Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2012

A Turnkey Cause Marketing Promotion for Restaurants

If you’re a restaurant, even in the quick-service category, it’s hard to imagine a transactional cause marketing campaign you could launch more easily or quickly than a dessert promotion. When a customer buys a slice of cake, pie, a baked Alaska (see at left), or some other dessert, you make a donation of some amount to your cause partner; $1 is a nice round number.

In most cases you wouldn’t want to promote a salad or a main course. At a sit-down restaurant most customers come into your establishment to order an entrée and in many cases you probably give them a salad with the entrée. If the goal is to increase you average ticket price, cause marketing the entrée probably isn't the ticket.

But with an appetizer, drink or dessert promotion you could quite possibly raise the average ticket price by several dollars.

Drinks have very high margins, of course, and consequently they are often featured in cause marketing promotions. Most of the cause marketing around mixed drinks that I’ve …

Business to Business Cause Marketing from AmpliVox

Most cause marketing faces the consumer. You can imagine why. The lady who buys, say, printer paper where you work almost certainly is under the obligation to find the best price she can. A pink ribbon on a box of paper almost certainly is unmoving to corporate purchasing types if it also carries a premium price or if it doesn’t meet spec.

But business to business cause marketing does take place, even if it’s not common. This is my 890th post, and in nearly six years I’ve mentioned business to business cause marketing less than a dozen times.  

Add one more.

AmpliVox, an Illinois company which makes and sells portable sound systems and lecterns, does a form of non-transactional cause marketing to benefit the fights against both breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Not surprisingly perhaps, this came about when the human element was reintroduced to the B2B equation; AmpliVox’s owner, Don Roth, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. Listen for Roth’s part of the story when you watch …

Cause Marketing and 'Nature Deficit Disorder'

Just last night my youngest asked me what my favorite thing to do was when I was her age. I grew up on the edge of the Sonoran Desert and outside our home near a crossroads was a large mound of brush several hundred feet across that was home to all manner of desert animals, reptiles and insects. Many is the hour I spent watching creatures crawl in to and out of that mound. To this day I remember vividly a grisly encounter between a rattlesnake and a roadrunner, where, as in the Warner Brothers’ cartoon, the roadrunner emerged unscathed.

In short, I didn't suffer from what author Richard Louv has called ‘Nature Deficit Disorder.’

But in his 2005 book ‘Last Child in the Woods,’ Louv describes the possible effects:
Limited respect for natural surroundings
Attention deficit disorders, depressions, mood disorders, and poor grades.
Childhood obesity. So far, no medical manual recognizes Nature Deficit Disorder, but the outdoor products company The North Face does and is actively promotin…

Cool Cause Marketing Campaigns from Two Commonwealth Countries

Two cool new cause marketing concepts from two different Commonwealth countries.

From New Zealand Donate your Desktop invites people to download a little software to their desktop computer. Included in the download is permission to push a different ad to your desktop’s background every day. Proceeds from the ad sales benefit the charity of your choice.

“Think of it as renting out your desktop background as an advertising space,” says Donate Your Desktop’s website, “with the proceeds going to charity.”

The ads tend to be ‘Bing’-like with big and bold visuals.

This is ‘push’ media made palatable by the addition of the cause marketing element. Wikipedia defines push media as, “… a style of Internet-based communication where the request for a given transaction is initiated by the publisher or central server. It is contrasted with pull, where the request for the transmission of information is initiated by the receiver or client.”

Ten years ago push media was the ‘once and future king’ of…

Cause Marketing That’s Bucking the Downturn

The economies in the United States and the United Kingdom and wide swaths of Continental Europe remain stuck in the doldrums. But that doesn’t mean causes have to roll over and take it. That’s the message of a successful cause marketing relationship between UK discount fashion retailer TK Maxx and its charity partner Cancer Research. Cancer Research generated £3.1 million pounds in its biennial ‘Give Up Clothes for Good’ campaign in April, up more than £500,000 than its last effort in 2010.

That’s impressive given the funk that so much of the worldwide economy is in. Give Up Clothes for Good asks shoppers at TK Maxx to donate clothing items in store. But if people are holding onto their clothes longer and replacing what they have less frequently, then that’s likely to negatively affect Cancer Research.

The charity resells donated clothes in thrift shops.

