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Showing posts from June, 2012

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Right now Americans are wrestling over the issue of the Affordable Health Care Act, aka 'Obamacare.'

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Now you can join the Cause Marketing Newsgroup and get the the thought-provoking insight, top-flight analysis and bleeding-edge cause marketing ideas delivered right to your email box every business day.

It couldn’t be easier to subscribe. Simply send me your name and your email address to aldenkeene at gmail dot com.

When you subscribe each new post comes directly to your email box every business day.

And when you subscribe you'll get a PDF copy of "Five Flavors of Cause Marketing," a matrix which explains the elements of Cause Marketing and includes specific examples.

It's a great brainstorming tool that helps ensure your cause marketing campaigns have all the appropriate components.

Did I mention that a…

Cause Marketing in and for Patagonia

Patagonia, that region of Chile and Argentina at the southern tip of South America famous for its beauty and end-of-the-earth ruggedness, had a terrible fire in 2011 that left vast areas denuded of trees. Now a Santiago, Chile-based cause called Reforest Patagonia is working to replant a million trees in four of Chile’s national parks and reserves, and they’re asking for your help.

Here’s how it works: they ask that you go to and donate $4. They’ll plant a tree in your name and email you the gps coordinates of where your tree will be planted.

The website is reminiscent in its own way of the fundraising platform called which enables nonprofits to easily set up online donor walls.

I conducted a Twitter interview… my first ever… with Brenna Loury, an American by birth, but a Chilean by adoption. She got her start in Chile working for Habitat for Humanity there. That’s my first question and Brenna’s response in 140 characters or less at the le…

L.L. Bean's Cause Marketing in Six Words

Twice now I’ve written about cause marketing campaigns that can be summed up in six-words. Both times I heard back from readers inspired to pen their own cause marketing summation in six-words. Now I’m coming back to the topic because L.L. Bean, the Maine retailer and catalog company, is using a six-word statement as a tagline for its cause marketing effort called 'Million Moment Mission.'

The six-word line is; “You Share. We Give. Kids Win.”

Here’s how it works: any time you perform a qualifying action… a like on Facebook, a Tweet, submit a story and/or photo about your experience with L.L. Bean’s merchandise or in the great outdoors…the company will donate $1 to programs for kids from the National Park Foundation. The tagline, therefore, distills the campaign very well.

The Million Moment Mission is a promotion in celebration of Bean’s 100th year in business. The campaign started on January 1, 2012 and wraps on December 31, 2012. The total donation is capped at $1 million.


Cause Marketing State Parks

Not all cause marketing is meant to get directly you to buy something. Sometimes it’s meant to get you to try something you might not otherwise consider.

In this instance, AAA of Northern California, an auto club that also includes the states of Nevada and Utah, wants their members to see how competitive their auto insurance rates are. And the offer is almost ripped from the headlines of today’s news.

When you call for an auto insurance quote, AAA of Northern California will make a $5 donation to unnamed groups that support state parks in California, Nevada, and Utah, up to a total of $100,000. 

Although all three states are facing budgetary pressures in the downturn, the Golden State has been especially hard hit. California has plans to shutter as many as 70 of the state’s 279 state parks on July 1, 2012.

Aside from the timeliness, this cause marketing promotion is an especially close fit between AAA and the cause. Members of auto clubs, it goes almost without saying, have automob…

Corporate Social Responsibilty and the Affluent Traveler

What do affluent travelers want from airlines, hotels, resorts, tour operators and cruise lines when it comes to corporate social responsibility?

Conde Nast Traveler, whose magazine has about 810,000 affluent subscribers asked its readers some of those very questions and more and published the results in September 2011.

Here are responses to select Conde Nast Traveler questions:

Ninety-three percent said travel companies should be responsible for 'protecting the environment.'

What might protecting the environment look like according to Traveler readers:?
63 percent said building energy-efficient buildings.76 percent said using solar power69 percent said reuse towel (there’s the low-handing fruit for any hotel or resort)63 percent said install low-flow toilets and showers 54 percent said use less air conditioning51 percent said reuse wastewater12 percent said provide carbon offsets through fees The long-hanging fruit there is plainly reusing towels.

Likewise, 82 percent said that …

Failing Faster in Cause Marketing

Back in 2007 and 2008 Hamburger Helper ran a fun cause marketing promotion called My Hometown Helper that I don’t remember at all. In fact, there’s nothing about it at, the campaign’s old website. Dial up that URL and you’ll be redirected to If not for the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database and the long tail of the Internet, My Hometown Helper would be just a distant memory for the Hamburger Helper brand manager and the recipients of the grants.  

