Cause Marketing, a commonly used strategy, has proven effective in both deepening brand value and gaining exposure for worthy causes. The general idea of cause [related] marketing involves the cooperative efforts of a “for profit” business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit.
Simple formula? Sure! Far reaching results. You bet…. But “for whom and what are those benefits?” you may ask.
Organizations that associate themselves with causes receive the benefits through that association creating an emotional link between the two. In other words,combining a brand name with the good feelings surrounding a specific cause, can create an emotional bond or charge. You can you see the benefits from this example: Say you are hungry, simply want to fulfill the functional aspect of feeding your hunger. You aren’t particularly desiring a formal dining experience, rather good wholesome food. You are in the midst of making a decision of where to eat, and a light bulb goes off in your head. You remember the comfortable casual family run hamburger joint on the corner. A light flashes…..Perfect! Your mind drifts to the poorly framed photograph of the local little league team they sponsor on the wall. Next your remember the kids smiling faces, the time you spent looking at each face wondering what each of them will be when they grow up. You are reminded of dreams and possibilities and the wonderment of youth. Whatever or where ever it takes you, it’s pleasant. You suddenly are really craving that cheeseburger and fries plate you had there last time…. a wholesome meal, pleasant experience and a friendly retreat. Yeah, that’s what you are going to do, where you are going to eat.
In other words, the perfect art of combining emotion with a buying decision. Yeah, kinda like that.
Next, let’s look at this phenomenon on a much larger scale.
The term “Cause Marketing” was originally attributed to a campaign created by American Express in 1983 that linked card use with raising money and awareness for the local charity, which happened to be the Statue of Liberty. (how’s that for brand POP!) Using the model discussed above, here’s inspiration this campaign:
When you think of American Express, primarily one thinks of the functional benefits of using the card, including convenience, purchasing power, prestige, trust, etc. (Actually the more I think of the American Express brand, I realize they really aren’t the best example since the overall brand perception has been diluted through adding too many product offerings in the past years, but that’s a topic better left for another posting) So in 1983, American Express launched a campaign targeted to both the end costumer and the vendor that accepted American Express card. The idea behind the campaign was to increase card use. For every dollar spent using the card, AMEX would donate 1¢ towards the charity. The campaign itself helped promote the local business while proceeds were raised for the Statue of Liberty Restoration project at the same time. (Win – Win, and brilliant!)? This campaign combined the functional benefits of using American Express’ service (making a purchase the Amex charge card) and the emotional benefit of contributing to a noble and patriotic cause. FEEL GOOD while SPENDING MONEY (=making purchases with the American Express card) Not only was there measurable and trackable results, there was the added bonus of penetrating American Express card holders (the end users) with a good emotional feeling, associated with their product. Delivering an emotional benefits to a customer is actually the goal in this case.
Using this strategy to position, promote and associate a brand with a charitable cause for a common advantage is growing evermore popular. Thus, cause marketing is a type of thoughtful promotion tool involving the mutual labors of a business and a non-profit union for mutual gain. However, the benefits dig much deeper.