But three things helped ‘Give Up Clothes for Good’ to succeed, even in a sour economy.
TK Maxx and Cancer Research illustrated Give U…

A Tip of the Hat to Pioneers Everywhere

Today my adopted state of Utah celebrates Pioneer Day. It’s a founder’s day celebration that commemorates when a hardy band of 151 settlers from the distant east first landed in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, not even a year behind the star-crossed Donner Party, which had traversed basically the same route.

Pioneer Day is a state holiday that we celebrate like a second ‘Fourth of July’ with pancake breakfasts, parades, BBQs, and fireworks after dark.

From July 24, 1847, when the vanguard party arrived, until the time when the rails were linked by the transcontinental railroad at Promotory Point Utah in 1869, about 70,000 people made the trek to Intermountain West. They rode in wagons, pushed handcarts and walked, driven largely by religious faith and fervor.

And while the the settlement of the American West was accomplished by tens of thousands who made their way along the Oregon or Sante Fe Trails, only the Utah Pioneers built fords and ferries and roads, and planted grain for…

Janet Jackson Cause Marketing Her Weight Loss

Janet Jackson, ‘Miss Jackson if you’re nasty,’ has sold more than 100 million records. Now the youngest of the famed musical clan is using cause marketing to help sell Nutrisystem plans and foods.

During 2012, every pound Americans lose on the Nutrisystem plan will be matched by $1 of Nutrisystem food that go will hunger relief agencies up to $10 million in food. Jackson and Nutrisystem cofounded the cause

As of this date, online presence is no more than a single holding page and details are sparse. But a recent issue of Prevention magazine reports that between the cause and Jackson’s wide appeal, “within two months of signing on as a spokeswoman, first-time orders were up by their highest percentage in four years.”

Jackson certainly has enduring appeal. At age 46, she’s been in the public eye since an appearance on ‘The Jacksons’ variety show in 1976 and, later, on the TV shows ‘Good Times,’ and ‘Fame.’

In those 37 years her life and career has had both up…

Telling Your Cause Marketing Story On Pack

In 2010 Kroger sold 24 packs of their house-brand water in ½ liter bottles benefiting their breast cancer effort, Giving Hope a Hand. The top was pink and the side panels featured stories of Kroger employees who’d successfully fought breast cancer.

Now Brawny, the Georgia-Pacific brand of paper towels, has taken a page from Kroger and produced a limited-edition 8-roll pack co-branded with The Wounded Warrior Project that tells the charity’s story.

The campaign also generates a donation for Wounded Warrior via an expanded Facebook ‘like’ effort. Sign a ‘thanks’ wall, like the Facebook page, or text ‘thanks’ to 272969 and Georgia-Pacific will back a $1 donation per action.

The packaging also features QR codes that lead to a donation site for Wounded Warriors project.

I haven’t seen Wounded Warriors messaging for the packaging yet so I can’t comment. But I hope they’re telling stories of injured service members and vets who were once in bad way, but are now better thanks to the help prov…

A Sold Cause Marketing Campaign from Mimi's Cafe

Right now at Mimi’s restaurants, when you buy a ‘Miracle Balloon’ pin for $5 benefiting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, you get a paper icon to be displayed in the restaurant and three bounceback coupons worth as much as $30.

I once wrote that Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals had forgotten more about cause marketing than almost any other charity knew about the practice. I meant that as a back-handed compliment. From my vantage-point it seemed to me that many of the things that CMNH had once known in its bones about what did and didn’t work in cause marketing seemed to be lost to CMNH’s institutional memory.

But this promotion tells me that Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has regained its footing. This is a very solid paper icon campaign.  

Mimi’s Café is a casual dining restaurant chain with more than 100 stores in 22 states, with a heavy concentration of the total units in California. Mimi’s Café is a division of Bob Evans Farms.

What’s to like about the campaign?


Cause Marketing on the Navajo Reservation

If you’re like me, you loathe it when gas stations sell air for your vehicle’s tires. Air is free, right?

But I saw a pay air pump on the Navajo Indian Reservation that used cause marketing to take some of the sting out of buying compressed air.

Gap, Arizona is a tiny burg on US-89 on the western edge of the expansive Navajo Nation (the reservation is slightly larger than the state of West Virginia).

US-89 is almost the mother road for National Parks in the American West. It is the main access artery for the Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, the Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park.

