Cause Marketing has been booming and along with it has come some criticism and objections to using it as selfish self promotion rather than as an opportunity to give back to a favorite cause, to the point of even suggesting that it is "dead". But there are many examples of companies that have been exemplary in representing a true giving partnership. Joe Waters of Selfish Giving, defined cause marketing as: "a partnership between a non-profit and a for-profit for mutual profit", to which he has added several categories amongst which includes: message promotion.
But whose message? One would think the partnership would be one of somewhat balanced messages about the cause and the business that is giving back the cause. Here are examples of cause marketing via message promotion that puts the charity squarely in the forefront and outweighs the time allotted to the for-profit's message.
I spend a lot of time in my car, as many Californians do, where I first heard what was presumably another ad on the news station. It sounded more like a public service piece, the kind when stations offer free air time to charities. This ad provided information about the plight of foster children in our local communities. A foster child spoke about the challenges they face on a daily basis, and the kind of the support that they need for their well being. For the longest time there was no mention of any business associated with this ad, this was for most part a campaign to build awareness for this cause. I knew which company was sponsoring this as I had featured Sleep Train on this blog last year.
Towards the end Sleep Train did make known their sponsorship, by requesting that customers help support their program for foster children with their donation of shoes, clothing, backpacks and other necessary items at their participating stores. They also directed listeners to find out more about foster children on their link on the Sleep Train website.
No mention of mattresses, or of their stores, no sales pitch or special offers. Only at the end you heard their recognizable little jingle and the toot-toot.
Another ad I heard not too long ago began in a similar way, putting the cause first. The president of the Peninsula Humane Society talked about the work they do to help save stray and forgotten animals. Towards the end, the sponsoring company Pet Food Express mentioned their ongoing support of this organization with funding, volunteering and in-kind donations of pet food and supplies.You can check out on their giving back page other causes they support.
It's expensive to pay for media advertising, ( I know, I used to sell advertising space). As a result it is rare to hear and learn about local charities and causes on radio. They cannot afford to pay for this kind of marketing. By sponsoring media ads for the charities, businesses have give back to the cause the great gift of increasing awareness and presumably generating more donations to the cause.
Yes, the business gets a bit of the air time for the brief mention of their name. But the most positive thing they that have received out this partnership is a great big "Toot-toot" and hurrah, for giving the cause the opportunity for promoting their important message.