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Showing posts from April, 2013

A Few Extra Steps in Your Cause Marketing Could Bring About a Blockbuster

Cause marketing, like all forms of sponsorship, requires activation, or promotion of the campaign in some form. Imagine, then, how sweet it is when you sign one or more members of the media as a campaign sponsor. It’s a little like coming home every night to Giselle Bundchen (or, if you prefer, Tom Brady).

Too bad the media sponsor in an effort benefiting the Red Dress campaign didn’t take a few extra steps to ensure that the campaign had a second life.

The Red Dress Awards have been sponsored for the last 10 years by Woman’s Day magazine, the Hachette Filipacci title with a circulation of almost 4 million readers. The Red Dress campaign is a sprawling effort held each February to raise awareness of heart disease among woman. Heart disease is far and away the deadliest killer of women in the United States.

Red Dress efforts are spearheaded jointly, but separately by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. In 2010 the Red Dress Awards benefited the Larry K…

Cause Marketers, Let's Really Start Hearing One Another

I’ve been writing this blog for almost seven years and have been involved with cause marketing for more than 20 years. During that time one of my enduring complaints has been that marketers from the causes and from the sponsors were talking to each other, but not really listening. It was like a modestly-happy couple communicating everything, except trust. But now there are increasing signs that they’re finally hearing and trusting each other.

Witness a label effort from 2011 that I found in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database called Child Hunger Ends Here from ConAgra Foods on behalf of Feeding America. ConAgra owns more than a half dozen food brands including three that target children; Chef Boyardee, Peter Pan peanut butter, and the Kid Cuisine brand of quick-serve meals.

When you entered the 8-digit code from the package of any participating ConAgra item at and a donation is made to Feeding America, up to 2.5 million meals. That probably represented …

Making the Language of Your Cause Marketing Appeal Clear and Concrete

An ad in the May 2010 issue of the 'Yoga Journal' offered an unspecified donation to a yoga charity when you bought a pair of yoga pants from The donation went to Off the Mat, Into the World, a nonprofit co-founded by the model in the ad, Seane Corn. The ad now resides in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

‘Off the Mat’ is a fun name, suggesting that there’s other things in life that reward the participant in addition to yoga. So what does Off the Mat do? The ad says OTM’s mission is “inspiring conscious, sustainable community service through the power of yoga.”

I know what community service is and I understand the words conscious and sustainable in a broad way. But when they’re all combined in that sentence it seems like nonsense. It’s hard to imagine 'unconscious community service,' for instance. In this sentence it’s as though plain English got tied up like a pretzel.

I suspect that for many of the readers of Yoga Journal words like conscious and sust…

Time to Smarten Up Our Earth Day Messaging

Today, Monday, April 22 is the 43rd Earth Day in the United States, a day that was originally conceived as a kind of environmental ‘teach-in.’

But I think it’s fair to say that most Americans understood those first few Earth Days not as a ‘teach-in’ but as a reminder to clean up litter.

America made great strides against litter. It has also made great strides against air pollution, and water pollution. The country still has litter and air and water pollution. But air pollution in particular is now better than it was in, say, December 1970, when the Environmental Protection Agency was founded.

National carbon monoxide emissions are not quite a third of what they were in 1970. Ammonia emissions are lower now than then, so are nitrogen oxides, particulates, sulfur dioxides, and volatile organic compounds.

Both surface water and groundwater are cleaner than they were in 1970 thanks to the Clean Water Acts and the Safe Drinking Water Act. All this notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. popula…

Cool Cause Marketing Effort, Wrong Season

Project Potential from Kraft's ready-to-eat meal brand Lunchables sounds like a wondrous effort. In an ad that ran in the May 2010 Glamour magazine and is now archived in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database, a cute little girl is said to be leaping from princesshood to… maybe… the presidency thanks to Project Potential.

And what is Project Potential? The ad promised to send 50 entire classrooms on fieldtrips.

I suppose that a class fieldtrip could help someone fulfill their potential. Peter Parker got bit by a radioactive spider on a class fieldtrip and became Spiderman after all!

Says the website: “It's not a reach when their potential is so great. That's why we're dedicated to providing kids with as many academic learning opportunities as possible—to help them reach their full potential! Every time you buy LUNCHABLES Lunch Combinations, you're supporting our efforts to help kids realize just how far they can go in life.”

Wow! No wonder I’m such a schlub. I …

The Marriage of Cause Marketing and Weddings

It’s wedding season and what with Prince William and Catherine Middleton celebrating their second anniversary this month (and the coming birth of their first child) it’s time to think again about the marriage of weddings with cause marketing.

