Skip to main content

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 monetary value. Common devices used include dice, spinning tops, playing cards, roulette wheels or numbered balls drawn from a container. A game of chance may have some skill element to it, however, chance generally plays a greater role in determining the outcome than skill. A game of skill, on the other hand, also has an element of chance, but with skill playing a greater role in determining the outcome.”

“Any game of chance that involves anything of monetary value is gambling.”
So, because the Pilates lessons have a monetary value the campaign represents a form of gambling. In my state bingo and raffles like this one are illegal, even for charities.

Fine for me and my state, you say, but a promotion like this would be super-easy to trigger at the local level where it is legal and probably effective.

Nonetheless, there are reasons not to.

We all know the downsides of gambling for individuals; financial insecurity, legal troubles, employment difficulties, even a higher risk for suicide.

For society as a whole the negatives are equally pronounced; political corruption tends to dog gambling wherever it is active, the number of ‘pathological’ gamblers increases wherever gambling takes hold, and, notwithstanding the promises going in about the use of gambling revenue, there’s currently a strong correlation between state budget deficits and states that have casinos, notably Illinois, California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. 

But there are risks for brands, too. Gambling… even in mild forms… represents taking without giving real value in return. And if you sell a product or provide a service for a fee, you can hardly want to encourage that kind of thinking. Even a state lottery tells people that that they don’t have work hard, be thrifty, or improve themselves. They just have to pick the right numbers. The addition of the cause tends to take the sting out of gambling. But, of course, it is still gambling. Warren Buffet calls Gambling is a “tax on ignorance,” because only the ‘house’ reliably wins. For these reasons you hardly ever see mainstream companies actively co-brand with gambling companies. To do so would be hazardous to the mainstream brand.

Then there is this. Did they participate in your cause marketing campaign because of the cause or because of the game of chance? If you don’t know which, how do you improve the effort for the next time?

I actively discourage you from using gambling in your cause marketing efforts.


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. …