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Showing posts from January, 2012

Outside Magazine's 'Best Places to Work' and Cause Marketing

The electrons were barely dry on yesterday’s post about cause marketing and Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list when I got an email from a friend in the outdoor business. ‘What about us?’ she asked.

Indeed Outside magazine also publishes an annual list of the ’50 Best Places to Work.’ Outside’s list is based on surveys of employee benefits, compensation, policies, job satisfaction, environmental initiatives, community-service programs and more.

More than either the Fortune list or the list from Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Outside’s list is made up of very small companies. Take away Eddie Bauer and Chesapeake Energy and no other company on the list has even 1,000 employees.

Not surprisingly because of the emphasis that Outside puts on community service and environmental initiatives, this list also features a number of firms that do cause marketing.

By my count, four of the top ten and 23 overall use cause marketing as a part of their marketing mix. The full…

Cause Marketing and Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For List

Fortune magazine just published its annual “100 Best Companies to Work for” list and I wondered, how many of these companies are also known for their cause marketing?

Regular readers know that I have found a strong correlation between the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship 2011 CSR Index and whether or not the company was active in cause marketing.

By my reckoning six of the BCCCC CSR List made the top ten and 33 of the 50 companies listed did at least some cause marketing.

Fortune’s ‘100 Best’ list is a little trickier when it comes to cause marketing. Cause marketing almost always faces the consumer, but a good number of companies on Fortune’s list are B2B. There’s several law firms for instance, and multiple energy companies and construction firms.

Moreover, Fortune’s list includes a number of companies that are either regional in their focus or otherwise unfamiliar to me. Which is another way of saying that they may be cause marketers and I just don’t know about it.

Those …

Responding to Outside Magazine's Article on

The February 2012 issue of Outside magazine has a critical assessment of LiveStrong, Lance Armstrong’s anti-cancer foundation and I feel obliged to respond to it.

The first criticism is that LiveStrong no longer donates to cancer research efforts and instead has transitioned itself into a role as kind of information conduit for people fighting cancer. Livestrong is now primarily a cancer awareness-raising charity.

The problem is that some of the charity’s supporters still promote Livestrong as a cancer research charity. That, of course, is wrong and supporters should depict Livestrong's mission honestly and forthrightly.

Livestrong began phasing out of hard science research funding in 2005 because the charity's board didn’t feel like it could make a big enough dent in cancer research. Armstrong survived two bouts with testicular cancer.

A second problem, says the author of the article, Bill Gifford, is that Armstrong wears Livestrong around him as a kind of armor against the darts…

OluKai Cause Markets For Local Cause at Outdoor Retailer Show

Trade shows are a natural for cause marketing because there are so many like-minded people under one roof. For instance, at the Outdoor retailer show that took place last week in my small State of Utah, the show was right around the 30th largest city in the State!

I almost always suggest to clients that if they’re going to do cause marketing at a trade show that they consider doing it on behalf of cause in the city where the show is being held. In so doing they have the chance to leave legacy that can long outlast the show.

OluKai, a footwear company, has real bon fides when it comes to cause marketing, corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. Every year the company sends employees and others to Hawaii to help the nonprofit Maui Cultural Lands reforest the island and stabilize archeological sites.

But during the run of the show, OluKai held a pro sales event every day at 5pm and sent the proceeds to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. Pro sales means that it targets the peop…

Made in America Cause Marketing

Liberty Bottleworks fabricates rugged water bottles in brand-new factory in Yakima, Washington of recycled aluminum and using America-made machinery. Liberty is the only company making metal water bottles in America today.

While that sinks in a little consider that Liberty also has a strong cause marketing component with its partner Big City Mountaineers (BCM), a Denver nonprofit that gives urban kids a wilderness experience that often proves to be life-changing.

The night before my interview with Alex Strickland of Liberty at the 2012 Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City the company hosted a beer bash that raised $2000 for BCM.

During the Summer Outdoor Retailer show in August 2011, Liberty released a bottle featuring BCM's logo which benefited the nonprofit. This year the BCM benefit bottle (at left) was designed by Yakima graffiti artist Bernardo Boeragor.

Liberty pledges to do a new benefit bottle for BCM every year.

The company also produces a series of bottles imprinted …

Nike Vet Keeps Bike Inner Tubes Out of the Landfill and Benefits the Humane Society

Paul Fidrych left a promising career at Nike to start a business with his wife that takes old bike inner tubes and upcycles them into useful things like dog collars, chew toys and water dishes. All while benefiting the Humane Society chapter in Portland. The company is cleverly named Cycle Dog.

