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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?

Let’s start with the coupon paper icon. While many charities have paper icon campaigns very few feature bounceback coupons. But they serve both the charity and the sponsors. They provide extra inducement for customers to buy a paper icon, which is good for the charity. And they bring customer’s back to Mimi’s. And soon. The coupons expire in August 2012.

I like the two-track aspect to the campaign. Pay a $1 and toy get the coupons. Buy the pin for $5 and you also get the coupons.

The table tent also shows CMNH’s sophistication. Day was when you’d just repeat the same messaging on both sides. Instead, CMNH realizes that people, while waiting for their server or meal, read stuff. Buy making the messaging you increase the chances that people will read more about the cause.

Conspicuous by its absence is a QR code, something that Chili’s does in its paper icon campaign benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Such a code could have directed customers to video ‘Miracle Stories’ or appeals from CMNH’s roster of celebrities. They could have tried some kind of sweepstakes component that brings lucky winners to CMNH’s annual Telethon. They could have used a QR code to bring people to a special site hosted by Dr. Oz, one of the hosts of their Telethon, who could offer children’s health tips.

How was it sold? Well, in fact, I asked about it. The newbie server didn’t know much, but her more senior trainer did and answered my questions easily.

Good for Mimi’s for training her right and good for CMNH.

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