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Showing posts from May, 2012

Do Companies Have to Be Sinless Before They Can Practice Cause Marketing?

A post on the website Just Means from Akhila Vijayaraghavan is critical of cause marketing and it made me wonder, should the impious ever be permitted to pray?

Should teachers wait until their students know the alphabet before allowing them to speak? Should I, as a father, wait until I’m emotionally available to my kids before I listen to what they're telling me? Is Nobel Laureate Al Gore the only person who can legitimately donate to Greenpeace or the Sierra Club? And, while we're on the topic, could any company ever be morally upright enough to make donations to a good cause via cause marketing?

Of Kellogg’s Share You Breakfast effort, Vijayaraghavan writes:
“Some of the products that Kellogg (sic) has been promoting as part of its campaign includes Frosted Flakes and Nutri-Grain bars. However both products have been criticized for the high levels of sugar that they contain. Frosted Flakes mascoted by Tony the Tiger contains 11gms of sugar per three-fourths cup serving. In a…

As Seen on TV Cause Marketing

One of the pretenses of reality TV in the United States is doing whatever you do in the name of charity. It seems like half the bikes built on the show American Chopper, for instance, are made to be donated to or otherwise auctioned off on behalf of charity.

Likewise, basically every episode of The Celebrity Apprentice turns on one kind of charity fundraiser or another.

It sorta has to be that way. The Donald really doesn’t want to turn loose on his empire a bunch of half-competent 20-watt celebrities.

Before Arsenio Hall’s win on The Celebrity Apprentice May 20, 2012, Walgreens, the mega drugstore chain, developed and began selling a bracelet for $3, with $2 of that going to the Magic Johnson Foundation. The Foundation also received $250,000 thanks to Hall’s Apprentice win.

The card that holds the bracelet says that Walgreens was “inspired by Arsenio Hall’s work to support the Magic Johnson Foundation and created this bracelet to symbolize our joint commitment.” Walgreens had the b…

How to ‘Ship’ Your Cause Marketing More Effectively

Causemarketing.biz is, in large measure, an idea blog. It’s meant to help you, my faithful readers, come up with ideas for better cause marketing. But ideas are easy. You gotta ‘ship’ ‘em as Seth Godin says, quoting Steve Jobs.

Godin talks about ‘shipping’ in his recent book Linchpin. It means that you must finish what you start. Get it out the door. Deliver your product or service. In Godin’s and Jobs’ formulation, to ship means to implement.

In Godin’s case, he ships when his books hit the stores. I ship every weekday when a new post goes up on causemarketing.biz. Failure to ship is the usual reason why Donald Trump fires someone on The Celebrity Apprentice.

How can you ‘ship’ your cause marketing more effectively?

There’s a lot of models out there, Godin’s included. The book Making Ideas Happen, from Scott Belsky, which I can recommend, has some fine ideas and tools on shipping.

For my part, I’m partial to the model from IDEO, the hotshot Palo Alto, California design firm. Belsky quote…

Transparency and Thanking Supporters in Cause Marketing

The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database… my proprietary library of cause marketing ‘activations’…has thousands of examples that go back more than 10 years. But the folder labeled ‘Thank You Ads’ is all but empty. I just don’t see many examples of sponsors or causes thanking supporters for their help after a campaign has ended.

This is a major missed opportunity for both causes and sponsors.

Transparency is vital to cause marketing. And a vital… if mostly ignored… part of transparency is to report back how it all went. Such reporting reassures supporters that whatever effort they took helped in some way.

If in the future most cause marketing campaigns did no more than to announce how much money was raised, they will have done more than what 99 percent of cause marketing campaigns do today.

A better approach would be to announce how the money that was raised was used. If you did a paper icon campaign for a children’s hospital and the campaign generated enough money to buy 50 high-qual…

Memorial Day Cause Marketing

It’s Memorial Day on Monday in the United States, a Federal holiday that recognizes the men and women who served in the military and died. It’s also fair game for cause marketing around military veterans and causes.

Kroger the giant grocery chain, for instance, is running a year-long campaign on behalf of the USO that has a natural inflection point right now. In-stores the campaign shows as a bunch of splashy well-placed signage, plus notices at every checkout counter asking customers to donate to the USO.

Regular readers know how much I love those big budget cause marketing campaigns. But, then again, Kroger is a $90 billion (sales) company. They can afford splashy.

However, Kroger is the 23 largest company in the Fortune 500. While there’s plenty we can learn from the likes of Kroger, the effort at the left is a little more approachable for most businesses.

Here’s the offer:

Piano Liquidators will donate 10 percent of proceeds from the week of Monday, May 21 through Monday, May 28… M…

Everything You Need to Know About Matching Cause and Sponsor in Cause Marketing

Here’s everything you need to know about matching cause and sponsor in cause marketing campaigns in 225 words or less.