To me that business model sounded like the much-heralded company TerraCycle, which upcycles juice pouches, for instance, into brightly-colored messenger bags.

When I suggested that analogy, Paul politely told me that Cycle Dog positions itself as the leading US recycled pet supply company. Cycle Dog is laser-focused on the pet market.

Listen now to this interview with Paul at the 2012 Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City as he talks about Cycle Dog's products, how they keep inner tubes out of the landfill, how they benefit the Humane Society, and how to crack open a cold one with man’s best friend.

Teva’s BOGO Cause Marketing Returns Company's Philanthropy to its Watery Origins

Teva, the footwear company, started out making sandals for Colorado River Guides. And at its founding in 1984, Teva supported the nonprofit Save the Colorado, as it still does today. But as the company grew the footprint of its corporate philanthropy got ever-wider and more diffuse.

No one likes to say to worthy causes with compelling stories, after all.

But in this exclusive interview on the topic with the cause marketing blog, Jaime Eschette, the company’s long-time public relations manager told me that with the company’s current cause marketing effort… called A Pair for a Foot… the company returns to its watery heritage.

With every pair of Teva’s purchased in 2011 and 2012, the company and its partners will protect a linear foot of river, lake and ocean waterways, with a goal of protecting 4.3 million linear feet of water. It's a Buy One, Give One (BOGO) with a twist.

The effort includes employees, retailers, and volunteers as well as cash donations to the partner causes. The key p…

Cause Marketing Your Athletic Performance

In the 1926 World Series Babe Ruth heard about 11-year-old Johnny Sylvester, a New York boy who had been hurt in an accident and was in the hospital desperately ill. The Babe rushed to the hospital to visit Sylvester and promised to hit a home run on his behalf. The next day the Sultan of Swat hit not one but three home runs for the youngster. Sylvester rallied, went to Princeton, served in World War II, had a successful business career, and died in 1990 at the age of 74, a lifelong Yankee fan.

(That's Johnny and the Babe at the left).

Good causes, it seems to the founders of New York City-based company Charity Bets, can be a terrific performance enhancers.

Now Charity Bets is betting that people are willing to wager their athleticism against their friends' scepticism!

Here’s how it works: You set a performance goal for a race event; triathlon, marathon, bike race, 10K, etc. Then you solicit pledges from your network of friends that you’re willing to bet them that you’ll hit some …

Cause Marketing Your Birthday

My birthday is in February and recently I got the notice at the left from Crowdrise, a free online platform and social media site that helps you raise money for causes you care about.

It’s similar, in several respects, to the friends and family fundraising platform that comes your way when you sign up to participate in a race event on behalf of Komen, the American Diabetes Association or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The difference is that with Crowdrise you decide what the cause is and how to make your case for it.

You can also be sure that Susan G. Komen for the Cure spent a darn sight more on their back-end software than did Crowdrise. That’s not a dig on Crowdrise or Komen as much as it is recognition that in the Internet age a lot of software which used to cost a fortune no longer does.

Because Crowdrise is independent of any single charity it feels more organic. You direct the effort, determine timelines, goals, messaging and the like. You’re not just another cog in a giant fu…

Cause Marketing the Auto Shows

It’s prime auto show season right now across the country. The two biggest shows, the Detroit auto show is going on right now, while the Chicago show is coming up in early February. My home state’s much more modest show took place last weekend.

(At left is a Subaru, which offers its own cause marketing effort called Share the Love.)

All of which begs the question, how might auto shows utilize cause marketing in their promotional mix?

Here’s a few ideas:

Imagine a Rosy the Riveter kind of look with messaging that says, in effect, "Let's put the State/Region back to work."

Then in partnership with local micro-lenders when someone gets approved for a micro-loan during the promotional period, they are also entered into a drawing for a truck/car for their business from the car show’s sponsoring dealer’s association.

The drawing, of course, would take place during the car show in front of a lot of cameras.

If you really wanted to doll it up, you could present it as a version of those …

Kroger’s Giving Hope a Hand Campaign is Gaining Momentum

Kroger’s Giving Hope a Hand campaign, an anti-breast cancer effort is gaining momentum for much the same reasons that General Mills’ Boxtops for Education and Campbell’s Labels for Education have; it’s opened up the effort to other brands.

That is, Giving Hope a Hand… like Campbell’s Labels for Education and General Mills Boxtops for Education… has made the leap from its exclusive relationship with Kroger to including the participation of other brands, including Dannon’s Activa brand of yogurt, Freschetta pizza, Kraft cheese, Pepsi, Purina, Windex, and Ziploc, among others.

