It’s aimed at consumers that want to “do something good” with their purchase.
Needless to say, it should not infringe on their lifestyle.
Cause marketing campaigns peddle products while contributing to a worthy cause.
An example is the Red Motorazr cellphone of Sprint.
Motorola and Sprint contribute part of the revenues of each phone purchased to Bono’s Project (RED) to fight AIDS and other diseases in Africa.
Apple quickly followed with its red iPod Nano, retailing at $199 in the US. From each sale, Apple donates $10 to the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa.
Fashion brands are especially good at cause marketing.
Way back in 1990s, Italian fashion label Benetton launched its "Benetton Clothing Redistribution Project".
It was a clothes drive, regardless of maker, that benefited charitable organizations like the Red Cross and Gifts in Kind America.
For the last decade, cause marketing has gone mainstream.
Consumers are used to shop and save the world at the same time.
Companies are selling products and a clean conscience. Wherever you turn, it’s there.
But is comes to a point that it’s not effective anymore.
The pink ribbons of the breast cancer cause are all over the place, triggering a backlash (or "pinklash"). In such cases, both product and cause suffer.
So what are the key success factors of effective cause marketing?
- Define your marketing goals
What do you want to establish as a company: reaching potential customers, increasing sales, brand recognition, PR?
To reach their target audience for their next-generation Xbox and Samsung HDTV, Microsoft and Samsung Electronics launched a nationwide (USA) cause-marketing program entitled "Samsung's Hope For Education."
The program will deliver more than $2 million in much needed technology and software products, to elementary, middle and high schools across America through an on-line essay contest.
- Make it part of your overall marketing strategy
A good example is Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
They launched a three year, global partnership with Special Olympics, in which Starwood Hotels will be the exclusive hotel sponsor of Special Olympics and the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China. In addition, Starwood will donate $50 dollars to Special Olympics for every Westin Heavenly Bed, Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed and Four Points by Sheraton Four Comfort bed sold through Starwood retail channels, until June 30, 2007.
- Define who your target audience is, and which causes appeal to them
The company Clorox markets its products to the global adult population.
They cleverly chose a cause appealing to this broad target audience. They will donate a small percentage of the retail purchase price of its bleach products to the Red Cross.
Barclay's Taking Care of Christmas 2000 campaign benefited four charities chosen by Barclays' customers as the most popular causes.
- Choose a cause that fits your business
A perfect example is Radio Taxis, a carbon-neutral, London-based taxi company, boasting more than 2,500 cars.
It measures the carbon pollutants its 2,500 cars emit, and then invests proportionally in air-cleansing projects, from forestry to renewable energy.
- Define the timeline- how long do you want the cause campaign to run?
Target Corp. operated a temporary, “pop-up” Target store, located on New York’s Times Square for 30 days. All profits made during this period were marked for breast cancer research.
- Make the relationship between company and cause clear to the public
Vodafone communicated the following about its relationship with the National Autistic Society.
“As communication lies at the heart of everything that Vodafone does, it made sense to partner with a cause that is closely related to communication. As the leading provider of mobile communications, Vodafone has a unique opportunity to employ its strengths, size and marketing power to: help the NAS improve the lives of people with autism; bring the issues to a wider audience; increase the capacity and accessibility of NAS services.”
- Be aggressive in your corporate communications and public relations
Companies like Ben & Jerry's and Avon are good examples.
- Be creative – stand out in the cause marketing crowd
The best example of creative cause marketing is the Italian fashion label Diesel.
To promote their apparel, Diesel gives a positive spin on global warming.
Its ads show Manhattan buildings and Mount Rushmore’s presidential faces half-submerged in water from melted glaciers; Venice and Paris are tropical and the Great Wall is covered in desert sands. Against these surreal backgrounds, Diesel's fashionable and immaculately dressed models live glamorous lives, having camel rides, relaxing on a yacht or applying suntan lotion to their partner’s toned back.
To fight global warming, (potential) customers are invited to visit the Diesel.com website to buy are encouraged to by Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” on DVD.
The creativity of Diesel is two-fold.
First of all, its campaign is wonderfully tongue-in-cheek funny and gets the global warming issue across with humor.
Secondly, Diesel doesn’t pretend to be a crusader – as its creative director Wilbert Das puts it: "We are a fashion brand. We want to sell product. We don't do anything more or less."
Diesel’s cause marketing will definitely support its main cause – making profit!