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My Crackpot Theory on The Value of Aggregating Multiple Cause Marketing Promotions

Back in December I took note of a grocery chain circular that had aggregated several cause marketing efforts onto one page and asked, rhetorically, whether it was a good idea or not. Further, I asked where are the marketing theories to give some guidance on whether a company that does multiple and coinciding cause marketing promotions, as this chain did, was right to combine them or was better to keep them separate and distinct.

I’m here now with own crackpot theory, borrowed from the field of education and informed by octogenarian educator and literary critic E.D. Hirsch. Hirsch is perhaps best known as the author of the book Cultural Literacy and a founder of the Core Knowledge movement.

In a recent essay called ‘A Wealth of Words,’ Hirsch makes the case that receding economic equality in the United States can be laid at the feet of declining student vocabulary size.

“Vocabulary size,” writes Hirsch in the City Journal, “is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities—not just skill in reading, writing, listening, and speaking but also general knowledge of science, history, and the arts. If we want to reduce economic inequality in America, a good place to start is the language-arts classroom.”

Hirsch posits that the best way for students to build their vocabularies is when schools “create familiar subject-matter contexts within a coherent sequential curriculum.” That is, they help students learn new words in the domain of similar contexts. By making the curriculum sequential, kids can thereby build on what they've already learned and make better guesses about the meanings of new words based on what they already know.

Here then is my nascent theory of activating multiple and coincident cause marketing alliances: When sponsors have multiple and coincident cause marketing alliances, aggregating their promotion has a summative effect for the sponsor because when seen in context of each other the sponsor’s halo shines brighter.

Has my theory been validated? Hardly. But if you’d like to test it, I’ve got some ideas on how we could do so. Moreover, I suspect that while aggregating the activation is good and even efficient for the sponsor, it might not be as positive for the cause.

Please comment below. I’d love to hear your theories on the topic.


Renee Zau said…
I agree with you that multiple and coincident cause marketing alliances can make a sponsor's "halo effect" bigger. I like to see companies supporting multiple causes. However, I'm not sure the store whose ad you posted did a good job presenting that, as the campaigns were scattered on the page, lost among the many photos. Maybe if they had meaningfully devoted some space to each campaign, side by side to tie them together and highlight, they could have garnered better attention and results.

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