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Cause Marketing Saves Subaru Money and Generates $5 million for 5 Charities

Subaru of America is running third annual end-of-year cause marketing campaign called ‘Share the Love,’ which has helped the brand grow through the recession, increase its market share and decrease its incentive costs, all while generating substantial donations to five respected charities.

The campaign is wonderfully simple. Buy or lease a new Subaru before Jan 3, 2011 and Suburu will donate $250 up to $5 million total to the ASPCA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and the Ocean Conservancy.

The owner/leaser determines which charity gets the money. Subaru even allows you to split the money between the charities in percentages you decide. In the event certain new owners don’t express a preference the $250 is donated equally among all five charities. In campaigns like this that benefit multiple charities, I’ve often advocated the ability to split the donation.

Subaru also gets kudos on its website for pointing people to ways they can help the five charities in addition to buying or leasing a new Subaru.

In the wake of the first successful Share the Love campaign in December 2008, Tim Mahoney, SVP and chief marketing officer of Subaru told the 2009 Chicago Auto Show that the campaign actually saved Subaru money.

“We funded this out of our incentive budget,” Mahoney said. “Our incentive costs actually went down in December (2008), year over year. So it was a way of taking the resources we have and spreading them to organizations that could use it. And at the end of the day we raised a lot of money. A lot of money. Which makes me very happy and proud to be associated with it.”

That first effort generated $4.6 million for ASPCA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and the National Wildlife Foundation. The National Wildlife Foundation was subsequently replaced by the Ocean Conservancy.

Subaru has now donated close to $10 million.

While car sales have been growing in 2010. In 2008 industry saw declines of 18% and Subaru was the only full-line brand to actually grow, Mahoney told the Chicago Auto Show. Thanks in part to that first Share the Love event in 2008, Subaru’s market share approached 2%, their highest level ever and the brand surpassed Buick, Cadillac and Volvo in sales.

The ads in 2008 were derived directly from the kinds of bumper stickers that Subaru owners display. The 2010 ads are a couple of steps away from that, but you can still see the connections. They both say that Subaru owners care.

This is a strong campaign from Subaru that is appropriate, well-wrought, and is plainly working for the company and the charities. Bravo Subaru of America!

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Cause Marketing

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KFC Concept Restaurant Gives a Nod to Cause Marketing for Local Causes

KFC, a unit of Yum Brands, is testing a new quick-serve restaurant version of the fried chicken outlet and among the changes is that its cause marketing efforts will be much more local, according to Anne Fuller, senior director of development for KFC eleven.

The KFC eleven test store is in Louisville, Kentucky, KFC’s headquarters. When it opens August 5, 2013, it will feature rice bowls, flatbreads, salads, KFC original recipe chicken among other items, plus sides. A second test location is set to open in Louisville before year’s end. The 11 in KFC eleven is a salute to the 11 herbs and spices in their original recipe chicken.

The trade-dress for the test store includes lamp lighting, digital signage with community news, and artwork from local artists.

Why step into the quick serve space? Fuller answered a reporter from QSRweb.com this way: “People love KFC but it’s not a frequent choice for many guests for some reason. We wanted to create a broad and balanced menu that could maybe get more frequency.”

In short, you and I don’t eat at KFC often enough, as far as KFC is concerned.

It would be fun to parse that out a little bit, but instead let’s talk about KFC eleven’s emphasis on local cause marketing.

Says, Fuller, “Another thing we’re doing is tying fundraising back into the community. So for opening day, we’re going to donate 11 percent of sales to the local chapter of Junior Achievement. We’re also open to having local groups sign up for a fundraiser night when 11 percent of sales will go to their causes.” KFC should send me a check, because I recommend this very approach in this space in 2011.

In the past KFC has done cause marketing with Komen, which the cognoscenti hated. KFC also has an in-house effort called KFC Colonel’s Scholars, which awards college scholarships to high school students with an entrepreneurial bent. Pizza Hut, another Yum company has raised more than $115 million for the World Food Programme. Pizza Hut has also long supported literacy efforts. Taco Bell, the third major Yum brand, has an all-purpose cause campaign for teen development.

Of all of them, the World Food Programme effort from Pizza Hut is the splashiest in part because it features Christina Aguilera as the face of the campaign. Pizza Hut has invested a lot in the effort, including encouraging employee volunteerism on behalf of the World Food Programme.