William and Kate’s marriage lead to an avalanche of collectables for sale. You could, for instance, have purchased a knock-off of Kate’s engagement ring, reproductions of the pretty frocks that she wears so well, even a collectible version of the carriage that will take them past St. James’s Park, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and finally to Buckingham Palace for the wedding reception. Plus about a cajillion other really cheesy keepsakes and mementos.

But maybe you don’t want to do that at your wedding.

You might, however, consider using the occasion of your wedding to do what the Royal Couple did and give to a number of causes. Here’s how the official Royal Wedding website puts it at the time:
“Having been touched by the goodwill shown to t…

Tips on Making Your Cause Marketing Collateral More Persuasive

The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database turned up a handbill from a Wendy’s in Arizona for AASK-Arizona, an affiliate for the Wendy’s adoption program called Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in metropolitan Phoenix.

AASK stands for Aid to Adoption of Special Kids. The handbill was positioned on a counter near one of the doorways.

I like the front of the handbill. The four pictures of smiling young fellow named Casey drew me in. But the copy on the back struck me as unpersuasive. See if you agree.

The first paragraph describes Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, an effort by Wendy’s to increase adoptions out of America’s foster care system.

The second paragraph describes that AASK as the affiliate of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in Maricopa County, basically the greater Phoenix region.

So far, so good. The third paragraph is where I think the copy begins to lose its way:
“Through valuable media partnerships, including Wednesday’s Child, AASK is able to touch the hearts of thousands of potential parents annually.” Wed…

Employee Engagement as a Goal of Cause Marketing

Cause marketing is often directed at employees and other internally stakeholders. Cause marketing can help build employee morale and loyalty, improve employee productivity, skills and teamwork and produce a pipeline of future talent.

One well-designed cause marketing effort that focuses closely on employee engagement comes from the Luxottica Group, the Italian eyewear company whose brands in the United States include Ray-Ban, Oakley and Revo along with retail outlets LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut, and Pearle Vision. OneSight, founded by Luxottica in 1988, is a public 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that redistributes millions of eyeglasses a year in more than three dozen countries across the globe.

The World Health Organization estimates that 314 million people suffer from poor but correctable vision. Luxottica says it funds most of OneSight’s administrative costs such that 92 percent of public donations go to fund programs.

Luxottica offers employees the chance to volunteer…with pay…to work f…

Reasons to End a Cause Marketing Relationship

Normally, when it comes to cause marketing I would say that longer relationships are better for sponsor and charity. Think Rolling Stones and U2 not Cream or Soft Cell. That’s because cause marketing is a form of co-branding and like any branding endeavor it takes years to for brands to achieve high customer awareness. Frequently changing partners confuses your customers and stakeholders.

For instance, I guarantee you that even after more than 15 years or so of deep association, in a test of unaided recall relatively few people would be able to identify that Subway Sandwiches and the American Heart Association are co-branded partners.

I’ve written before that lasting corporate-cause relationships are like marriages that require constant maintenance. Or like bank accounts whereto you must make frequent deposits to cover the inevitable withdrawals.

But there are times when it makes sense to end cause marketing relationships.

For causes it’s probably more so a dollars and cents issue than it…

When Sponsors Don't Renew Cool Cause Marketing Campaigns

Although I surely come off as a homme du monde and maybe even a bon vivant, I confess that I spent the first nine years of my life at the edge of a tiny desert hamlet in the American Southwest where I lived across a dirt road from a large cotton field. I lived so close to the field and far enough from town that many’s the morning I was awoken by crop duster airplanes.

My family had been city-folk for three generations before me. Still, as a boy I envied the handsome blue corduroy jackets worn by the members of the Future Farmer’s of America (FFA).

I missed this campaign from Campbell’s in 2009 and 2010 benefiting the FFA. But I came across it while working on the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database. And though Campbell’s hasn’t renewed the campaign, it’s one of my favorite cause marketing efforts of all time.

Called Help Grow Your Soup, in 2010 the campaign restored five barns… chosen by popular vote by people inputting Campbell's Soup UPC codes… in Michigan, Indiana, Maryland and N…

Why Do Corporate Foundations Spread Their Grants so Broadly?

One of the biggest chunks of the local economy where I live comes from the Bingham Canyon Mine, which is also a generous philanthropic donor to hundreds of local charities. But why so many, I ask?

The Bingham Canyon Mine in the southwest corner of Utah’s Salt Lake Valley is said to be the deepest open-pit mine in the world. So deep you can see it from space. On the lip of the pit they have a visitor’s center along with spotting scopes to look into the void at the mining activity.

