Skip to main content

Nightmare Cause Marketing Scenario

Imagine that a sponsor and a cause engage in a sincere and well-meant cause marketing activity and out of carelessness they word the offer poorly in the activation materials. Perhaps the amount being donated is really oblique or seems to suggest something that isn’t true. And then some enterprising attorney launches lawsuit and he or she finds a sympathetic judge to certify it as a class-action.

This very scenario came up in a discussion group at the Cause Academy convocation last week in Scottsdale, Arizona. On this topic, we concluded two things as a group:
  1. That it will probably happen in the near future
  2. That it will have the effect of ensuring that cause marketers everywhere make their campaigns more transparent
In my view, it will also have a chilling effect on cause marketing as a whole.

Here’s why: Some of the biggest charities, names we all know, are sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in reserve. There are many legitimate reasons why nonprofits keep money in reserve. But it doesn’t take much imagination to suppose that our enterprising attorney looks at the charity’s 990 and decides that the cause has plenty of money and so adds it to the list of those also named in the suit. It might not hold up in court. But by then the cause has had to defend itself in two courts, one of them being the court of public opinion.

The result will be causes that look at the risks and decide not engage in cause marketing. It’s a darn-sight less risky to just ask for gifts from companies rather than hassle with commercial co-venturing laws.

The first part of scenario has already happened. Lady Gaga was sued in 2011 when 1-800-Law-Firm decided that the expenses for her wristband effort on behalf of tsunami relief in Japan were too high. “I’m suing Lady Gaga simply to hold her accountable for giving the money that she was raising for charity to the cause that she was trying to raise it for,” 1-800-LAW-FIRM attorney, Ari Kresch, told Radar Online.

You don’t have to read much of the Cause Marketing Blog to know where I stand on issues like cause marketing campaign transparency. But this is something that cause marketers should be self-policing.

Otherwise, heaven save us from self-righteous lawyers in high dudgeon.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Stock Index Dramatically Outperforms Other Indices

There are stock indexes galore; the Dow, S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, the Wilshire 5000, the FTSE, and hundreds more. But how would an index of the stocks of companies that do a meaningful amount of cause marketing perform compared to those well-known indexes? Pretty well, as it turns out.

I first floated the idea of a stock index that would track companies that do cause marketing back in 2009. I tried to figure out Yahoo Pipes so that I could put the feed right into this blog. But alas sometimes the geek gene does fall pretty far from the tree.

So I talked to programmers to see if I could find someone who could do the same, but it was always more than I was willing to pay.

Finally, last week I hired a MBA student to do it all in a spreadsheet, and what do you know but that over the last 15 years a basket of 25 cause marketing stocks dramatically outperforms the Dow, the S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, and the Wilshire 5000.

The index, which I call the Alden Keene Cause Market…

Pimping for Constant Contact

OK, not pimping really. More like a gentle noodge to nonprofits and the companies that love them that it’s time to start email marketing.

I was invited to a local presentation on email marketing from Constant Contact, the Waltham, Massachusetts email marketing outfit whose target market is small businesses and nonprofits.

They offer a cause-related marketing campaign called Care4Kids meant to benefit children’s causes. Constant Contact customers are invited to nominate worthy 501(c)(3) children’s charities to receive a free account along with the training to create an effective email campaign.

Non children’s charities are probably still eligible for charity discounts. If you’re outside the United States you might be able to induce Constant Contact to consider your cause. Alternately, you could suggest a similar program to email marketing vendors in your home country.

It goes without saying… I hope… that every nonprofit needs an email marketing component. Email marketing is a good deal lik…

Batting Your Eyelashes at Prescription Drug Cause Marketing

I’m a little chary about making sweeping pronouncements, but I believe I've just seen the first cause marketing promotion in the U.S. involving a prescription drug.

The drug is from Allergan and it’s called Latisse, “the first and only FDA-approved prescription treatment for inadequate or not enough eyelashes.” The medical name for this condition is hypotrichosis.

Latisse is lifestyle drug the way Viagra or Propecia are. That is, no one’s going to die (except, perhaps, of embarrassment) if their erectile dysfunction or male pattern baldness or thin eyelashes go untreated.

Which means the positioning for a product like Latisse is a little tricky. Allergan could have gone with the sexy route as with Viagra or Cialis and showed lovely women batting their new longer, thicker, darker eyelashes. But I’ll bet that approach didn’t test well with women.

(I’m reminded of a joke about the Cialis ads from a comedian whose name I can’t recall. He said, “Hey if my erection lasts longer than 3 hours…