(Parenthetically, it’s interesting to note that other Dannon brands participate in Labels for Education. Ziploc also participates in Boxtops for Education! Kraft, of course, also does a prominent cause marketing effort on behalf of Feeding America).

At the left are the front and back panels of a box of Keebler’s Town House crackers that I saw in December 2011, but which certainly predated that time period. The Keebler…

The Cause Marketing Script

Current theory from Professor Ronald K. Mitchell at Texas Tech suggests that the people most likely to be a success at entrepreneurship are those who understand that there is an ‘entrepreneurship script.’

I contend that there is also a script in cause marketing.

In entrepreneurship the script, says Mitchell (who like Bob McDonald, the CEO of Procter & Gamble, and yours truly is an alumnus of the University of Utah) is “commonly recognized sequences of events that permit rapid comprehension of expertise-specific information by experts; mental representations of the causality-connected actions, props, and participants that are involved in common activities.”

I’ve cherry-picked from Professor Mitchell’s paper to come up with a list of attributes that I think characterize the best cause marketers:
They have a great base of domain knowledge of cause marketingThey are predisposed to action They are deliberate network buildersThey recognize changes and know how to exploit them They have a gr…

One (Bronx) Cheer for Philanthropist Kim Kardashian

Fox News reports that reality star Kim Kardashian is pocketing 90 percent of the money raised from her eBay Giving Works auctions.

The auctions ostensibly benefit the Dream Foundation, which grants wishes to terminally-ill adults. Kardashian's father died of cancer. But Fox found that only 10 percent of the money actually went to the cause, something she states openly on her blog when promoting the auctions.

Ten percent is the minimum Giving Works allows.

Most of the items are from the Kardashian’s collection of fashion apparel. Fox reports past items have included:
A Herve Leger dress.The robe she wore on “Dancing With the Stars.” A pair of Christian Louboutin Nude Patent Platform Pumps. A Rock Stella & Jamie Cropped Faux Fur Vest. A pair of Balenciaga White Leather Peep-toe Platform Heels.In effect Kadashian, a multi-millionaire has figured out a way to monetize the churn of her wardrobe inventory. All with the gloss of charity.

My headline says one cheer for Kim and that’s becau…

Finding More Donors With the Ultimate Question

A couple of years back I sat in on a very interesting presentation by Ryan Davies of Progrexion, a multi-disciplinary marketing research firm.

One of Progrexion’s house specialties is customer satisfaction surveys, one of the more dreary parts of marketing research. You know what I mean if you’ve ever been subjected to a customer satisfaction survey that runs 4 pages single-spaced in about 9-point type. Completing those surveys can be like that scene in the Dustin Hoffman movie Marathon Man when Sir Lawrence Olivier plays the Mengele-like ex-Nazi dentist Dr. Christian Szell who extracts information by pulling teeth.

But Progrexion draws from the work of author and Bain consultant Fred Reichheld to come up with a much more streamlined and painless approach. Reichheld wrote the 2006 book “The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth.”

Reichheld maintains that under pressure to meet growth targets modern corporate managers are going after the wrong customers and doing so badl…

Cause Marketing Circa 2022

The current issue of Fortune magazine, modestly called 'The Future Issue,' examines what the world and the world of business will be like ten years hence in 2022.

Fortune’s prognosticators see video projected on every window surface, 3-D printers on every desktop, smart holographic table tops as in the movie Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, real-time subtitles for teleconferences, and apps that help you put together your ideal office work group. (That's an Eden 3D printer on the left, although it's not exactly a desktop model.)

Conspicuous by its absence is any mention of nonprofits, although Fortune does see people working later in life thanks to new miracle drugs and treatments for chronic conditions like arthritis. Great, I get to work for years to come!

But it set me to thinking; what’s the 10-year future of cause marketing, nonprofit fundraising and corporate social responsibility?

I put on my Merlin cap and came up with these three ideas:
Big Data and Cause Marketi…

Amazon, I'm Calling You Out

In 2011, Amazon’s sales were $43.59 billion and its profit was $7.64 billion. It is the world’s biggest etailer. That's part of their Seattle headquarters at the left.

And how much did Amazon donate to charity? It's not clear. Although I suspect that MercyCorps and the Red Cross have both received meaningful donations from

We do, however, know that spent $1.5 million in lobbying in 2011, and more than $21 million since 2001. Likewise, we know that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s billionaire founder and chief executive, his mother and father, and his wife, author Mackenzie Bezos, have given more than $28,000 to Washington Senator Patty Murray (D) since 2009.

