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Showing posts from August, 2012

Get that Nasty Lance Armstrong Taste Out of Your Mouth

Howard Brodwin, founder of, and I are both sports fans and we both collectively lamented that in forfeiting his Tour de France victories Lance Armstrong effectively admitted to doping during his career.

I wrote to Howard, “A lot of us like sports/athletics because even though we know the best athletes are still human, we admire them because of their super-human performances. When they dope, however, it kinda takes the air out of that idea. I'm disappointed and sad.”

Howard, wisely, responded, this way: “I know what might cheer you up, and it starts next Wednesday.”

You kinda have to hunt down the TV coverage, but the Paralympics, which wraps up on Sept 9 in London, has been just splendid.

And, as Howard points out, individual Paralympians have been a terrific source for cause marketing gold.

Television spots from Coca-Cola, Citibank, and British Petroleum all feature inspiring Paralympians, and even Special Olympians. Check the…

A Well-Crafted Cause Marketing Effort Using Merchandise

Within the next few weeks you can count on seeing a lot of pink merchandise; garden shears, NFL Player’s shoes, cupcakes and more. But before you go pink golfer Phil Mickelson and his sponsors want you to think blue first.

When you buy Mickelson’s blue cap for $29.95 from KPMG’s Phil Mickelson website, $7.50 will go to First Book, the children’s literacy charity, with a guaranteed donation of $50,000. The hat is the same one Mickelson is wearing on the PGA Tour this year. It features KPMG’s logo on the front and Calloway’s logo on the back, two of ‘Lefty’s’ major sponsors.

The ad at the left was in Fortune magazine early this year and comes from the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

The $7.50 figure is in the fine print on the website. KPMG promotes the purchase of the hat as bringing First Book three books. To promote the campaign in the social media, when you Tweet a picture of the hat using the hashtag #PhilsBlueHat, you’re entered to win a VIP trip to Mickelson’s home base …

Good Cause Marketing Lessons From Bad PR, this humble little site you’re reading right now, is the Interweb’s largest, most diverse and comprehensive blog on cause marketing.

Maybe the site's size and renown explains the volume of off-topic pitches I get from well-meaning PR people.

There’s a name for these people. When they send me helpful pitches that are pertinent to I call them PR angels. When they pitch me ideas that are off-topic, too long, too dumb, or addressed to “Dear Alden,” I just call them clueless.

Editors and reporters have started to out the clueless. Heck, even PR people are outing the clueless. It's never been more chic than right now to complain about PR idiots.

I’m not going to out any clueless PR people by name. Not today anyway. But to prove my point, here is a short list of subject lines that have appeared in my in-box in the last week:
“Text Messaging: a Marketers Paradise for Increasing Brand Engagement.” “Sales and Marketing Team: The Real Drivers Behind iP…

What to Present in Your First Meeting With a Cause Marketing Prospect

Imagine that you’ve got at least the bones of a new cause marketing campaign in place and it’s now time to test it and see how the market will react. What do you ‘sell’ in those first few meetings with prospective sponsors?

There are two schools of thought.

In the first school, you never go to any meeting unprepared. That is, you put together a pretty buttoned-down sponsorship packet that outlines exactly what you’re asking of the prospective sponsor and what they get in return. In this view, what you're really selling is you and your competence at the cause marketing game.

In the other school, you prepare a bare-bones document that explains what you have in mind and why they’d want to participate, along with an educated guess of how much money you’re likely to ask for. Then, once you get in front of a decision-maker you ask what they’d want in return for their sponsorship dollars.

Which is best?

Well, it depends in part on you and what kind of person you are. If you can’t do anything …

The Images You Choose in Cause Marketing Activations

The image you choose to illustrate a cause marketing campaign matters. A lot.

That’s because very few people in the United State from ages 25-45 really read anymore. But a cause marketing activation in print requires literacy. So the job of the illustration... along with the headline... is to draw people in for the explanation. The images are no less important in cause marketing activations online or on video.