Here’s what a press release from General Mills, which owns the Hamburger Helper brand, said about the campaign in February 2008.
“Today, Hamburger Helper announces the call for entries to the 2008 "My Hometown Helper" grant program, a nationwide initiative that lends a "helping hand" to local groups making a  difference in their community. People looking to improve their hometown --  from helping fund a volunteer fire department, to restoring a town landmark, to supporting…

How Big is Cause Marketing?

I’m delighted to offer a guest post today by my friend and cause marketing colleague David Hessekiel, the founder and president of the Cause Marketing Forum and the co-author of the new book on cause marketing called Good Works, out as June 5, 2012. David co-wrote Good Works with marketing legend Phillip Kotler and Nancy Lee.

Today David tackles the issue of just how big cause marketing is and how we can get to a more meaningful measure of its size and dimensions. For years the only calculation we’ve had is IEG’s annual projection of how much companies plan on spending on cause marketing in the year to comes. As a gauge of cause marketing it’s a little determining the health of your car by measuring how much air pressure is in the back right tire. It’s inadequate and not very telling. 

One of the fabulous yet sometimes frustrating aspects of cause marketing is its diversity.  

Some campaigns focus on raising funds (buy this and we’ll give a dime), others concentrate on sharing a message…

Putting the Cause Front and Center in Your Cause Marketing

One of my ongoing complaints with a lot of cause marketing activation is the degree to which sponsors seem to want to keep their distance from their partner cause (or visa versa). There’s none of that in this ad for Pur, which really 'owns' its longstanding commitment to clean water in Africa.

Pur, which is a water purifier brand from Procter & Gamble, offers a straightforward transactional cause marketing effort. Buy various Pur products online and the company will send water purification packets to needy African countries.

Since 2008, Pur packets have treated more than 1.6 billion liters of water. P&G developed the packets itself, which contain a powder that purifies and disinfects a liter of bad water.

What I like about this ad that I found in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database is the degree to which Pur really entwines its brand with the cause.

While the main art is about the family benefits of Pur’s in-home water filtration offerings, half the body copy is d…

Cause Marketing in Your Grocer's Aisles

A recent trip to the grocery store turned into an opportunity to scope out some packaged goods cause marketing.
I started near the bakery side of the store and then made my way to drinks aisle, looking for cause marketing wherever I could find it.

Here are 14 that caught my eye. 

505 Southwestern
This is a simple transactional cause marketing effort that runs year-round. By transactional cause marketing I mean that when you buy the jar, it triggers a donation to an unnamed breast cancer cause (or causes). Normally, this would require the consent of the cause. But since 505 uses only the pink ribbon, which is not trademarked/copyrighted, no permission is required. Although 505 would be prudent to report on its website the amounts donated to which causes.

Kitchen Basics Beef Stock
This product carries a seal of approval from the American Heart Association. The most famous such seals are the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and the American Dental Association seal. Generally you get…

Cause Marketing and the Wisdom of Crowds

‘Yadelin,’ a hospitality student, in a comment posted earlier this month about a post I wrote about using cause marketing to fund a charity’s endowment, expresses surprise that cause marketing could be considered to be about raising funds. Yadelin learned in a corporate responsibility class that cause marketing is primarily about raising awareness. With this post I respond to Yadelin.

Cause marketing can certainly be about awareness raising. But it can also be used to motivate all kinds of behavior. My cell phone service provider has used cause marketing to motivate customers to switch to electronic statements.

My local electric utility has used cause marketing to incentivize me to allow the company to put a switch on my air conditioning unit that they allows them to turn off my air conditioning during periods of peak demand.

On the left, Whirlpool, which makes major household appliances like washers, dryers and refrigerators, used elements of cause marketing to draw volunteers to a H…

Just How Morally Hazardous is Cause Marketing for Most Charities?

The other day a reporter asked me if doing something unethical was ever a temptation for causes engaging in cause marketing.

These days plenty of skeptics would say that the question answers itself. Cause marketing, especially the transactional variety, is inherently unethical according to thinkers like Mara Einstein, a professor at Queens College in New York and author of Compassion, Inc.

Einstein’s basic argument against cause marketing goes like this: cause marketing is too simple and too far removed from complex problems to really do good. Moreover it desensitizes (her word) consumers in the process. Einstein’s book “takes us through the unseen ways in which large sums of consumer dollars go into corporate coffers rather than helping the less fortunate,” according to the publisher’s blurb.

