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Showing posts from October, 2012

Puma Project Pink, Feel Free Not to Repeat in 2013

Today is the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2012 and I devote this final pink ribbon post to Project Pink, from Puma, the shoe and apparel company.

Project Pink is a contest of the sort made popular American Express’s Member’s Project and Pepsi Refresh. That is, causes nominate themselves to receive a large cash prize then rally their supporters to vote them through the rounds, usually via social media.

Beginning on July 6, 2012, Puma accepted nominations for a single prize worth as much as $120,000. The donation was based on the profits from the sale of Project Pink merchandise, mainly branded shorts and t-shirts, and by the number of tweets with a promotional hashtag. Promotion extensions included a celebrity soccer match with actor/singer Ashley Tisdale.

Project Pink had a verification phase in September and the voting began on Sept 24 and ended on October 5, 2012. Puma announced the winner earlier this month; the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.

I never really liked t…

A Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing Partner Cool Enough for Oakley

Oakley is a really cool brand of sunglasses worn by very cool people. Oakley’s celebrity endorsers include Olympians Oscar Pistorius, Lindsay Vonn and Shaun White. Oakley’s headquarters in Foothill Ranch, California is cool in a Blade Runner kinda way. After he sold the company to Italy’s Luxottica Group, Oakley’s founder, Jim Jannard, went on to start RED Digital Camera, which makes really cool digital cameras used by cool movie-makers. Cool comes off Oakley like snow comes off Shaun White’s snowboard at the top of the halfpipe.

So when Oakley decided to do a pair of pink sunglasses, what pink ribbon charity did they choose to partner with?

Oakley chose the Young Survival Coalition, whose tagline is, “young women facing breast cancer together.”

As I’ve mentioned in this space before, the bell curve of breast cancer diagnoses hovers over women in their fifties and sixties. But, of course, many younger women get their breast cancer diagnosis in their twenties and thirties, including

Gambling With Your Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing

It’s older than bingo in the basement of the local parish and, if you get the offer right, an all-but-certain money raiser. Except that adding gambling to your pink ribbon cause marketing promotion is also almost certainly a mistake.

This post was prompted by a raffle… the mildest of games of chance… that took place at Longevity Pilates in Verona, New Jersey. Raffle tickets were $2… six tickets for $10…and the prize was 1 private session or three group classes with the studio’s Pilates teacher of choice. Proceeds went to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The campaign was conducted in tribute to Nancy Contey, the daughter of a longstanding Longevity Pilates client who had lost her fight with breast cancer at age 46.  

How is any of this a mistake, you ask? Well, let’s start with some definitions courtesy of Wikipedia:
“A game of chance is a game whose outcome is strongly influenced by some randomizing device, and upon which contestants may or may not wager money or anything of mo…

I'm Calling You Out Etsy! (But Not Because of that Puny Pink Ribbon Debacle.)

Earlier this month the Internet was in high dudgeon… in the way that only the Internet can be… because someone accused Etsy of pink washing. In its Daily Finds newsletter Etsy had bundled together several items with a pink hue in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month from its vast web of items. And, the story goes, some of the items had only the loosest sort of connection to breast cancer or breast cancer charities.

I swear, sometimes the Internet is such a hothouse environment. It can be like the worst parts of high school.

But this momentary blip in the Twitter feed did prompt this idea. Why doesn’t Etsy just bake cause marketing capability right into its API?

That is, why doesn’t Etsy offer its shopkeepers the ability to trigger a transactional cause marketing promotion on demand according to terms they set?

For example, if you sell flag-themed purses and you want to make $3 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project when people buy your stars and stripes purse in July, Etsy oughta ma…

Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing for the Fisher-Woman

To find notable pink ribbon cause marketing to profile this month, I’ll bet I’ve looked at 150 different efforts for various nail polishes, shampoos, makeup, and perfumes, plus every kind of gew-gaw that can be be-sparkled, bejeweled and be-spangled in every pink tone. And, fear not, more is coming until I shut down this special month-long pink ribbon edition of the blog on October 31.

