Cause marketing isn’t a new idea. As early as 1973, 7-Eleven took a forward-thinking marketing step to create an Endangered Species Cup. Thanks to setting aside 1 cent from the sale of each cup, they donated over $250,000 to the National Wildlife Federation timed with the passion of the Endangered Species Act. On an even grander scale, in 1976 Marriott Corporation and March of Dimes showed us what was possible when charities and business worked together. Big wins for media and PR, donor awareness and event buzz helped raise $2.4 million for March of Dimes, generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in free PR for both organizations and stimulated attendance of 2.2 million people for Marriott’s grand opening event.
Cause marketing efforts between brands and causes continued to trickle out of conference rooms, but it wasn’t until 1982 when the Susan G Komen Foundation truly leveraged the idea of matching consumer based causes with businesses, that we saw the power of cause based marketing take off.
Cause Marketing Today
Today, cause based marketing is commonplace for brands both large and small. Campaigns support larger community issues, or causes that are deeply personal to the brand or part of the ethos of the brand. Either way, consumer research studies show that when price and quality are comparable, 89% of Americans would switch to a brand associated with a good cause.
Today companies are expected to not just do good – but be good. Consumers interact with brands all day long in every aspect of their lives. They act with their wallet and expect brands to be socially responsible and good corporate citizens. A brand survey by Edelman showed that more than half of consumers consider themselves to be belief-driven buyers. As political and ethical issues heat up and social media creates easy sharing platforms, it becomes easy for consumers to create positive brand buzz or even boycotts on the flipside.
Taking a Role in Change
Brands are living breathing things, created and occupied by real people. Therefore the expectation is those brands should have an opinion and a role in community and change. Consumers expect the brands they support to care about the same things they care about. If they don’t, they will find another brand that does.
From 7-Eleven and Marriott’s earliest ideas and success, brands continue to show us creative ways to bring attention to important social issues like homelessness, bullying, climate change and the disaster of ocean plastic. Here are just a few recent examples.
We worked with Rainier Fruit on their Pears for Pairs campaign that raised awareness of homelessness in the U.S. and also raised funds to purchase socks for homeless charities around the country. Rainier Fruit has a mission to live Wholesome to the Core and support ideas that give back in communities where they do business and in just two months contributed $20,000 to the Hanes Charity Sock Drive.
Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s has always been a company focused on socially responsible issues, but in the last couple of years they have placed their flag deep in the issue of climate change as one of the many issues they care about. Their website and social content shares information about climate change, information on how to register to vote, and ways to get active in climate change politics along with other social issues.
With the rise of social media, bullying has become a pervasive issue nearly 24 hours a day impacting kids everywhere. Kudos to Green Giant for this clever issue driven campaign “Raise a Giant” that shared tips on how to talk to your kids about bullying.
Corona also did a great job of connecting their brand personality to an important social cause. More often than not when we think of Corona we think of tropical beaches so it makes sense for Corona to address the issue of ocean plastic in an awareness campaign called Wave of Waste. Corona created art installations with billboards and messaged recycling containers in six international cities to bring awareness to the eight million metric tons of plastic waste that are dumped into the ocean each year.
These are just some of the brands doing exciting things and living their values. It’s time to ask yourself, what is at the heart of your brand. What do you care about most? It’s more than selling a singular item, it’s being part of a lifestyle and greater community that we are all part of. Here’s to being good corporate citizens and making a difference in 2019.
Are you ready to put your values into action?
Looking to create your own cause based marketing program or launch a values based awareness campaign? Drop us an email at Melinda@fulltiltmarketing.net