Amazon’s website reports that its “customers have contributed more than $35 million to global relief programs since 2001.” But Amazon’s piece of that is probably in-kind only.

A statement at says:
“We… contribute to the communities where our employees and customers live. Our contributions can be seen in ma…

What I Learned When I Bought a Starbuck Indivisible Wristband

Since November 1, 2011 Starbucks has been doing its best to help boost the economy via a cause marketing standard; the wristband.

'Indivisible' wristbands are $5 at 6,800 company-operated stores in the United States.

All the money goes to the Opportunity Finance Network, an umbrella group of 180 Community Development Financial Institutions, which specialize in making loans to small businesses. Starbucks seeded the effort with a $5 million donation.

Studies suggest that new businesses in particular are the ones most likely to generate jobs.

(Parenthetically, another company that started small and grew big, the Boston Beer Company, which makes Samuel Adams beer, has offered a small business mentorship and financing effort called Brewing the American Dream since June 2008).

Since all this has been well-covered elsewhere in great depth, I want to describe the exemplary way the transaction took place when I bought mine late 2011 at a nearby Starbucks.

The wristbands at my Starbucks were …

Cause Marketing en Español

Late last year Walgreens ran the paper icon campaign at the left benefiting its long-time partner the American Diabetes Association in English on one side and Spanish on the other.

Walgreens is the giant drugstore/C-store chain with more than 8,000 locations coast-to-coast.

Such efforts are old hat in Canada, which is officially bilingual. But I can’t remember seeing any other paper icon efforts Stateside that came in two or more languages.

The potential payoff is efficiency: Walgreens/ADA only has to print one paper icon to reach two separate cultures.

But I doubt it will pay off. For one, the shape, design and colors make the icon easy to miss, no matter your culture. It’s rather blah.

Then there’s the interesting issue of which side to display at the register.

In big chunks of the Southwest and Florida you’d probably want to display the icon Spanish side up, and English side up in most of the rest of the country.

Except that even here in the Mountain States, where I live, there’s a substa…

More Cause Marketing Mashedup With Games in 2012

One trend I expect to see more of in 2012 is the mashup of cause marketing and video/computer games.

Certainly the market is huge.

The Entertainment Software Association reports that 72 percent of American households play computer/video games. And it’s not just teens and preteens. The average game player is age 37. And while video/computer game players are more likely to be male than female, across the board 42 percent of players are female (which is about the same gender mix as the NFL's audience).

That it’s a 60:40 male to female strikes me as a positive for some businesses and causes. Men can be a hard audience to reach, especially if you can’t afford the premiums that come with sponsoring professional sports or buying sports television airtime.
Cause marketing has already been successfully undertaken by Zynga, makers of Farmville and Mafia Wars on behalf of the victims of the Haiti Earthquake of 2010. In 2011, they did another relief effort on behalf the victims of the Japanese e…

The Worst Cause Marketing of 2011

Pathology, that is trying to figure out what went wrong, is both fun and entertaining. Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of the CSI franchise on television among many other production credits, personally made $113 million! in 2011 thanks in part to our fascination with the pathology of crime.

Even when it comes to cause marketing this fascination with the bad is strong. Many more people find the Cause Marketing Blog because they searched on ‘bad cause marketing’ and similar search terms than found it by searching for ‘good cause marketing’ and equivalent terms. Yesterday's post, was my annual list of the best cause marketing of 2011.

You asked for it, so here it is listed in order of the date of the original post; The 10 Worst Cause Marketing Efforts of 2011:
Faux Cause Marketing Ad From Groupon Bombs on Super Bowl. After watching Groupon’s first Super Bowl ad campaign, all I could do was scratch my head and ask; “Holy crap, what was Groupon thinking?” They ran two ads: one started out loo…

The Best Cause Marketing of 2011

One of the things I love about cause marketing is also one of the things I love about my wife; it (like she) continues to surprise me. Here are 10 cause marketing efforts or campaigns, culled from more than 200 posts in 2011, that were cool or fun or smart or effective or innovative or surprising. And sometimes all of those adjectives at once!

Here in date order of the original post are my top eleven Best Cause Marketing Efforts of 2011.Instant-On Cause Marketing for Earthquake Relief.In March I was wowed by an instant-on cause marketing effort from Infinity on behalf of the American Red Cross for the victims of the Tōhoku earthquake that arrived in my email box less than 6 days after the quake rocked Japan’s northern islands. Cause marketing has its failings and one of them is that picking causes, figuring donation amounts, concepting and messaging, and clearing legal can take so darn much time. In cases like Haiti earthquake in January 2010 and Tōhoku in March 2011, time is of the es…