Without resurrecting every post I’ve written on the topic of matching causes with sponsors there are basically eight options.
Pick a cause or causes that are a direct fit: for instance, a restaurant or a grocery store sponsoring a food bank.Pick a cause or causes that are an indirect but related fit: McDonald’s sponsorship of the Ronald McDonald House. In this case it’s related because of the way McDonald’s targets kids.Pick a cause or causes that are meaningful to important company stakeholders: Many sponsors of the various breast cancer charities fit this criteria.Pick a cause or causes that have tons of popular appeal: Target’s sponsorship of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is an example.Pick multiple charities with a single theme. JC Penney focuses much of its cause marketing giving on after-school causes, for instance. Kohl’s cause marketing money goes to chi…

Unconventional Cause Marketing Metrics

The print edition of Fortune Magazine runs a regular feature called ‘My Metric’ wherein business leaders identify informal but telling measures of current economic activity.

In 2011 Michael Glimcher, CEO of Glimcher Realty Trust cited as his metric an increased number of black cars on the streets of New York City as a sign of the U.S. economy’s resurgence. He’s referring to car services which carry both higher prestige and higher costs than a yellow cab. Their cars are usually black and therefore especially visible in a sea of yellow cabs on a New York City street.

That got me thinking, what unconventional metrics evidence the power of certain cause marketing efforts?

One immediately leapt to mind, although only companies that do label campaigns could utilize it.

Most label campaigns have a defined timeframe in which to redeem the labels; March 15 to May 1, say. Campbell’s Labels for Education and Boxtops for Education from General Mills, both of which run year-round, are notable exceptio…

When to End a Cause Marketing Relationship

Normally, when it comes to cause marketing longer relationships are better for sponsor and charity alike. Think Rolling Stones and U2 not one-hit-wonder bands like Fountains of Wayne or Los Lonely Boys. That’s because cause marketing is a form of co-branding and like any branding endeavor it takes years for brands to achieve real customer awareness. Frequently changing partners confuses customers and stakeholders.

For instance, I can all but guarantee you that even after more than 15 years of deep association, in a test of unaided recall few people would be able to identify Subway Sandwiches and the American Heart Association as cause marketing partners.

I’ve written before that lasting corporate-cause relationships are like marriages that require constant upkeep. Or like bank accounts whereto you must make frequent deposits to cover the inevitable withdrawals.

But there are certainly times when it makes sense to end cause marketing relationships.

For causes it’s probably more so a do…

Ethiopia's 'Sesame Street' Needs Your Help Saving Orphans

Bruktawit Tigabu is a 30-year-old teacher in Ethiopia who despaired over the number of orphan children in her country. More than 5 million of the country’s 42 million children are orphans; mainly due to AIDS and abandonment. When you consider also that at the same time 60 percent of Ethiopian children grow up illiterate you can understand Tigabu’s despair. As in much of the world, these tragedies fall hardest on girls.

In response she and her husband Shane Etzenhouser, an American software engineer, co-founded the for-profit social enterprise Whiz Kids Workshop, a television production company that uses puppets and animation to help lead Ethiopian orphans through tough topics like AIDS, malaria, and the child sex-slave trade in Africa. All while also teaching kids the challenging Amharic alphabet.

Back in November 2011, after reading the horrifying book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, I committed to help the plight of girls and women in the developing world. This …

'SPAT' Can Keep Your Cause Marketing Activation Intact

It’s probably fair to say that more cause marketing campaigns are activated by social media and public relations than by advertising.

You my readers are a sophisticated audience so there’s no need to detail the differences between advertising, public relations and social media. Suffice it to say that while PR has greater credibility, it’s challenging to get the frequency using PR alone that you can get with advertising. Advertising offers frequency and repeatability, but it can be expensive and it’s less credible than PR. Social media can have both frequency and credibility; Kony 2012, for instance. But I think we can agree that Kony is the rarest sort of exception.

So how do you activate your cause marketing story using social media and PR?

One answer is that the story you tell the media has a boy and a puppy like the story that appeared in People magazine last year about then 7-year-old Evan Moss. Young Evan wrote a picture book called “My Seizure Dog” about an epilepsy-detecting do…

What to Do With Leftover Cause-Branded Merchandise

Not all cause-branded merchandise sells. So what do you do with the leftover inventory?

The Tuesday Morning store in my neighborhood almost always has pink-ribboned kitchen implements from Kitchen Aid that once benefited Susan G. Komen for the Cure but are now selling at a fraction of the original retail price. Tuesday Morning is a deep discount chain of about 850 stores nationwide in the U.S.

