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Joint-Issue Promotion in Cause Marketing

Usually I highlight transactional-style cause marketing in this space, but there are other possible relationships including ‘joint-issue promotion,’ a category suggested by Wymer and Sumu in their book Nonprofit and Business Sector Collaboration.

By that they mean a sponsor promoting various aspects of a cause outreach effort or mission. It’s especially common among health charities and pharmaceutical companies.

After all, Pfizer, which makes the best-selling drug Lipitor, may well have a vested interest in outreach efforts from American Heart Association meant to lower cholesterol.

At left are two examples of cause marketing based on joint-issue promotion.

Camelbak has a cool new water bottle that features a UV light in the cap. Fill the bottle with water, press the button and in a minute the UV light kills the bacteria, viruses and protozoa in the water.

It goes without saying, I suppose, that if you put muddy water in the bottle the UV light doesn’t do anything about eliminating any silt or dirt. So you may still need to filter water first. But what a potential boon this is to people traveling where water purity is in doubt.

The fellow featured in the ad is Sam Nutmann, who is identified as a humanitarian filmmaker. That’s not a specific charity, but it is a cause. A big part of helping people in the developing world is to raise awareness of their needs in the developed world. The viral hit Kony 2012 is a current case in point, notwithstanding the recent behavior of Jason Russell, the co-founder of the charity Invisible People.

Nutmann’s role in the ad is as an endorser, but with a strong hint of a cause meant to resonate with people who will use their Camelbak All Clear in more prosaic places than Ethiopia. (As a Boy Scout I got terrible case of gastroenteritis after drinking water from an approved source in the Grand Canyon!)

The BD ad is one in their series of ads featuring health causes from around the globe. The particular cause is called FIND (Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics). FIND has a special emphasis on tuberculosis, which, the ad tells us, kills about 1.4 million people a year.

Unlike malaria, tuberculosis still exists in the developed world. But in both the developed and the developing worlds TB is most likely to kill those whose immunity is compromised. For the developing world that means TB is most pronounced in people with HIV/AIDS.
The ad tells us that BD is working with FIND to provide equipment, reagents, training and support “on terms that will enable them to purchase and implement these on a sustainable basis.”

So, BD isn’t providing equipment or materials free here, they’re just not trying to extract some country’s last nickel.

This isn’t transactional cause marketing. This is cause marketing meant to help people learn about FIND while talking about BD’s products, services and goodwill.

Given that part of the purpose here is to raise FIND’s profile, I really wish BD would do just a little more than just publish FIND’s URL.

But imagine if BD paid someone like Sam Nutmann to produce a video about TB in the developing world and FIND’s role in finding new approaches to diagnose and treat the disease.

FIND isn’t the only cause that BD has partnered with so I can imagine at least one video per partner. BD would want to post them on their own site of course and give the video to the cause for its purposes. But naturally the videos ought to be posted on YouTube, which, after all, has the world’s second most-used search engine after Google.

I can imagine BD sponsoring a kind of touring film festival meant to raise awareness of the needs of the causes it highlights.

BD doesn’t have to do any of this, of course. But in cases of cause marketing like this where money doesn’t change to run only the ad and the URL seems like a half measure.


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