I haven’t read the book yet, but I assume the blurb is referencing the fact that some cause marketing sponsors cap their donation amount and thereby benefit should people continue to buy their pr…

Using Cause Marketing Gamification to Reforest Madagascar

Zynga has been using cause marketing for more than two years now and other game developers are taking note. Mobile game developer XEOPlay offers Tilt World that helps to reforest Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island and a hotspot for biodiversity, owing to its relative isolation. Lemurs, a member of the primate family, are the nation-state’s most recognized denizens.

Just as Lemurs are a branch of the primate family Tilt World is related to Mario Brothers and Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man. The goal is for Flip, a tadpole, to eat carbon molecules, plant mushrooms, recycle bottle caps and capture fireflies as an alternative energy source.  

There’s 15 levels and points earned in the game translate to tree seeds purchased for and on behalf of the tree-planting charity WeForest. XEOPlay’s goal is to plant 1 million trees in Madagascar, which suffers from the effects of deforestation.

My description makes it all sound a little bit earnest, but Tilt World looks fun. I haven’t had the chanc…

True Partnerships in Cause Marketing

In Zen Buddhism there is the notion of a 'koan,' which is a riddle, statement, question or dialogue that can’t be understood through strictly rational thought. A koan is intended to help train the mind to better access intuition, especially through meditation The most famous koan might be ‘what is the sound of one hand clapping?’

Here’s one for cause marketers; ‘when is cause marketing not a partnership?’

The rational mind says that cause marketing is always a partnership. The riddle makes no sense. Except in cases where the sponsor is the cause there’s always at least two parties. Like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp or Scoreese and De Niro. Boom. There’s two parties and when they come together that’s a partnership.

But meditate on it a little longer and you can see when cause marketing might not be a partnership. When one party benefits in gross disproportion to the other. Or when one party doesn’t work to make sure that the putative partner benefits to his or her satisfaction.


Lessons on Cause Marketing From Fred Astaire

In 1946 Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly did an extended song and dance number called the Babbitt and the Bromide in the 1946 MGM musical Ziegfeld Follies. (That’s it on the left) The music was by George and Ira Gershwin and the choreography by Astaire and Kelly, the only time they collaborated while both men were yet in their prime. One thing you notice is that Astaire’s blue socks are visible because his pants were hemmed rather high.

It was a classic case of showmanship.

As was typical of the choreography of both men, when Astaire and Kelly danced together their steps mirrored each other. Moreover, they're dressed identically. Why, then, was the great Astaire wearing ‘floods’? In 1946 Astaire was already 47 years old and Kelly was 13 years his junior. By rights Kelly should have left Astaire in the dust. But still I couldn’t help looking first and most often at the immortal Fred Astaire.

(A few years later in the 1954 MGM musical Brigadoon, Kelly did the exact same thing to his dan…

Recent Study Finds Cause Marketing Affects How Consumers Perceive Product Performance

Academic research in cause marketing has long centered around the degree to which the practice affected things like reputation, goodwill, consumer loyalty, or how cause marketing could preserve pricing power. A new study finds that a corporation’s ‘pro-social activities’ positively influence how consumers feel about how their actual products perform.

The study, called 'Doing Well By Doing Good: The Benevolent Halo of Social Goodwill' featured a series of four experiments by Sean Blair, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University, and Alexander Chernov, and associate professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.

In the first experiment attendees at an executive education seminar were given wine to taste in plastic cup. A card accompanied the wine that described the winery that made the wine. Some of the tasters read a card with a sentence that explained that the wine donated 10% of sales to the American Heart Association. Other tasters saw no such …

Join the Cause Marketing Newsgroup, Get a Free Tool You Can Use Today

Kind Readers:

This post is number 850 of, which gives me all the excuse I need to invite you to join Cause Marketing Newsgroup.

It couldn’t be easier to subscribe. Simply send me your name and your email address to aldenkeene at gmail dot com.

When you subscribe each new post comes directly to your email, usually every business day.

And when you subscribe you'll get a PDF copy of "Five Flavors of Cause Marketing," a matrix which explains the elements of Cause Marketing and includes specific examples.

It's a great brainstorming tool that helps ensure your cause marketing campaigns have all the appropriate components.

Did I mention that all this cause marketing goodness is free?

And not just free, but free from obligation and worry. Because, rest assured, I will never sell your name or contact information. No matter what.

So join today.