Frankly, as a cause marketer it’s slightly embarrassing. Never mind that there’s a whole host of possible reasons… many which have nothing to do the cause… why the merchandise would be remaindered to discounters like Tuesday Morning. Still, much of the point of cause-branded merchandise is that the appeal of the cause helps move the product.

Back in March 2011 the big UK retailer and veteran cause marketer Marks & Spencer offered up men’s underwear designed by six different British sportsmen and benefiting The Prostate Cancer Charity. The original price of the underwear was £15 for a two-pack. …

Cause Marketing Cooperative

There’s dozens of ways to activate cause marketing. But the most common way… and frequently the least expensive… is with public relations.

One story that you must master when 'efforting' women’s magazines in particular is a pretty standard transactional cause marketing pitch; buy our thing and a portion of the proceeds benefits this fine cause. Get the details right and you’ll probably score some coverage.

But this is a classic case of good news/bad news.

The good news is you’ve got a pretty good chance at getting coverage in women’s magazines like Ladies Home Journal, O, the Oprah Magazine, Allure, Elle, Vogue, Lucky, Shape, Town and Country, and Self. The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database has cause marketing stories from all of these women’s magazines and more.

The bad news, you’ll almost certainly have to share the coverage with other cause marketing efforts which may be thematically similar to yours. Magazine editors publish this kind of combined story with great regularity…

The Legalities of Cause Marketing

In the United States the practice of cause marketing is subject to governmental regulations, mainly at the state and local level.

If your organization is a nonprofit just beginning a cause marketing relationship, you’d be well served by seeking out expert legal advice before you sign any deals.

On that count, today’s post on the legalities of cause marketing comes courtesy of a guest poster, Maria E. Recalde, Shareholder and Chair of the Corporate Department, Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green PA, a law firm founded in 1937 with four offices in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

My thanks to Maria for allowing me to post this article that originally appeared in Sheehan Phinney's newsletter.

A cause marketing venture (also known as a "charitable sales promotion" or "commercial co-venture") is generally defined as a sales campaign in which part of the consumer's purchase of a product or service from a business - in cause marketing parlance "a commercial co-ven…

The Cause Marketing Proposal

The production of a cause marketing proposal is a very big topic. Rather than tackle it in one ginormous 5,000-word post, I’m going to tackle it piece by piece over the next month or so.

Today’s piece of it; "preparing for every contingency in your cause marketing proposal."

Let’s say hypothetically that you’ve made your best cause marketing pitch to a would-be sponsor. It’s smart, strategically appropriate, and well activated across new media and old. You’re certain your prospect’s customers will get it and respond.

But then a week goes by without hearing back from the prospect. So on day eight you call, but don’t press very hard. The prospect apologizes all over herself.

“Everybody back at corporate loves the proposal,” she says. “Trouble is, unbeknownst to the marketing staff, the CEO had promised a campaign to another cause. The marketing department doesn’t think they can or should do both this year.” So sorry. Maybe next time.

While you could play off of their guilt and pre…

Cause Marketing to Men

Last Summer results starting coming out from the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study and among the headlines was that women are generally more responsive to cause marketing than men. Big surprise, right?

So are men AWOL from cause marketing? I asked the Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) at Georgetown University, which published ‘Dynamics,’ to parse out men’s responses on key issues.

Cause marketing targeted to men is a topic of some interest to cause marketers. Cause marketing is a form of sponsorship. Its biggest rival for sponsorship dollars comes from sports, which as a whole is about seven times larger than cause marketing. Men constitute the usual target market for sports. Men participate in sponsorship in a big way when it comes to sports. But cause marketers are still learning what attracts men.

I’ll list the question the CSIC asked first, followed by the top 5 answers from men, along with the best-finishing ‘cause marketing’ answer in bold. The answers are intriguing a…

Simple E-tail Cause Marketing

There’s a lot of fundraising going on at retail these days, oftentimes the easy to execute paper icon campaigns. But what’s an e-tailer do that’s painless for them to put together and quickly understand and appreciated by the customer?

A lot is at stake for cause marketers. E-tail in the United States alone amounts to $327 billion, according to Forrester, with the rest of the world coming in at more than twice that. Worldwide e-tail represents no less than a $770 billion business.

Newton Running, a Boulder, Colorado company that sells its own make of high-end running shoes in electric colors to marathoners and Ironman racers, takes a straightforward approach to its cause marketing.

As you check out, Newton asks you to add $1 to one or more of three causes; Athletes for a Cure, a prostate cancer charity, Trickle Up, a microenterprise charity, and One World Running, which provides shoes to the needy in Africa. See at left.

Between the three causes, Newton spends a grand total of 37 words…

Hair of the Dog Cause Marketing

Texting or updating your Facebook status, posting to Twitter or even talking on the phones while driving is at least as dangerous as drunk driving, according to research from Professor David Lee Strayer at University of Utah. So how do you get kids to disconnect while on behind the wheel?


