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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 triggered. But it’s Sharpie’s extensions that I think are more notable. During October every autograph submitted in pink Sharpie garners $1 for the City of Hope. Naturally, they’ve secured the support of a number of celebrities.

Sharpie employees that donated $10 or more to City of Hope got to wear jeans to work the week of Sept 28, 2012 to October 9, 2012. They also did an employee bake sale, a walk and an auction of items created with Sharpies by top designers.

But my favorite campaign extension from Sharpie is a weekly contest that runs until Nov. 2, 2012. Submit an original work of art in pink Sharpie and you could win $1,000 worth of Sharpie markers and pens. There’s one winner a week.

I think it would be almost impossible to use Sharpie’s pink pens/markers without making a deeper connection with the cause than you would if, say, you ate a Snickers candy bar. The purchase of Snickers bars have benefited Feeding America. There’s something about the creativity required in art, as well as the physicality of drawing with a pen, that would, I think, tie you closer to the cause, and better build the brand.

My only quibble with the campaign is that $1,000 worth of Sharpies represents 200 sets of pink markers and 200 sets of pink pens. The contest rules suggest that the Sharpies could go to your local school(s). You’d probably want to do that since Sharpie is going to send you a 1099 for the full value of the prize. That is, you’re going to have to pay taxes on a thousand-dollars-worth of markers.

Moreover, a Sharpie has a long life-span, and a pink one even longer since it probably won’t get the same use that a black one does. Four hundred pink Sharpie markers/pens is a lot. So why not give $1,000 cash in the name of winner to the City of Hope, and $100 in Sharpies?


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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
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Cause-Related Marketing Meets Microfinance and Mix it Up

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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.
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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. …