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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… Memorial Day… to the Utah Disabled American Veterans.

The Utah Disabled American Veterans is the Utah chapter of the DAV, the Disabled American Veterans, a national veterans’ organization with a 91-year history.

Ten percent of proceeds seemingly means that whatever Piano Liquidators’ profit is for the week of May 21-28, the company will peel of 10 percent of that figure for the Utah DAV. But proceeds is a slippery word. Does Piano Liquidators, for instance, just count the cost of goods sold when figuring proceeds or does it include overhead and other costs?

Some studies have suggested that companies get better results if they just make a donation and then, in the ad, say, “in honor of our brave and fallen Veterans, Piano Liquidators has donated $5,000 in the names of its customers and friends to the Utah DAV.’ 

In general cause marketing plays upon the social psychology concepts of reciprocity and social proof.

Those studies aren't entirely rigorous. But to the degree that they are true, I suspect it's most true at this scale of donations, say, less than $50,000.

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