An annual public awareness campaign from the National Organizations for Youth Safety is trying a hair of the dog remedy. Called Million Messages in May, the celebrity-studded campaign asks that teens send out a million driving safety messages during the month of May.


The press release says that just the celebrity portion of the campaign has already generated 5 million messages via social networks. So mission accomplished, right?


Well, kinda.

Across the globe, traffic accidents are the number one killer of teens. And social networking is a notable contributor to the carnage. Who among us hasn’t either texted while driving or turned to the next car over and seen that driver texting? A number of state …

Money Can't Buy Love. But It Can Buy Happiness!

Can money buy happiness? As a matter of fact, it can. But not in the way you might think.

Professor Michael Norton at the Harvard Business School did a series of fun experiments that found that if you spend money right, it can indeed lead to happiness. To come right to the point to be happy spending money, you can’t spend it on yourself.

But let’s back up and explain how Norton and his colleagues Elizabeth Dunn and Lara Atkin at the University of British Columbia figured this out.

They asked students at the University of British Columbia if they wanted to be in a study. If they said yes they tested their baseline happiness and gave them an envelope with cash in it. Some were instructed to spend the money on themselves by 5pm that day. Others got instructions to spend it on others by 5pm that day. Some got $5, some got $20.

They called the students that night and found that they had spent the money the way they were asked. They also asked what the students had spent the money on and aga…

Global Cause Marketing

Edelman’s 2012 Global GoodPurpose study is out and it finds a world increasingly responsive to cause marketing and expectant of the virtues that come from the practice.

GoodPurpose surveyed public opinion of 8,000 people in 16 countries: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, & the United States.

Across the 16 countries 76 percent believe that it’s OK for brands to support good causes and make a profit at the same time, an increase of 33 percent since 2008, when the first GoodPurpose survey asked the same question.

Likewise, across the globe 53 percent said when quality and price are equal social purpose is the most important factor in selecting a brand, up 26 percent since 2008.

Seventy-two percent are more likely a brand that supports a good cause compared to those that don’t, 71 percent say they’re more likely to promote such a brand and 73 percent are more likely t…

Impress Bill and Melinda Gates With Your Idea, Win $1 Million

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a message that they want to get out; “foreign aid really works.” And the foundation, in conjunction with the Cannes Lions Festival is funding a million-dollar contest to see who can best get that message out.

The submission is pretty straightforward and is limited to just two pages. The entry deadline is 15 May 2012.

What might the judges base their decision on? The rules list the following as a start:
“New ways to collect and share first-person stories from those impacted by aid in the developing world;“Data collection and visualization that demonstrates the “how” and “what” of aid, e.g. where funding goes and how it impacts people and communities; money spent on development relative to other areas; measurable progress against the Millennium Development Goals. (The foundation is particularly interested in MDGs 1,4,5,and 6.);“Creative distribution mechanisms to deliver stories, data, and information to key audiences;“Concepts that spark active en…

DIY Charity Walk

The first two things I can remember doing for causes as a kid was to sell Scout-A-Rama tickets and walk in the March of Dimes’ WalkAmerica, now called March for Babies. (Back then, I kid you not, the walk was 20 miles!) Plenty of causes have borrowed liberally from the March of Dimes walk events. March of Dimes, in turn, owes a debt of gratitude to the German Volksmarsch. Now a group called KindWalk enables you to create a DIY… ‘do it yourself’… walk for the cause of your choice.

Here’s how KindWalk works. You sign up for an individual membership at the website for $18 a year. You get a pedometer plus a raft of other benefits. They also have a second membership level for $51 that includes a pedometer with a USB port so you can download walk data directly to your account. Membership benefits include:
Interactive Fitness and Nutrition PlannerWeekly Recipes and Grocery ListsMonthly Wellness NewslettersInteractive Weight TrackerSmoking Cessation ResourcesHealth Risk AssessmentsWellness Ca…

Million-Dollar Nonprofit Writing

Not quite 10 years ago I wrote 25 words that helped generate more than $32 million for the nonprofit I worked for at the time.

The nonprofit… a children’s charity… was trying to develop a long-term income stream by buying (using nonprofit bonds) three assisted living facilities that would spin off extra cash flow. It was the most complicated deal I’ve ever been involved with.

Children’s charities and assisted living facilities don’t exactly line up and so we needed compelling and rational language that explained why the deal made sense.

I can’t find the exact key sentence, but it made reference to helping people at their most vulnerable stages of life; near birth and near death.

The bond issuance required an unbiased opinion letter from an unaffiliated lawyer who was an expert in nonprofit bonding. He identified my 25 words… among the thousands around them… as the underpinning for his positive opinion. Each of those 25 words turned out to be worth more than $1 million apiece.

The righ…