Warm regards,

Aldenkeene at gmail dot com

How an Agency Should Evaluate Its Cause Marketing Creative

How should an agency evaluate a cause marketing campaign it had a hand in creating?

Agencies have their own unique gloss on evaluating the success of a campaign.
Agencies care about achieving higher creative standards. Agencies frequently care about things like whether a campaign helps them add another trophy to the case or brings the respect of peers and the trade press.And it goes without saying that agencies care about whether the work they do for the campaign meets internal benchmarks for profitability. But in my view what should matter most for agencies is the degree to which the creative they produced is aligned with the nonprofit’s goals and objectives. Agencies must evaluate the success of a cause marketing campaign based on whether it achieved the nonprofit’s… and the sponsor’s… definitions of success.

Sometimes this means setting aside biases (both personal and institutional).

In cause marketing campaigns, the job of the agency isn’t to be clever for the sake of being clever. …

Five Cause Marketing Questions Sponsors Need an Answer to From Potential Nonprofit Partners

Yesterday’s post ‘Five Questions Nonprofit Marketers Need Answers to From Potential Sponsors’ was inspired by a monthly column in Smart Money. Each month the personal finance magazine publishes a feature called “10 Things X Won’t Tell You.” The intent of the feature is to show that your interests and those of your bank, say, don’t always align.

In the interest of better alignment between causes and sponsors, here are five questions that a potential sponsor better have a satisfying answer to before engaging in a cause marketing relationship with a charity.
Am I Just a Paycheck to You? I had a conversation the other day with a potential cause marketing sponsor scouting for a cause. Their first goal was to generate money for their putative partner. Of course, they also had several business and marketing goals as well. Sophisticated sponsors know that most causes expect money from cause marketing. Fair enough. But if that represents most of a cause’s motivation a sponsor ought to know that.…

Five Questions Nonprofit Cause Marketers Need Answers to From Potential Sponsors

Smart Money magazine does a monthly feature called “10 Things X Won’t Tell You.” In May 2011 it was ‘10 Things Fund-Raisers Won’t Tell You.’ The point of the feature is that people and organizations have their own self interest that might not always coincide with yours.

For instance, in this article number three was “It’s scary what we know about you.”

It’s a great premise, but I won’t be as cynical. Instead, here’s five things that causes ought to ask of and about potential sponsors before they ink a deal.
Do You Really Care About My Cause Or Is This Just a Business Deal? Causes naturally would prefer a sponsor’s money and heart, but they’re sophisticated enough to know that it might not always play out that way. So it’s better to know where the sponsor stands at the outset.What Do You Do That Could Embarrass Me? If you pollute the headwaters of the Yangtze or employ child labor, or bribe high government officials, as a cause I want to know that beforehand. It may mean that I’ll call t…

Cause Marketing Around Rallying Points

The first weekend after Memorial Day is the annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Telethon. Like Go Red for Women from the American Heart Association or Thanks + Giving from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Telethon serves as rallying point; a kind of concourse for sponsors, supporters and beneficiaries alike assemble and to wrap their cause marketing around.

At left is a simple Telethon sponsorship activation from Ameriprise that appeared in the May 2012 edition of Costco Connection magazine. Costco is one of Children’s Miracle Network Hospital’s largest sponsors.

These rallying points are a common feature of the very largest, most prominent cause marketers; Breast Cancer Awareness Month, American Heart Month, Hunger Action Month, the various walks and runs and races from the likes of the March of Dimes, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Diabetes Association, Susan G. Komen and others, and the aforementioned Thanks + Giving and CNMH Telethon.

You can understand w…

The Customer Survey as Cause Marketing Fundraiser

The other day I bought a paper icon at national chain store. The icon has a bar code and the clerk scanned it and handed me a receipt when the transaction was finished. At the bottom of the receipt was an 800-number keyed to a customer satisfaction survey. Dial the number, or call up the website on my mobile device, answer some questions and I’m entered into a drawing for $10,000.

As I left I thought, ‘they know I just bought a paper icon. Instead of offering me the chance to win $10,000, why not offer to donate $2 (or more!) to the cause in question whenever someone completes their customer satisfaction survey?’

Why haven’t I ever seen this kind of cause marketing?

Cause marketing is all about encouraging certain behaviors in exchange for helping a cause. Framed that way customer satisfaction surveys are a natural fit for cause marketing.

My purchase of the paper icon clearly demonstrates that I have some affinity for the cause in question. I’m not a code monkey, but I doubt that it’s …