Return Cause Marketing to the Heart of Your Strategy

Linkedin Google+ Facebook Twitter StumbleUpon Email
haagen dazs.jpg

So many organizations feel like they need bring causes into their marketing, and similarly, need to add social media to the mix. It’s a bit of a checklist game, and thus the quick drive to add a contest with online voting or simply create a cause purchasing campaign with a popular charity like Komen or a safe one like autism.

What’s often missing is an understanding of how causes can positively impact a corporate strategy and culture. Whether it’s furthering technology issues, addressing some of the ills a product creates, or simply rewarding your employees or customers with an investment in a cause that they care about, a smart cause marketing effort can infuse a corporate brand with some well needed positive karma.

In that sense companies need to look at cause marketing — particularly if it involves engaging customers online — as a tool. It’s one that allows the company to demonstrate acts of corporate social responsibility, and enable its stakeholders to feel a part of the larger enterprise. Like any tool cause marketing needs to reflect corporate strategy, and thus help execute it.

So strategy helps justify cause marketing online, but also maximizes opportunities for success. At the same time, it needs those things that make any communication to a stakeholder work — authenticity, transparency into why the organization is doing it, and frankly, well thought out programs that don’t contradict the intent.

Many marketing and nonprofit people critiqued a recent Komen/KFC campaign from both sides of the fence (check out Bill Sledzik’s excellent discussion). The reality was the intent may have been outstanding on both parts: Fight the impact of fried chicken as applied to obesity via one of the most storied brands out there, combating a disease that weight gain provides a contributing factor, and do it with the largest donation ever to that brand ($8 million). But because the money was funded through fried chicken sales as opposed to grilled or other products, it seemed insincere.

Actions need to follow strategic intentions. When the tactical execution does, the results can be quite amazing.

Consider the fantastic success Haagen Dazs has experienced (case study by J.D. Lasica). Bees, in particular honey bees, are disappearing from our world. There are a few reasons scientists are debating, but the impact on our food supply cannot be underestimated.

Haagen-Dazs, which uses honey in its products, decided to combat the issue: “Honey bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of all the foods we eat, including many of the ingredients that define our all-natural ice creams, sorbets, frozen yogurt and bars.” This is a natural tie to the corporate mission, while creating an obvious corporate social responsibility tie. Haagen-Dazs launched a microsite and a Twitcause campaign through the #HelpHoneyBees hashtag, raising $7,000 in two days last November (”Bee Buzz generated: 643,748 tweets”).

Not bad from a branding standpoint, and you never really saw any criticism of Haagen-Dazs for this. It was an obvious win–win-win, for the bees, for customers and for the company. This was an optimal cause marketing program for the 21st century.

Linkedin Google+ Facebook Twitter StumbleUpon Email
  • Joe Waters

    Nice post, Geoff. I love that you brought up the HD campaign to save the Honey Bees. That was really a great campaign, wasn’t it? It was as pure and sweet in its intentions as the honey HD hoped to save and the bees that made it!

    When you look at what HD did, appropriate and effective cause marketing doesn’t seem that difficult, does it?


  • Geoff Livingston

    Ah yes, it looks great! Based on all the flawed campaigns we see, I guess the Heaths were right, “Simple is not easy!”

  • Pingback: susanmcp1 (Susan McPherson)()

  • Pingback: BCollado (Bridgette Collado)()

  • Pingback: LeMulatreGentil (Adam Hymans)()

  • Pingback: conorbyrne (conorbyrne)()

  • Pingback: jdlloyd (jdlloyd)()

  • Pingback: ADHumlen (Anneliza Humlen)()

A New Novel from Geoff Livingston

Want news and an advanced copy of the book?
Your info is never shared

Check Out My Photo Portfolio

Monthly Marketing Mashup

Register for xPotomac Today

Don't miss Mark Schaefer, Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter, Jodi Gersh and Jennifer Nycz Conner, and Andy Gilman at this year's must attend digital marketing event.

MarketingSmarts Podcast

Buy Perseverance Today

Purchase the book on Amazon or iUniverse!

101 Things, a Bucket List

Pacific Sunset

Posts on Other Blogs

Huffington Post

Cision Blog

Inspiring Generosity


The Buzz Bin



My Photos

Nationals Ace Max Scherzer by Geoff Livingston
Unified Scene by Geoff Livingston
Kicking It Old School by Geoff Livingston
Soleil Gets a Haircut by Geoff Livingston
Crister by Geoff Livingston
Korean War Memorial by Geoff Livingston
Explore with Friends by Geoff Livingston
Men in White by Geoff Livingston
Capitol Hill at Dusk by Geoff Livingston
Sunny Side Up (Capitol Building Reflection) by Geoff Livingston
Super Blood Moon Part 2 by Geoff Livingston