But as a palate-cleanser, if you will, check out this effort from Emotion Kayaks. Emotion makes well-priced HPDE paddle boats and kayaks, both the sit-inside kind and the sit on top variety. Emotion is a brand from Lifetime Products, whose lightweight… and, again, well-priced… HPDE and steel fold-up tables have been in my home for at least 15 years.

When you buy the pink Emotion Glide Angler, a sit-inside kayak with two fly rod holders, for $550, Lifetime will donate $25 to Casting for Recovery, a pink ribbon charity founded in 1996 that I’m only just learning about.

Casting for Recovery, headquartered in…

Where's the Pink Ribbons at Nissan, Toyota and Dodge Dealers?

There’s a big pink ribbon behind the Chevy sign on the building at my local dealer. Chevy has multiple promotions that their dealers seemingly can embrace to whatever degree they prefer. Chevy Service enables people to donate the rebate from certain oil changes and brake pad installations to the American Cancer Society. On October 6, Chevy donated $10 per test drive up to $130,000 for anyone who came into dealers and test-drove a Chevy. Plus, there's several more extensions.

So, Ford is tied up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure in a merchandise effort called Ford Warriors in Pink. Starting in 1997 and for at least a dozen years following, BMW did both promotions and celebrity-studded merchandise sales on behalf Komen.

Why are automotive companies targeting women so specifically? Because women have disproportionate influence on the car that households ultimately purchase. But few women have any love for the car buying process or hanging out at the dealership. Take the sting out of …

Open Your Own Pink Ribbon Merchandise Line, Why?

A grad student recently sent me a series of questions about the future of cause marketing and one of the things I see more of over the near term is causes putting out their own lines of branded merchandise. When I look at this pink miniskirt skirt from the Loft benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, I wonder why.

Right now when you buy this sequined miniskirt (in ‘blushing rose’) for $70, the Loft will give 25 percent to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Clothing at retail is said to be marked up between 100 and 350 percent, more for luxury brands. Little surprise then that enterprising nonprofit managers look at these margins longingly. “We have a compelling brand,” they say, “and an engaged user base willing to buy things from us directly. Why not build a merchandise line?”

But. But. But.

Ann Taylor Stores Corporation, which owns the Loft, has almost 60 years experience figuring out what women want and what they like to wear. The 510 Loft stores have clerks trained to…

Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing and In-Kind Sponsorship

Suppose your company wants to get in on a little of the pink ribbon cause marketing, but your business doesn’t necessarily face the consumer and you want your donation to be in-kind, is there a place for you?

The short answer is maybe.

Many’s the company that have been asked by a charity to provide in-kind support of some kind; airline tickets, hotel stays, restaurant vouchers, etc. Stuff that can be auctioned or offered as a premium to donors.

But causes have other needs that they typically have to pay for; audio-visual equipment, mailhouse or database services, website design, employee benefits administration, delivery vans, and more. Any expense a charity doesn’t incur is money that can be put toward the mission.

And so, while a charity’s first preference is a cash donation, they’re almost always willing to talk about in-kind donations as well.

Long Fence, a large residential and commercial fencing contractor on the East Coast of the United States, is a Diamond Sponsor of the Komen Ma…

The Sponsor/Cause Match in Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing

Research and experience show that the match between the cause and the sponsor is an important determining factor in the success of the cause marketing campaign. There’s a few notable exceptions…namely when the cause and the sponsor are very well known. But, in general, the less time you have to spend explaining the relationship the better.

For instance, this campaign from Lula Lu and Save the Ta-Tas. When you buy one of Lula Lu’s Kallie Bras, the company will donate 10 percent of the sale to Save the Ta-Tas.

Lula Lu sells lingerie for petite women.

Save the Ta-Tas is a two-part brand. A for-profit entity sells merchandise with its name and logo. Five percent of each purchase and 10 percent of everything they license goes to the Save the Ta-Tas Foundation. The Foundation funnels the money to breast cancer research as advised and matched by the Concern Foundation.