The mine, owned by Kennecott and its corporate parent Rio Tinto, charges a modest vehicle entrance fee that goes to the Kennecott Utah Copper Visitor’s Center Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private foundation which divvies it up the proceeds among local charities. There’s also a gift shop in the visitor’s center and proceeds from the sales of items there also benefits the Foundation.

The Foundation’s board, comprised of community members who serve without compensation, gets together annually to divvy up the…

Photosharing as Cause Marketing

Download a free app for your Android or Apple mobile device and start uploading pictures to, and the sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, will donate $1 per pic per day to your choice of Save the Children, Safe Kids Worldwide, or Keep America Beautiful.

It took me a couple of beats to realize that Johnson & Johnson, the sponsor of the app and the site, is just seeding a photosharing site. I was looking for the angle… the value in having a bunch of people’s snapshots… but it doesn’t appear to be anything more tricksy than just a photosharing site.

Why photosharing? Because as my friend John Haydon notes in a post from last Fall, among the many flavors of social networking, photosharing is blowing up, especially with the 18-29 demo. It’s also slightly more popular with women than men. This is exactly the people J&J wants to be in front of, even if it's a very soft sell. denominates their donation in terms of specific improvements; newborns helpe…

Why People Can't Remember Your Cause

Grey Matter Research just released the findings of a survey that asked a representative segment of the public what charities they could name. Bad news is, unless your cause is in the first percent of the first percent of the first percent, your charity wasn’t one of them. But of the small number that were, most were active cause marketers.

The top finisher was the Red Cross with 20 percent of respondents naming it. Number two with 11 percent was the Salvation Army. No other nonprofit garnered even five percent in unaided recall, but eight got between 2 and 4 percent of the ‘vote:’ United Way, Goodwill Industries, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, ASPCA, American Cancer Society, YMCA, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

“Scores of individual organizations were named by just one or two people out of over a thousand in the study,” says the press release.

But what about your donors, they know about you, right? “People who have actually given to a non-profit organizati…

Inviting the Geeks to Support Your Cause Marketing

Wired magazine’s website has an intriguing story about the ways fanboys and girls of Dr. Who, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and others actively support charities. But how might your cause tap the support of these self-described geeks?

Chapters of the 501st Legion, whose members dress as characters from Star Wars for events, donate their honorarium for their appearances to charities.

The Harry Potter Alliance does work for children’s hospitals.

Wordbuilders, an organization started and maintained by fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss, has raised $1.7 million for Heifer International over the last four years.

Current Dr. Who star Matt Smith made an appearance in character on the UK’s Red Nose Day telethon.

So how do seek and utilize the support of the geeks for your cause?

Here’s three suggestions:
If you don’t already speak the language of the target group, try immersion. A colleague hated NASCAR until her fundraising job at a children’s hospital in Tennessee forced to learn more about it. She went…

I Have a Bone to Pick With Panera Bread Company

This is awkward, but I have a bone to pick with Panera Bread Company, which along with its franchisees, operates 1,652 bakery-cafes under three different names.

As a cause marketer, what could I possibly have to complain about Panera? The company has a menu full of organic ingredients, including antibiotic-free chicken. Many of their stores give away unsold bread every night to food banks where they operate. The company just launched a new Facebook campaign called Food Chain Reaction that will donate up to 500,000 bowls of their black bean soup to the hungry through Feeding America. And they do all this and are still first rate operators. I’ve never had a bad meal at a Panera.

Moreover, they just launched in Boston their fifth nonprofit Panera Cares Community Café, which would have been called a soup kitchen 20 years ago. Panera Cares Cafes feed people regardless of their ability to pay, although their business model very much requires paying customers.

Panera is a company that truly wa…

Gamified Cause Marketing and Half the Sky

Half the Sky started out as a book about the shocking oppression and exploitation of women… especially in the developing world… from New York Times reporters Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, then it became a multi-part special on PBS and now it’s a Facebook game produced by Games for Change and designed by Frima Studio.

I didn’t think that the PBS special captured the pathos of the book, in part because the way into the TV show was mediated by Hollywood stars; Eve Mendes, Meg Ryan, Olivia Wilde, Diane Lane. The actors could only react to the horrors they saw and heard about and I didn’t think it often worked. I got the sense the actors were sort of helicoptered in, reacted while the cameras rolled and then went back home, sincerely moved perhaps, but not fully able to transfer their heartache to me. It felt forced.

Kristof and WuDunn, by contrast, with just their notepads, have seen firsthand all the horrors depicted in the book, not recounted for the cameras and the actors. As a r…