No doubt there are some areas where Yum wields great influence over the choices its brands make… logistics, for instance… and some where the brands have wide latitude. In this case I wonder which it is.

That is, did the KFC eleven development group go ultra-local in their cause marketing efforts because the store’s branding has a local emphasis? Or did they find what research and experience has long shown; people still prefer to support local causes over distant ones?

Cause-Related Marketing does a world of good. Causerelatedmarketing.biz is dedicated to highlighting and dissecting the best and the worst cause-related marketing promotions and campaigns.
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Five Steps To Nurture a 30-Year Cause Marketing Relationship

Last Monday, July 22, 2013, March of Dimes released the annual results of its campaign with Kmart… now in its thirtieth year… and thereby begged the question, what does it takes to have a multi-decade cause marketing relationship between a cause and a sponsor?

In the most recent year, Kmart,the discount retailer, donated $7.4 million to the March of Dimes, bringing the 30-year total to nearly $114 million. March of Dimes works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Too many cause marketing relationships, in my estimation, resemble speed-dating more than long-term marriage. There can be good reasons for short-term cause marketing relationships. But most causes and sponsors benefit more from long-term marriages than short-term hookups, the main benefit being continuity. Cause marketing trades on the trust that people, usually consumers, put in the cause and the sponsor. The longer the relationship lasts the more trust is evidenced.

There’s also a sponsor finding cost that is not inconsiderable. Churn in cause marketing relationships, like anywhere else, is expensive while engendering loyalty is almost always cheaper than finding a new sponsors.    

But on to the question at hand, how do you nurture a sponsor-cause relationship so that it can last 20 or 30 years or longer?

  1. Set the expectation for a long-term relationship right from the start. That is, tell prospective partners that so long as both parties continue to benefit you want a long-term relationship.
  2. Build a web of relationships at all levels of both organizations. People will follow the lead of the CEO, so her commitment is absolutely necessary. But it can go the other way, too. That is, sometimes CEOs follow the lead of the lower and mid-level people. Bear in mind that over the last 30 years Kmart has traveled a rocky road and has been through a half dozen CEOs. In 2004 Kmart merged with Sears. If the relationship with March of Dimes was entirely top-down driven, it almost certainly would have ended well before hitting the 30-year mark.
  3. Keep campaign elements relevant, but don’t change things for its own sake. Earlier this year the Cause Marketing Forum looked at cause marketing at retail and found that the biggest chunk of fundraising efforts came from paper icons, coin canisters and change roundup efforts. That stuff has been around since since Gen-Y was in diapers. You aren’t doing your job if you aren’t actively testing new cause marketing ideas and approaches. But you aren’t meeting your fiduciary responsibilities if all you do is chase the latest cause marketing fads. 
  4. Make sure there’s an emotional component to the relationship between the parties. People and companies will give of their time or money once to a cause because they think it’s the smart thing to do. But the only way they’ll keep giving is if they have an emotional connection to the cause. Causes need to make sense to sponsors and their customers, but they have to have emotional appeal to engender a multi-decade relationship.
  5. Track, test, document, and give thanks. A cause and its sponsor both better be able to explain to anyone who asks why their relationship works and what they get out of it. That means tracking results. Dollars are easy to track, but they shouldn’t be the only thing being tracked. In its press release, March of Dimes listed four ways in which Kmart makes a difference to babies and moms. These things have to be documented, otherwise they’ll be lost to the sands of time and the forgetfulness of human memory. Finally, when I say ‘thanks’ I’m not only talking about causes thanking their sponsors. Sponsors should also express their gratitude to their cause partners. The fact that the cause is frequently the junior partner in a cause marketing relationship doesn’t absolve them from expressing their heartfelt thanks, because they derive benefit from the relationships too. 
Cause-Related Marketing does a world of good. Causerelatedmarketing.biz is dedicated to highlighting and dissecting the best and the worst cause-related marketing promotions and campaigns.
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July 24, A Day to Celebrate Pioneers Everywhere

Today my adopted state of Utah celebrates Pioneer Day. It’s a founder’s day celebration that commemorates the day when a hardy band of 151 settlers from the distant east first landed in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, not even a year behind the star-crossed Donner Party, which had traversed basically the same route.

Pioneer Day is a state holiday that we celebrate like a second ‘Fourth of July’ with pancake breakfasts, parades, BBQs, and fireworks after dark.