Before ‘Eff’ Cancer came along, Save the Ta-Tas was the most irreverent brand in anti-cancer.

Now, Lula Lu isn’t breaking new g…

Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing Targeted to Men

My travels yesterday took me to a suburban Ulta Beauty store. There was a great deal of cause marketing going on there, none of it… not surprisingly… aimed at a someone like me.

But why not? Men are both directly and indirectly affected by breast cancer. About 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and about 400 men a year die from it. It’s far more likely that men will be indirectly affected by breast cancer via their wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and cousins. My mother was a breast cancer survivor, for instance.

Men have a major stake in breast cancer awareness and a cure, in other words. So where’s the pink ribbon cause marketing targeted at men?

Some pink ribbon shoes come in men’s sizes. The NFL offers pink merchandise in men’s sizes in conjunction with its partner the American Cancer Society. A man could certainly play tennis with a Wilson Hope Lite racquet or soccer with Puma Project Pink skill ball. There’s some pink ribbon jewelry that men could w…

Yes and Yes Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing

I’ve been getting pushback from my Oct. 4 post titled, ‘Transactional Cause Marketing is Not the Boogeyman.” In it I dismissed people who get heartburn from the practice of transactional cause marketing, that is, when a purchase triggers the donation. Fear not friends, there is a middle ground as evidenced by Hope tennis balls from Wilson that you see on the left.

But first, the pushback. Here’s what I wrote then:
“Transactional cause marketing is a promotion. So are coupons, sales flyers, sampling, among many others. But let’s just drill down on sampling. It’s very clear that when stores sample a product you’re more likely to buy it because it generates a powerful sense of reciprocity. Cause marketing pulls many of the same psychological strings. So why does the addition of a cause make transactional cause marketing somehow more underhanded than sampling? For that matter, it seems that lump-sum donations are just as likely to get you to buy something as transactional cause marketing.…

Asymmetry in Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing

Not every cause marketing campaign features the likes of the YMCA and Coke*. Sometimes it takes place between a charity which is very well known and a sponsor that isn’t. Or, vice versa.

(*Interbrand ranks Coke as the top for-profit brand for 2012. Cone ranked YMCA as the top nonprofit brand.)

I call that dynamic ‘asymmetrical cause marketing.’

For instance, Shiseido, certainly Asia’s oldest and best-known cosmetic brand and the cause called Cancer and Careers, which I had to look up.

The offer here is a straightforward transactional cause marketing effort. Buy a tube of Shiseido Lacquer Rouge lipstick in the color called ‘Disco’ for $25 and Shiseido will donate $5 to Cancer and Careers.

Research and experience shows that the most reliable results comes when the sponsor’s brand and the cause’s brand are basically equally well-known. The other two possible dynamics… the cause is better known than the sponsor or the sponsor is better known than the cause… tend to produce results whereby t…

Cause Marketing and Branding

Done right, cause marketing can be a terrific branding tool for the cause and the sponsor. But doing it right is the challenge.

It’s easy to slap together a transactional cause marketing campaign for some consumable item; a box of Kleenix, a candy bar, a toothbrush. But when a consumer purchases an everyday item, that purchase probably doesn’t connect the cause, the sponsor, and the consumer at a very deep level. No one uses a Zip-Loc bag, which benefits schools through the Boxtops for Education campaign, and thinks about local school kids having better educational outcomes as a result.  

As a marketer I don’t have any problem with that kind of imbedded giving that exists at a surface level. But if the sponsor or the cause wants to really build their brand, they’re going to need to add a little extra something.

That’s what Sharpie has done in its effort on behalf of the City of Hope’s breast cancer research efforts.

During October when you buy pink Sharpie products a donation is trigg…

Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing Doing Its Job Again

Breast cancer is heterogeneous, not homogeneous. There are subtypes that are more deadly and less receptive to current therapies, including a variety known as triple negative breast cancer.

Most breast cancers are fueled by three hormonal ‘receptors;’ estrogen, progesterone, or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Consequently, most successful treatments target these receptors. A triple negative breast cancer diagnosis means that the cancer was not triggered by hormonal receptors.

