It is a well-balanced approach to marketing that delivers an intriguing double benefit. Cause marketing is simply a brand or organization taking on a specific cause or charity to promote and align itself with. The purpose of cause marketing is twofold: to benefit the cause or charity and to benefit the brand. It is a powerful and very flexible approach that can deliver remarkable benefits to both participants. The cause or charity receives a large branding and awareness boost, quite often with a new audience that they had not previously been reaching. The brand gets to show its community focus and present itself as more human and involved as well as ride a bit of the warm and fuzzy capitalism wave.
Wikipedia defines Cause Marketing as:
Cause marketing or cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. The term is sometimes used more broadly and generally to refer to any type of marketing effort for social and other charitable causes, including in-house marketing efforts by non-profit organizations.
At its heart, cause marketing is simply aligning your organization’s mission with its marketing by supporting a worthy cause or charity.
Simple to conceive, difficult to achieve.
Customers today have become accustomed to having their cake and eating it too. Customers want to be a part of why your brand does what it does, not just part of the product purchasing. Most organizations’ mission statements are filled with high minded, altruistic-leaning truisms. Of course, the best mission statements actually align with the organizations’ actions and business practices.
Both big and small brands can take their corporate missions and align them with positive causes and charities to achieve big victories for both parties and for their customers. Here are a few examples of successful cause marketing programs from both big and small brands that you can use to kick-start your own cause marketing initiatives.
Carters Clothes and Scholastic books partnered up with the Pajama Program to bring pajamas and reading books to children. The Pajama Program is a wonderful organization dedicated to delivering new, warm pajamas and books to children in need, many of whom are without parents and/or permanent homes.
Carters and Scholastic got a massive dose of positive press coverage, favorable mentions, and mountains of praise and thanks for their support of the program.
Together the organization and the sponsors helped to donate 460,362 pairs of new pajamas and 532, 959 new books in less than 9 months. And their customers loved it: Carters was able to encourage their customers to donate after Carters launched an in-store and online donation drive benefitting Pajama Program and collected more than $525,000 and 45,000 new pajamas from Carter's generous customers. Carter's donated an additional 45,000 pajamas to match their customers' generosity. Scholastic donated 100,000 books and more than 84,000 pajamas through their ClassroomsCare program.
Chevrolet and One World Futbol Project are on a mission to help educate children -- one virtually indestructible football at a time.
Chevrolet’s aim in supporting the One World Futbol Project is to distribute 1.5 million virtually indestructible footballs over the next three years to impoverished areas, refugee camps and conflict zones. By supporting the sport, Chevrolet and One World Futbol are bringing positive changes to countries around the world by encouraging youth in need to use their passion for sport to solve problems and inspire tolerance. Chevrolet runs a highly engaged Facebook page, Twitter profile, and webpage all designed to get the word out, spread the good vibes, and find new opportunities to donate these cool soccer balls.
They have a dedicated hashtag and an drop-dead simple way to use it to spread their mission.
Just this past Christmas Iovate Health Sciences International and GNC Holdings, Inc did a promotion to benefit One Warm Coat, a national non-profit organization whose mission is to collect coats and distribute them to people, free of charge. One Warm Coat has collected and donated over 4 million coats since 1992. They then took it a step further and engaged with 2013 “The Bachelor," Sean Lowe, and his fiancee, Catherine Giudici, to drive awareness and donations for those in need of winter coats. Nothing like a great use of pop culture to spike awareness for a good cause!
The brands kicked off the program with a $10,000 donation and a good deal of marketing support. They even did a range of mobile and local targeted marketing tactics to extend the campaign.
This intelligent use of the power and nowness of mobile and local combined is what gives this cause marketing campaign its power. Iovate and GNC combined the text promotion campaign and the receipt promotion in local stores to bring the campaign into the everyday lives of their customers while ensuring their message was seen and appreciated by thousands of potential customers.
Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici present a $10,000 donation along with David Jannuzzi, Regional Sales Director, GNC Manhattan New York City, and Vito Sanzone, Chief Marketing Officer, Iovate Health Sciences International, Inc.
One Warm Coat, Iovate, and GNC were beneficiaries of the positive associations of the campaign during the hard, cold winter of 2014. "It has been an honor for Catherine and I to work with Iovate and GNC to launch a program that will help thousands of people stay warm during the cold winter months," Sean Lowe said. "Charity is an essential part of our lives and this is a truly worthy cause."
There are thousands of inspiring, timely, and relevant examples of great brands partnering with remarkable causes and charities and achieving great things together that alone they would have struggled to achieve. For an avalanche of great cause marketing ideas, follow Cause Marketing on Twitter:
— Cause Campaigns (@CauseCampaigns) May 28, 2014
Cause Marketing is a unique and extremely rewarding opportunity to more closely align your organization's mission with your marketing and turn your customers into loyal fans and advocates. Cause marketing is now a permanent and welcome addition to the marketing toolkit.