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End Malaria Day Book Does its Cause Marketing Job

April 25. 2012 is End Malaria Day and to help purchase insecticide-treated nets more than 60 (mainly) A-list business and personal development writers are publishing a book by the same name, ‘End Malaria Day.’ Buy it on Kindle for $20 and all $20 goes to purchase anti-malarial nets that will drape over someone’s bed, probably in Africa where malaria is endemic. The paperback version is $25 and in that case net profits go to buy nets like the one at the left. It’s a terrific cause and a cool roster of business thinkers. I hope you’ll join me in buying the book/download.

But as I was mousing around the EndMalariaDay.com site I came across a comment from “Tkharris” who asks, “Can we just contribute without buying the book?” I don’t know whether or not the site allows direct donations, but it certainly ought to.

But TK’s comment set me to thinking. What he or she seems to be doing is repudiating one of the small handful of a cause marketing campaigns I’ve even seen wherein every single penny generated goes to the cause. One hundred percent cause marketing would normally be seen as the highest ideal. And yet it’s seemingly not enough for Tkharris.

But let’s treat TK fairly. After all, it could be that what he or she intends to do is donate $1,000… enough to buy 100 nets or so… and perhaps TK can’t manage to give away that many books/downloads. I hope that’s the case.

It may also be that TK just doesn’t like cause marketing, even when 100 percent of the purchase price goes to the cause.

If money doesn’t hold any sway for TK when it comes to cause marketing, maybe this will. It’s pretty likely that TK wouldn’t know about malaria and the dire necessity for malaria nets if not for the promotion and the website. If TK did already know about it, then his or her question is either unnecessary or meant to be provocative.

There’s plenty of fine organizations that will take your money to provide anti-malarial nets. A quick Google search will show who they are.

What I’m talking about is the awareness-raising aspect of cause marketing that I myself generally pooh-pooh. I understand the value of awareness-raising. But high awareness won’t buy you a cup of coffee at any Starbucks unless you also hand the friendly barrista $5.

But let’s get back to TK. Malaria infects 400,000 people a year in Africa and about 1 million people die from it every year, a disproportionate number of whom are children. It’s a scourge of the worst kind in Africa, where 90 percent of the deaths to malaria occur. Malaria has been well-covered by the mainstream media. I’ve covered it in multiple postings in my little corner of the social media. And yet TK seems only to just be learning this from a cause marketing campaign!

How?

Well, TK probably wasn’t searching on End Malaria Day or even on malaria for the reasons I've addressed. TK likely landed at EndMalariaDay.com site because she searched on Seth Godin or Tom Peters or Jonah Lehrer or got linked to the site from one of their channels. All those folks contributed an essay to the book. Other contributors include: Dave Ramsey, Gary Vaynerchuk, Dan Pink, Sir Ken Robinson and many more. (It’s a veritable who’s who of Fast Company contributors and TED presenters.)

The End Malaria Day campaign did its job, in other words. It raised awareness high enough that TK can question the need for the campaign.

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