Triple negative breast cancer represents about 15% to 25% of all breast cancer cases, so it’s not exactly an orphan disease, even if I’d never heard of it. Among younger women triple negative breast cancer disproportionately affects African Americans, and their prognosis is worse than for women from other ethnic groups.

While triple negative breast cancer responds well to chemotherapy, in some cases early complete response does not correlate with survival rates. And so it’s especially challenging…

A Word is Not What it Signifies, And a Pink Ribbon Is Not an Emotion

As of yesterday we are 1/3 of our way through National Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2012 and conspicuous by its absence is the one thing that separates cause marketing from every other kind of tactical marketing, namely genuine emotion.

Too few cause marketers get this right during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That is, they use the symbols of the month…pink and pink ribbons… as a short hand for the real emotion that surrounds the diagnosis.

It’s a simple semiotics problem, in fact. Semiotics, says Merriam-Webster, is “a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals especially with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics.”

Here’s an example using an English cliché from the American idiom: dumb cause marketing is ‘easier than falling off a log.’ The noun ‘log’ is not actually a log. It’s not even a facsimile of a log like a photograph of a log would be. Instead, it’s an abstractio…

Using Sweepstakes in Cause Marketing

When you cause market with a retail partner, in most cases the donation is based on accessing their customer base. In such promotions, the cause is probably enough to get some customers to donate. But sometimes you want or need what I call a ‘MacGuffin,” a term I borrow from the illustrious film director, Alfred Hitchcock.

In this case from Ulta Beauty stores the MacGuffin is a sweepstakes for anyone who donates at least a dollar to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation at one of their stores during the month of October 2012.

In Hitchcock’s definition, a MacGuffin is a plot device that impels people to act. George Lucas said the MacGuffin in Star Wars is R2D2. In Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, the MacGuffin is the Crystal Skull. In Mission Impossible IV, it’s the Russian nuclear launch codes.

The MacGuffin in this promotion from Ulta is a chance to win one of 532 beauty bags, one per store. In order to pass muster with Federal and state regulators, there is an alternate form of en…

Avon and 100% Donation Cause Marketing

When you buy a bottle of Avon’s Pink Power Pro Nail Enamel, 100% of the profits go to Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Avon sells the product for $3 a bottle.

Since 1992, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade under the aegis of the Avon Foundation has generated more than $740 million, an astonishing number by any measure. Given Avon’s bona fides, I wonder why it bothers with the 100% of profits model for this product? Why not just follow MAC Viva Glam lipsticks and glosses lead and give 100% of sales of this product to Avon Breast Cancer Crusade?

Why would they want to? After all, such efforts include not only the cost of the donation, but the cost of the product along with the cost of distribution, which in Avon’s case would certainly include commissions to the Avon ladies. A $3 donation would probably cost Avon something north of $4 per bottle.

The short answer is those Avon ladies need all the sales arrows in their quiver that they can get. They need a low-threat way to talk about Avon products …

Our Inadequate Use of the Internet in Etail Cause Marketing

U.S. Census figures put ecommerce at 5.1 percent of total retail sales in the second quarter of 2012, up from 4.6 percent in the second quarter of 2011. Almost everyone see etail’s percentage of total retail sales doubling and even trebling in the next three to five years.

Naturally a lot of cause marketing has migrated to etail as well.

However, rare is the etail cause marketing promotion that really makes good use of the Internet’s many powers. It’s like running a TV commercial, but without using any sound. Or, showing a blockbuster on 25 percent of the movie screen.

This campaign by, which sells earbuds and this cute little powered speaker for your mobile device for $40 called a fauvette. During October, 2012, 20 percent of the sale of each bedazzled fauvette… or $8… goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Fauvette, in French, means a small singing bird, like a nightingale or a warbler.

