“Here’s my problem: helping out can be very intoxicating, especially when you’re good at it, as Panera is. But as I often say in this space, generous people are no good to causes if they give until they’re broke. Cause marketers need sponsors that are cash cows. That is, companies that have a sustainable business model that can be ‘milked’ regularly.The idea of the Meal of Responsibility was that the poor could pay little and the more affluent could pay more. It was an extension of the five Panera Cares Cafes that have a pay-what-you-can model across the entire menu. The suggested price was $6. The menu item was available only at 48 Panera stores in the St. Louis area, where the company is headquartered.
Before Panera, everybody’s poster-child for progressive corporate social responsibility was Timberland, the shoe and apparel company.
But after riding high through much of the 1980s and 1990s, Timberland’s product line grew a little stale in the double-aughts. Growth stalled. Facing rising material costs and lower profit margins, Timberland sold itself to VF in 2011 for $2 billion.
Cause marketing and corporate social responsibility provide a kind of insurance effect to companies that practice it. But it’s not the kind of insurance that writes companies a check after a bad year or two.”
Labels: Actual Cause Marketing Results, cause marketing, Panera, Panera Cares Community Cafe, Reporting Cause Marketing Results