In general terms cause marketing activation refers to how you promote the campaign.

Witness then the illustration in this effort from Massage Envy for their Healing Hands for Arthritis promotion coming up on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. On that day, Massage Envy will give $10 from every massage and facial to the Arthritis Foundation. In addition, on Sept. 19 Murad will donate 10 percent of sales of its skincare products sold at Massage Envy locations.

Massage Envy is a franchise with more than 700 locations in 43 states. Its business model is like that of a health club. Memberships …

New Cause Marketing Study Suggests that Consumers Feel Empowered When They Choose the Cause

A press account in Nonprofit Quarterly reports that a new academic study finds that when cause marketing campaigns give consumers the opportunity to determine which cause receives support that consumers are more likely to buy and have a more positive attitude toward the company than when no choice is offered

The study, found in the current issue of the Journal of Marketing, was authored by Stefanie Rosen Robinson from North Carolina State University and Caglar Irmak and Frances Hipp of the University of South Carolina.

I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know the methodology. But Rick Cohen writes on the Nonprofit Quarterly website that,
“according to the study, three factors affect the content and potential success of consumer-driven cause-related marketing campaigns: collectivism, cause-brand fit, and goal proximity. The article abstract offers the following explanation:”
“’Noncollectivists’ value choice because it allows them to choose their own individual preferences. However, even “…

Standing Out from Other Cause Marketing

Back in the day, one of the things I put in proposals to potential sponsors was that cause marketing helped you stand out from competitors. Nowadays, in certain competitive industries like consumer packaged goods (CPG) one way to emerge from the clutter is to NOT do cause marketing. That is to say, cause marketing has become such a pervasive way of doing business that consumers expect it. So if you don't do cause marketing in competitive sectors like CPG, it becomes very noticeable, and not in a good way.

So corporate marketers might rightly ask, as one did Tuesday night, “with so many of my competitors doing cause marketing, how can I make my brands emerge from the clutter?”

Three quick thoughts:
Do it right. There’s still much more bad cause marketing than good. Either it’s overly complicated, not very transparent, the match with the cause(s) is hard to fathom, the donation amount is wrong, the campaign is activated inadequately, the MacGuffin is missing, etc. The first thing to …

One-Issue Cause Marketing Promotions

Little Mac, an Asian elephant at the Santa Barbara Zoo, had dental problems and wasn’t able to chew her food properly. In fixing her teeth, the zoo’s dental bill quickly ballooned past an elephantine $100,000, which wasn’t easy for the zoo to swallow. That's her and her dentist at the left.

But if you have a cell phone and special place in your heart for pachyderms you can help the zoo meet its obligations.

Simply text ‘MAC’ to 20222 and $10 will be added to your cell phone bill. Proceeds will specifically benefit Little Mac’s dental care.

Little Mac’s tale of dental woe makes for a good story, but it raises the thorny issue of whether or not to use a cause marketing promotion for just a single issue.

On the one hand, you can see why the zoo was keen to use cell phone fundraising to cover an unexpected bill. Moreover, for donors, fixing the teeth of an animal that eats hundreds of pounds a day is immediate, concrete, and easy to understand.

But, on the other hand, one of the appeals …

Handsome Infographic Captures the Essence of Cause Marketing

This handsome infographic on cause marketing comes courtesy of Carousel30, a digital agency with offices in Alexandria, Virginia, Princeton, New Jersey, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

It highlights current opinion, both overseas and domestic, of the growth of the practice and the esteem with which cause marketing is held.

If I may be so bold, the next cause marketing infographic that Carousel30 ought to undertake is one that gives shape to how best to activate cause marketing campaigns, especially digitally.

My thanks to Breeanna Beckham, VP of marketing at Carousel30 for letting me post the infographic.

Asking For the Right Amount in Cause Marketing

Years ago when I was writing the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon I struggled with the question of how much to ask people to give. It was received wisdom that we should ask even for small donations; $5 or less, for instance . Or as we often put it, “anything you can give.”