The population density of the Navajo Nation is very low, and the unemployment and poverty rates are high; 42 percent and 43 percent respectively. For comparison’s sake, the unemployment rate on the adjacent Hopi reservation is 55 percent. But the Navajo have a rich and amazing artistic heritage. Years ago I worked in a…

Join the Blogosphere’s Largest Cause Marketing Site, Get a Tool You Can Use Today

Kind Readers:

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

All from the largest, most comprehensive cause marketing site in the blogosphere.

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 all this cause marketing fabulousness is free?

And not just free, but free from obligation and worry. Because, rest assured, I will never sell your …

More Instant-On Cause Marketing from Colorado's Front Range

When I posted about Qdoba’s instant-on cause marketing effort to benefit the Colorado wildfire crisis, the estimable cause marketer Steve Drake asked where was the rest of these kind of promotions were to be found, especially in the state of Colorado.

In fact, a number of Colorado food and dining establishments have offered cause marketing, flat donations of money and food, in addition to prayers. Here’s a rundown:

A Colorado Panera franchisee, Local Breads of the World, made a $20,000 donation to the Care and Share Food Bank

In Golden the Boston Market served food to evacuees and volunteers at the infamous Waldo Canyon Fire.

The Einstein Brothers Bagel location in Lakewood linked its Facebook page to the American Red Cross website and urged patrons to help and thank firefighters.

LaMar’s Donuts and Coffee in Centennial donated 4,000 donuts to firefighters and volunteers working near Ft. Collins.

Noodles and Company in Broomfield used its Facebook page to ask fans to offer a prayer or a r…

Cause Marketing Fruit Trees

Communities Take Root is an effort from Dreyer’s Fruit Bars brand, started in 2010, that plants fruit tree orchards in deserving neighborhoods across the country.

Dreyer’s, owned by Swiss food giant Nestle, partners with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation to fulfill the backend of the promotion. There’s a nomination procedure at Nominated communities then seek votes online at the same website. Top vote getters receive a fruit orchard planted by locals with the Tree Planting Foundation’s help and advice.

The promotion is activated via PR and on Dreyer’s packaging (see at left). The YouTube video that explains the promotion has a scant 383 views, two of them mine, since it was posted back on Feb. 21, 2011. 

I have just enough Jeffersonian Ideal of a Democratic agrarianism in me to admire and appreciate when the American economy was based mainly on agriculture that one of the first things settlers would do was plant a fruit tree orchard. Even today, there are…

Open Source Cause Marketing

At left is a thermometer that displays the ambient room temperature on its maker’s computer screen. It was built by a friend using an Arduino circuit board. Arduino is an open source hardware control unit. He could plug in a humidity sensor and do a little more programming and his display would show the humidity in the room. He could add an altimeter, or a GPS sensor to display latitude and longitude. He could set up a website to put on view the temperature of the room where he works. He could add an accelerometer to signal earthquake activity (or theft of the device). He could have the unit send him text if the temperature in the room rose above 80 degrees. Etc., etc.

By now business people, even those outside of IT, are sort of inured to the idea of ‘open source’ anything. But open source cause marketers still offers cause marketers countless opportunities.

Two examples of open source cause marketing leap to mind.

General Mills’ Box Tops for Education campaign is an open source caus…

Cause Marketing for Pets with Cancer

Dogs and cats contract cancer at about the same rate as humans, but while an estimated 577,000 Americans will die of cancer in 2012, some 14 million cats and dogs will die from or (in many cases) with the disease. The treatment options for pets is narrower than with people and many pet parents euthanize their pets rather than treat them.

To raise awareness of the options and to generate money for pet cancer research Petco, the pet supply chain, and the Blue Buffalo Foundation, the charity affiliate of the pet food company of the same name, celebrated its third annual Pet Cancer Awareness Month in May 2012 demolishing its fundraising goal of $1 million. The effort generated $1.5 million.


The money in 2012 will go to 10-year research study with 2,500 dogs to “determine the genetic, nutritional and environmental risk factors for cancer and other diseases that affect dogs.”

Here’s how the promotion worked: Petco and Blue Buffalo invited people to make a donation to the cause either on…

Cause Marketing Lessons From the Rodeo

On July 4, 2012 my family and I attended a small town rodeo and the clown who performed had a great joke with a lesson in it for all cause marketers.

Rodeos in the United States don’t enjoy much TV airtime and so they survive on live events, oftentimes in markets so small that Nielsen and Arbitron wouldn’t recognize them.

