Skip to main content

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 is even for sponsoring companies.

In the United States and Canada where charities are granted tax exempt status by the IRS and Canada Revenue Agency and in England and Scotland with the status conferred to Registered Charities, it’s all but immoral for charities to remain involved with a campaign that costs the charity more than it generates. And any charity that remains in a relationship that is “unprofitable” will be rightly second-guessed by its board, the press, and the public.

But there are other reasons for charities or sponsors to “break up the band.”
  • Scandal. When news emerged about the nature of the deal between the American Medical Association and Sunbeam, members of the AMA demanded that the deal be scotched even though doing so eventually cost the AMA some $16 million in court judgments and legal expenses (Sunbeam successfuly sued for breach of contract). The cost of scandal resulting from a bad deal, the AMA's board determined, was greater than the cost of the money.
  • Bankruptcy. If you’ve got a sponsor that has declared bankruptcy it’s potentially an opportunity for a nonprofit partner. After all, in bankruptcy cost-cutting is only one-half of the way out. Companies must also sell their way out and cause marketing may have a role to play in such a scenario. But when a sponsor declares bankruptcy the responsible thing for the charity to do is to go to the sponsor and offer to let them out of their contract.
  • Doesn’t work. What if you try every sort of permutation and still the campaign or relationship doesn’t work? Chances are it’s a bad fit (see below) but even if it just doesn’t work, you may need to end the deal.
  • Bad match. Sometimes customers respond in ways you can’t predict and what seemed like a good fit really isn’t. For instance, it may seem like good deal linking a BBQ grill company with a safety charity. But if customers don’t get the connection, or the cause doesn’t, by itself, have enough affinity to overcome the disconnect, you may have a bad match.
  • Colliding cultures. The sponsor might be too bleeding edge and the charity too staid. Or vice versa. I’ve seen both. Regardless, if the cultures of sponsors and charity don’t share some common ground, then the relationship may be doomed.

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…

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…

An Interview with Cause-Related Marketing Pioneer Jerry Welsh

Jerry Welsh is the closest thing cause marketing has to a father.
In 1983 after a number of regional cause-related marketing efforts, Welsh, who was then executive vice president of worldwide marketing and communications at American Express looked out his window in lower Manhattan at the Statue of Liberty. The Statue was then undergoing a major refurnishing, and in a flash Welsh determined to undertake the first modern national cause marketing campaign.
I say modern because almost 100 years before in January 1885, the Statue of Liberty was sitting around in crates in New York warehouses because the organization building the pedestal ran out of money. And so Joseph Pulitzer, the publisher of the newspaper called The World, proposed a very grassroots solution reminiscent in its own way to Welsh’s cause-related marketing.
Pulitzer ran an editorial promising he would print the name of everyone who donated even a penny. Sure enough pennies, along with dimes and nickels, quarters and dollars, …