Many years later, some of this seemed to be born out in the 2009 book “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive,” by Goldstein, Martin, and Cialdini. The authors highlighted an experiment in which people were asked for as little as a penny in door-to-door fundraising and actually the average donation went up a hair. They conclude that asking for ‘even a penny,’ would help many fundraising appeals.

But it’s easy to imagine some subsets of fundraising groaning over that study; direct mail fundraisers, for instance.

While donations during the Telethon had long since ceased being the raison d'etre of the show when I wrote it, the money that came in during the show did represent about 12 to 14 percent …

Nonprofit Cause Marketers, Aspire to This

Einstein supposedly said that compound interest was the eight wonder of the world, or the gateway to the fifth dimension, or the sixth sense, or the seventh law of thermodynamics, or something like that. I say supposedly because is dubious.

Regardless, for causes the goal cause marketers ought to aspire to is the point at which you earn income even on nights and weekends.

That’s what’s happening in this effort from Nestle benefiting the Girl Scouts of the USA. This is almost certainly some sort of licensing agreement whereby Nestle pays the GSUSA a fee to use their logo on the package. The Girl Scouts sell several flavors of cookies that are, like this particular Nestle Crunch bar, peanut-flavored.

If you’re on the receiving end of a licensing fee, it can seem like a windfall. The GSUSA doesn’t have to line up manufactures to make the candy. Individual Scouts don’t have to sell them. The nonprofit has no distribution hassles. It may not even bother issuing a press release. A…

A New Twist on Displaying Paper Icons

Paper icons can be a license to print money if all the elements come together right. But there’s always been the challenge of how to display them.

Paper icons, others call them ‘pinups,’ are small pieces of printed paper, oftentimes displaying the charity’s logo, sold for $1 or more, and benefiting a cause. Usually they’re displayed in-store, perhaps hung from fishing line, or taped to the store’s windows.

Twenty CiCi’s Pizza Buffet locations in Georgia have come up with a fun idea of how to display the paper icons for their charity of choice, Special Olympics Georgia.

Those Georgia CiCi’s locations began selling Special Olympics paper icons for $1 starting on July 16. On Monday, August 13, 2012 they had a kind of inflection point whereby they challenged their customers to buy enough paper icons on that day to cover a law enforcement vehicle.

Fun idea!

In addition, on Monday, August 13, CiCi’s donated 10 percent of sales to Special Olympics Georgia.

"At CiCi's we care about our …

Cause Marketing for 'One Lucky School'

Henkel’s, the German consumer packaged goods company whose brands in America include Right Guard and Purex, is back again with its Get Kids Fit campaign effort and “one lucky school will win $25,000 in fitness cash to improve youth fitness at their school.”

You read that right, the total payout is $25,000 and it all goes to one school. Here’s how it works:

There’s a self-nomination procedure. You submit an essay with the answer to this question: “How could $25,000 be used to improve fitness, inspire self-esteem, and build teamwork at your school?” If your school gets past the first round, Henkel asks you to submit a video. The top finalists are voted on by the public, meaning the $25,000 winner is the school that does the best job of getting out the vote.

In the past, I’ve defended sponsors who spent more on a promotion than they give to their benefiting cause. And, in most cases, I’d still defend it.

That’s because if my cause is, say, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, I’d be glad to g…

Cause Marketing Follow-Up on General Mills' Win One Give One Promotion

General Mills is back with it’s Win One Give One promotion, “with,” as I wrote about the promotion back on May 18, 2011, “the item in question being a XO laptop computer.”

This post is part of an occasional series whereby I take a second look at notable cause marketing promotions. Here’s what I wrote back then:
“Inside specially-marked packages of 6 varieties of Fruit Rollups are certificates for a free XO computer. A total of 2001 XO computers will be given away in the sweepstakes. A matching number will be donated to children in Africa.