Oh, the national championship events in Omaha and Oklahoma City can be seen on high-number cable stations, and occasionally the ‘rodeo game’ as the announcer kept referring to it will sometimes go to a few of the New York City exurbs as a novelty for the city-folks. Still the only way for most people in the densely-populated Eastern Seaboard states to see a rodeo is to travel a good distance.

That’s a pity, too. A well-produced rodeo is a slice of the rural American West in its most piquant form.  If the NFL is steak and potatoes, and NASCAR is BBQ and fried pickles, ProRodeo is a hearty chili with cornbread.

PRC rodeos, even at the level I watched last night, are tig…

Smart Cause Marketing from a Leading MMA Company

Torque MMA, a supplier of apparel and mats to the mixed martial arts community, has developed a three-part cause marketing promotion that may be exactly what the doctor ordered for cause marketers everywhere.

In the past, I’ve been critical of cause marketing efforts that front-load all their promotional efforts. In May 2012 I wrote about a cause marketing promotion benefiting The Prostate Cancer Charity from UK retailer Marks & Spencer and which sold underwear endorsed by prominent UK sportsmen. Later, as the cause cooled and the merchandise grew stale, Marks & Spencer begin to discount the underwear in stores and online.

Here’s what I wrote:
In a case like this where there’s a celebrity component, here’s a thought; hold back some of the promotion for later. Promotions… cause marketing and otherwise… tend to be front-loaded and rightfully so. You have to develop the momentum to see you through the promotion and the best way to do that is to go as big as you can right from the …

Instant-On Cause Marketing Benefiting the Colorado Wildfire Fight

Qdoba Mexican Grill, a Colorado-based fast-casual Mexican food chain restaurant, is doing one of those instant-on cause marketing efforts benefiting the firefighting effort in the wildfire-ravaged state of Colorado.

Next Tuesday, July 10, 2012 all 72 Qdoba restaurants in Colorado will ask customers for a minimum $1 donation to the Red Cross fund called Colorado Wildfires 2012. Everyone who donates a $1 minimum will get Qdoba’s chips and three-cheese appetizer free. Qdoba will match the first $50,000 raised dollar for dollar. The total goal, therefore, is $100,000.

Qdoba has about 700 locations spread across the United States. 

The money will go to the American Red Cross, which in cases of natural disaster like this provides shelter and other support to the people affected by the fires. During the course of Colorado’s wildfires tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes for at least a day.

Kudos (Qudos?) to Qdoba for this instant-on cause marketing effort.

The Appeal of Franchises for Cause Marketers

Cause marketing is almost always directed at consumers. So in North America one place you can be all but certain to find cause marketing is at retail franchise outlet.

 The ten largest franchise systems, ranked according to worldwide sales volume as ranked by Franchise Times follow. Where known I’ve added the cause with which each franchise system is most publicly affiliated.
McDonald’s… Ronald McDonald House Charities7-Eleven… Muscular Dystrophy AssociationKFC … KFC Colonel’s Scholars, et alBurger King… variousSubway Restaurants… American Heart AssociationAce Hardware… Children’s Miracle NetworkCircle K Stores… United Cerebral PalsyPizza Hut…Book It, et alWendy’s… Dave Thomas Foundation for AdoptionMarriott Hotels, Resorts & Suites… Children’s Miracle Network. It’s not surprising that consumer-oriented franchises would tend to have a cause marketing focus. Academic research consistently finds that corporate social responsibility makes good business sense for businesses that targe…

Bota Box Mashes Up Cause Marketing and Rebates

Some $8 billion a year is returned to American households each year in the form of rebates, estimates Parago, a rebate promotion provider in Lewisville, Texas. That dwarfs the $1.7 billion that IEG predicts companies will spend on cause marketing efforts in 2012.

Surely there’s a way to mash-up these two different approaches to incentive promotions in a way that makes best advantage of both.

In fact, Bota Box, which sells California wines in a box is doing exactly that to benefit the Arbor Day Foundation. In time for National Picnic Month this month, Bota Box will either donate to the Arbor Day Foundation or offer customers a rebate when they meet the terms of the rebate.

Here’s how it works: When you send in the cash register receipts for three Bota boxes and the official mail-in rebate form, the company will make a $12 donation to the National Arbor Day Foundation. Or, you can take the rebate yourself.

The corresponding rebate amounts for 2 Bota Boxes is $7 and $3 for one Bota Box.