Skip to main content

Cause Marketing and Co-Branding

Remember when your geometry teacher told you that 'all squares were rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares'? Well, get ready for a similar mind-bender from cause marketing; all cause marketing is co-branding, but not all co-branding is cause marketing. defines co-branding as a "marketing effort or partnership between companies to join forces and use the best technology or content of each and lending both of their brands to the final product."

That sounds a little highfalutin. So let's just say that co-branding describes when brands combine efforts in ways such that they create mutual benefit.

There are several kinds of co-branding, including cause marketing itself.
  • Promotional/Sponsorship. This is the category cause marketing falls under. Another example is Fedex’s league-wide sponsorship of the National Football League.
  • Ingredient. A recipe in a free-standing insert that includes Hershey chocolate bar and Kraft Marshmallows or Nabisco’s Honey Maid graham crackers.
  • Innovation Based. Polar Electro’s heart rate monitors integrated into apparel from Adidas.
  • Value-Chain, which is meant to bring new experiences to the consumer, not just another flavor. There are three varieties of value-chain co-branding
    • Product Service. Sea World and Southwest Airlines.
    • Supplier-Retailer. Starbucks wifi service from AT&T.
    • Alliance. They obvious example are the tie-ups between two or more airline carriers.

Co-branding is common and familiar enough that you probably have some other examples in mind.

Less common is co-branding between more than two brands. That's because the more brands you add the more inertia there is to overcome. Co-branding with more than two brands is like a trade between three or more professional sports teams whereby six or eight or ten players change teams. Those deals frequently make the news because everyone understands that they're so hard to put together in a way that satisfies all the parties.

The above promotion found in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database is an example of a four-way co-brand; there’s Tag Heuer, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Leonardo DiCaprio, and a Tag Heuer dealer called Joseph-Anthony. I saw this cause marketing activation in an issue of Forbes magazine.

The cause marketing part of this co-branding is that Tag Heuer delivers an unstated donation to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a cause which given his green bona fides was almost certainly Leonardo DiCaprio’s choice.

In exchange, Tag Heuer gets to use DiCaprio’s mug in the ad. Joseph-Anthony likely gets to pay for part of the ad.

The result of this four-way co-brand is probably satisfaction all around.

Joseph-Anthony is happy because there’s no way a small jeweler could have pulled this together in and of itself. DiCaprio’s pleased because he gets a fee for both himself and a favored charity. And, I assume, the Tag Heuer watch of his choice. The Natural Resources Defense Council is glad to be associated with a higher-end corporate brand with no apparent environmental blemishes, while also getting paid. And Tag Heuer satisfies both a dealer and one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.


JMS said…
Great Paul! Is always nice to be in touch with someone who truly ( & always) believes in "saving the world". Best!

Popular posts from this blog

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Cause-Related Marketing Meets Microfinance and Mix it Up

You’d have had to have been in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the last year or so to have missed the run up of microfinance. Between 2004 and 2006 more than $4 billion of capital flowed into microfinance institutions. All told experts say the total loan microfinance loan portfolio may be as much as $12.5 billion. And of course the father of microfinance, Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Microfinance is now so respectable, so effective, (so profitable!) that it’s already enjoying its first global backlash.

Actually that first sentence is hyperbole. Because even in Ulaanbaatar… far from almost anywhere on the vast, frigid steppes of Mongolia… microfinance is thriving such that the earliest recipients of micro loans there are now complaining about taxes and government bureaucracy! And May 29-31, 2008 the Conference of Microfinance Institutions will convene in Ulaanbaatar, the eleventh such annual conference.
Now Advanta, a credit card issuer to small…

Cause Marketing Beer with BOGO, Brew One Give One

On Monday’s post I touched on the topic of telling people what your cause marketing campaign accomplished when completed. I’ve recommended this approach to clients as a way to keep open the lines of communication with customers and clients and to get extra value from the campaign.

In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

But what if that really cuts across the grain in your organization? What if it’s just not in your corporate DNA to do anything but to frontload your cause marketing activation? Well, then, add the report back to the activation of your next cause marketing effort.

New Belgium Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colorado, said to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States, did just that with this ad in Sunset magazine. I found this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

New Belgium donates $1 for every barrel it brews and sells. It’s a BOGO cause marketing effort, Buy One Give One. …