“From December 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011, General Mills will also donate one dollar to One Laptop Per Child, the nonprofit organization behind the XO, for every Fruit Rollup coupon redeemed up to $4,000.

“, the promotion’s website, offers a third way for laptops to be donated to Africa. The site, which is targeted to kids and moms has a kind of Angry Birds-type game that allows you to propel a heroic action figure to Africa via a…

Trade Group Cause Marketing

Trade groups exist to provide service to their members; research and publications, marketing and branding, lobbying and training, tradeshows and meetings, and the like. And now, one other thing they can do is to enable members to cause market. At least, that’s what the Mushroom Council is doing with a Breast Cancer Awareness Month effort benefiting the cancer research hospital, City of Hope.

Wikipedia says there are 7,600 national trade groups in the United States. There are also trade associations at the regional, statewide, and local levels as well.

Here’s how the Mushroom Council’s efforts on behalf of City of Hope work:

“In total,” the Council has donated more than $800,000 to the City of Hope for “pilot clinical trials to support research on the potential cancer-fighting benefits of mushrooms.” Mushrooms are high in selenium and the City of Hope has identified a potential link between mushrooms and decreased cancer tumor growth in cells and animal tests.

The press release I read…

Innovation in Cause Marketing

I’m reading Steven Johnson’s fine 2010 book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation and there’s a terrific lesson therein for cause marketers looking to bring fresh thinking to their cause marketing campaigns.

Johnson writes about the invention of neonatal incubators, which date from the late 1870s. On a walk through the Paris Zoo, Obstetrician Stephane Tarnier paid particular attention to the chicken incubators. Infant mortality rates, even in a sophisticated time like the Third Republic, were horrifyingly high. Tarnier wondered if an incubator for infants would help save lives.

Tarnier hired the Zoo’s poultry raiser to build an incubator for infants to test his hypothesis. Knowing that his fellow Frenchmen were in thrall of Descartes and sticklers for measurement and statistics, Tarnier kept careful records. The results of the baby incubator experiment were stunning.

Sans the incubator, 66 percent of low-weight babies in Tarnier's hospital died. With the …

New Browser Plug-In Helps you Avoid Products Made With Child Labor

A new Internet browser plug-in will tell you if a product you’re looking at on an online retailer uses child labor in its production.

Called aVOID, it currently works with the Safari and Chrome browsers and will soon be available for Firefox. The plugin, whose creation was made possible by the German company Earthlink, works with many of the major online retailers in Germany, France, the U.K and the United States, including Asos, Yoox, Amazon, Target, Macys, Zalando, Google Shopping, Frontlineshop and Otto.

If your German is better than mine, you can also read here a list of companies and how they rank in terms of utilization of child labor in the manufacture of various product lines.

The plugin draws on a database provided by the cause Active Against Child Labour.

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 with this blog and in other ways.


Charitable Donors Chary About Donating Via Some Tech Means

A new survey from the U.K. finds donors still chary about donating via some technology-enabled means.

The survey finds that 51 percent of Britons have put some money in collection canisters, while 31 percent have made donations through donation boxes at the charitable institutions themselves.

But only two percent had participated in change round-up schemes whereby people add some change to round it up to the next highest pound, with the additional amount going to charity. In the U.K. they call these “round-pound” donations.

Fourteen percent said they’d donated via text message, a mechanism that has been around several years longer in the U.K. than in the United States. 

Meanwhile, less than 1 percent had donated via ATMs. Only 2 percent said they’d consider doing so in the future.

The research was conducted for the National Funding Scheme by Ipsos Mori.

Says the website, "the National Funding Scheme (NFS) allows UK and visiting tourists to easily make a donation through digital channe…

Transactional Cause Marketing Versus Lump Sum Charitable Donations

Been thinking a lot about the topic of transactional cause marketing versus publicized corporate charitable donations. Cone’s most recent Cause Evolution study found that people are only slightly more favorably inclined towards companies employing transactional cause marketing (53%) than to lump sum charitable donations (47%).