These fauvettes come bedazzled with crystals in pink, black and gold, and ar…

And Now on Opposing Opinion on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Jen Dinoia, who dealt with breast cancer in 2010, is no fan of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. "Awareness did nothing for me," as she puts it. Jen Dinoia writes The Dinoia Family blog while running her happily crazy Foreign Service family household. Currently in the U.S., the three kids, two parents & cat are eagerly anticipating a move to Nicaragua in 2013. So here with a different take on Breast Cancer Awareness Month is guest poster Jen Dinoia.

I walked into my new favorite coffee shop today,and was hit with the realization that it is once again that time of year. No, not Halloween or Christmas, or even just lovely fall decor... I was lightly slapped with the pink.

If you remember from this post, I am not a fan of a certain large corporation (let's face it, that is what they are) that claims they are racing towards a cure (while suing small non-profits that dare to use the word "cure" in a campaign and giving their top dogs rather inflated salaries). It d…

Transactional Cause Marketing Is Not the Boogeyman

For a short while signs have appeared that seem to suggest that a company’s halo shines just as brightly whether they sponsor a transactional cause marketing effort as when they just make a lump sum pre-donation and promote it.

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 directly to a purchase.

Cone’s survey amplifies a small experiment highlighted in the book, “Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive,” by Goldstein, Martin, Cialdini, which had a similar finding.

But these studies make me itchy and uncomfortable, like a wool sweater in Indian Summer. It could be self-interest that gives me the itch. I make my living helping causes and companies put together effective cause marketing campaigns, after all, not showing people how to write a che…

Research vs. Awareness in Pink Ribbon Cause Marketing

Most of the pink ribbon cause marketing we’ll see this month won’t make a clear distinction between research and awareness. Unless they say otherwise, the major pink ribbon charities put the money they raise from cause marketing where they deem best.

As a former charity executive, I’ve long argued that for charities that’s one of the principal advantages of cause marketing.

The problem is, over the years Komen in particular, but also other pink ribbon charities have positioned themselves as cure-seekers. It’s Susan G. Komen for the Cure, after all. But cancer cures are big-ticket items, costing billions of dollars and decades of time. So Komen, and others, have also covered their bets by also being about awareness. For instance, pressing women to get mammograms well before most doctors were recommending it.

If breast cancer is caught at the earliest stages, the five-year survivability rate is 98 percent. And the mortality rate for breast cancer has been clipped by 30 percent since 1992…

Asics GT-1000 PR for Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women

If a sponsor is going to cap a donation at a certain maximum amount, what’s the right minimum amount to donate?

In this campaign, which benefits Right Action for Women - The Christina Applegate Foundation, Asics has put out a special pink running shoe with black satin laces and the iconic pink ribbon embroidered on the heel collar. During October, $2 from the sale of each shoe sold benefits The Christina Applegate Foundation, with a maximum donation of $100,000.

Actress Christina Applegate is a breast cancer survivor. The shoes retail on Amazon for $90.

So what should the minimum donation be?

Way back in the day we’d structure these kinds of deals so that there’d be no mention of a minimum donation. After all, the sponsors would be on the hook and we didn’t want to scotch a deal by committing them to a minimum amount. Plus, we were pretty confident that we’d never really get less than $250,000 out of campaigns like this.

In time, as cause marketing became more accepted, we started addi…

Cause Marketing from Clinique Benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Throughout October 2012, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’ll post on a new breast cancer cause marketing campaign each business day.

First up is Clinique’s Great Skin, Great Cause moisturizing lotion now available wherever Clinique is sold, as well as online.

The lotion is $36 and comes with a pink ribbon key ring and a breast cancer awareness pink ribbon charm. Of the $36, $10 goes to the cause, a generous donation amount from a dedicated sponsor.

Clinique is owned by the Estee Lauder Companies, so the benefiting charity is the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which was founded by Evelyn Lauder in 1993. Evelyn Lauder was the daughter-in-law of Estee and for many years the public face of the company until her death in 2011. 

Evelyn Lauder, along with Alexandra Penney, then editor of Self magazine, also co-founded and popularized the pink ribbon as a symbol of the fight against breast cancer in 1992.

In the 20 years since, the one place where you are almost guaranteed to fi…