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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 King Cardiac Foundation. In 2011, the beneficiary was the American Heart Association.

The Woman’s Day ad  which I found in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database gives you all the highlights. The host was Sherri Shepherd of the TV show The View. Mary J. Blige performed. Celebrity stylemaker Tim Gunn sanctioned the event. Dancers from the hit TV show Dancing With the Stars performed a spicy cha-cha. Other sponsors like Campbell’s and Swarovski were recognized. Honorees were awarded.

It was a fancy New York City gala, in other words.

If your heart disease charity was the beneficiary, you’d feel pretty good about what you got from Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards. But if Woman’s Day were willing, the show could be better still and generate even more money.
  • Imagine, for example, if instead of a standard gala fare the show was packaged so that it could air, with commercials, on television. I suspect Oprah’s OWN network is looking for a lot of good programming.
  • Or think about clearing the rights to the songs that Mary J. Blige sang at the show and selling them as a benefit on iTunes.
  • What if you conducted a pre-auction for the right to be coached by and perform with the Dancing With the Stars dancers that night?
  • What if Tim Gunn designed a limited-edition broach or ring or bracelet or outfit with red Swarovski crystals, that was unveiled at the show and then sold in a limited quantity online? People love limited-edition stuff because it lends an air of exclusivity.
  • What if Campbell’s offered a sweepstakes on package of select soups for a chance to attend next year’s show at a celebrity-studded table if you raised more than $5,000 for the American Heart Association?
If you did those things, or better ones, the Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards would have a second life, more money would be raised, and Woman’s Day would win awards at the 2014 Cause Marketing Forum.


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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.

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