Transactional cause marketing is when the sponsor ties its donation to a purchase.

Cone’s survey comes on the heals of a small study highlighted in the 2008 book, “Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive,” by Goldstein, Martin, Cialdini.

In this instance, the authors test what amounts to a cause marketing approach to persuade guests in a hotel to reuse the towels in their room. They test a transactional cause marketing approach: “reuse their towels and the hotel will make a donation to an environmental cause.” But they found it no more effective than the card left in the room simply asking people to reuse their towels for the sake of the environment.


Cause Marketing and Millennials

In April 2012 the Boston Consulting Group released its study called “The Millennial Consumer: Debunking Stereotypes” which found that for many in this generation causes and cause marketing is an important and animating force.

In the United States Millennials…aka Generation Y… now number 79 million. Compare that to the 76 million Boomers still alive. Millennials are defined as the generation between the ages of 16 and 34.

BCG subtitled the report ‘Debunking Stereotypes’ because Millennials are often portrayed as being shiftless, lazy and spoiled. The word cloud at the left from BCG's report gives you a sense of that.

But BCG instead finds a generation that… while it has a healthy self-regard… is nonetheless responsive to the needs of causes as they fulfill their missions and to the practice of cause marketing.

Here’s some key findings:
Of the 34 percent of Millennials who make direct donations to causes, almost half donate using their mobile device. That’s three times the number of no…

Cause Marketing the Slightly Arcane

We all get cause marketing based on food and other consumables. But is cause marketing out of reach if the product you sell is a little on the esoteric side? What charity do you partner with and what is the shape of that partnership? How do you make sure your brand is really served by your sponsorship?

These and other questions came to me as I read a press release announcing Celestron’s sponsorship of the nonprofit Astronomers Without Borders (AWB).

Celestron is the world’s largest telescope maker, with a special emphasis on selling telescopes to serious amateur astronomers. Astronomers Without Borders seeks to promote “understanding and peaceful international relations, while also supporting outreach and education in astronomy.”

I don’t want to oversell the obscurity of telescopes. Astronomy and telescopes aren’t exactly invisible to the wider world. This isn’t Olympic badminton, after all.  

By the same token, amateur astronomy is not like the NBA or even the NHL in terms of public po…

Activating Cause Marketing on Packaging

On July 20, 2012 in a post on cause marketing activated on packaging I wrote this:
“Regular readers know how much I like activating cause marketing on packaging. That’s because once someone is in the store, the last opportunity you have to reach them with a cause marketing appeal is when they see it on the packaging.” That was rational reasoning and long experience talking. Now a new study I came across from POPAI, the global association for marketing at retail, confirms my rationale.

Called, the 2012 Shopper Engagement Study, the research finds that 76 percent of Americans make their decisions about what they’ll buy once they’re in the store. That’s up from 70 percent in 1995.

What to conclude from that tidbit? Here’s what POPAI writes in their topline report:
“When we look at the data from POPAI’s series of long running shopper research projects aimed at providing new information on how shoppers behave when they are in different types of stores deciding which categories and brands t…

Cast Your Vote For Cause Marketing at Regal Cinemas

Americans have a big polarizing vote coming up soon and pundits have been weighing in with their opinions, informed and not. Much depends on what the nation’s voters pick; will they go for red or blue?

Frozen fruit drinks, that is.

Starting today at polling locations at 520 Regal Movie theaters in 37 states, when you buy a medium or large cherry frozen fruit drink, the company will make a $0.50 donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Buy a blue or any other color of frozen fruit drinks and Regal will donate $0.50 to Boys and Girls Club of America. The total donation to both causes is capped at $600,000. The promotion runs from Wednesday, August 1, 2012 to Friday, August 31, 2012. Weekly vote totals will be tracked on Regal’s Facebook site.

Regular readers know that I generally dislike these kinds of competitions that pit charity against charity. Most Americans like to think that what Peter Drucker used to call the 'Social Sector' is just one big happy family worki…