to explain and understand, and appropriate to the sponsor.

Good for Ivory for charging admission to the event.

Since one of Ivory’s goals is almost certainly to drive traffic to their many developments, they might consider some kind of round-robin ‘tournament’ that begins at four or eight their developments before culminating at the larger event where the winners would be crowned. The gingerbread houses that get the most fan or judges votes (or some combination of the two) moves on to the next round.

Ivory should probably also consider divisions for children say ages 5-8, and 9-12. I can imagine a men’s division, even a division for professional chefs and bakers, and a people’s choice award. To involve its own staff, Ivory could even challenge its own construction crews, vendors and contractors to build gingerbread-style children’s playhouses and then auction them off to benefit United Way.

This campaign cries out for social media elements as well.

And notwithstanding what I wrote yesterday about the tawdry way Skechers stole TOMS Shoes branding and cause marketing approach, there's nothing wrong or immoral about basing a Christmas fundraiser/cause marketing promotion around gingerbread houses.


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