From July 24, 1847, when the vanguard party arrived, until the time when the rails were linked by the transcontinental railroad at Promotory Point Utah in 1869, about 70,000 people made the trek to Intermountain West. They rode in wagons, pushed handcarts and walked, driven largely by religious faith and fervor.

And while the the settlement of the American West was accomplished by tens of thousands who made their way along the Oregon or Sante Fe Trails, only the Utah Pioneers built fords and ferries and roads, and planted grain for the Pioneers behind them. A few hundred served a stint in the US Army as volunteers; a handful of whom were at Sutter’s Mill, California when gold was discovered in 1848.

But unlike Nevada, California and Colorado, the settlement of Utah wasn’t motivated by gold or silver like the California Gold Rush or Leadville in Colorado or the Comstock in Nevada. And unlike my home state of Arizona, the settlement of Utah was marked more often by mutual cooperation than by rugged individualism; if they were anything, the Utah Pioneers were careful and punctilious planners.

But there were notable and tragic failures, too. In 1856 two handcart companies with about 1,000 people total left too late in the season from Iowa. An early snowstorm struck the companies on the high plains of Wyoming and almost 20 percent of the group died from starvation or exposure.

Wallace Stegner, the fine historian and Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist, wrote this about the ill-fated Martin and Willie Handcart companies:

“Perhaps their suffering seems less dramatic because the handcart pioneers bore it meekly, praising God, instead of fighting for life with the ferocity of animals and eating their dead to keep their own life beating, as both the Fremont and Donner parties did. . . . But if courage and endurance make a story, if human kindness and helpfulness and brotherly love in the midst of raw horror are worth recording, this half-forgotten episode of the Mormon migration is one of the great tales of the West and of America.”

The Valley they were coming to was a forbidding place with high mountains on three sides and a lake eight times saltier than the ocean on the fourth side. Mountain men and Catholic priests who’d seen it told the Pioneers that the Valley couldn’t be settled. Certainly the Donner Party saw nothing that made them want to stay even though they were still facing the Sierras so late in the season. Local legend holds that when the Pioneers arrived there were no trees in the Valley itself, although I doubt that.

The Salt Lake Valley is about the same latitude as New York City, but about 4500 feet higher in elevation. The high altitude and the northerly longitude means that the growing season is short. I’ve been here when we had snow in September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May and June.

Because the Salt Lake Valley is on the eastern end of the rain shadow cast by the High Sierras, Salt Lake City gets less than 10 inches of rain a year. Only the prodigious snowmelt trapped by the mountains to the east of the Salt Lake Valley makes the place habitable. One of the things I’ve long admired about the Utah pioneers is that they found all the water flowing in the Valley and out of the many canyons about six weeks after they’d arrived. This in a Valley about half the size of Rhode Island.

As a transplant to Utah, I have come admire those hardy and resilient Pioneers. Like Isaac Newton memorably said of others, we “stand on the shoulders of giants.”

So please join me in toasting Pioneers… of Utah, of cause marketing, and everywhere else where being first was once an invitation to get shot at, or to suffer privations and sacrifice, or to face unspeakable choices like the Donner Party.

Because even in 2013 the world still needs pioneers willing to work to make the world a better place.

Cause-Related Marketing does a world of good. Causerelatedmarketing.biz is dedicated to highlighting and dissecting the best and the worst cause-related marketing promotions and campaigns.
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Kaizen and Cause Marketing

When translated into English, the Japanese word Kaizen is typically rendered as “continuous improvement.” That is, to keep working on your processes… implementing small and oftentimes cheap improvements… to make them better and better. Few companies or nonprofits… in Japan or anywhere else… are likely to survive if they don’t practice some version of kaizen. And it’s precisely the word to describe what Toyota’s marketing department practiced with its cause marketing effort called “Meals Per Hour,” which is a video about the people of Rockaways, New York in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.

Rockaways is a thin peninsula in Queens, New York that faces the Atlantic, sorta like a barrier island. As the crow flies, it’s only five or six miles from the center of Brooklyn. But unless you’re a crow it’s a little remote for New York City. And so when Sandy hit, the Rockaways were devastated, what with all that ocean frontage. And getting food relief to them was a challenge.

It was made all the more challenging because the food bank delivering food to the Rockaways wasn’t as efficient as it needed to be. People in the Rockaways waited in line for food for hours. Putting each box together took volunteers three minutes. Sometimes the food bank would run out of food before helping every family, even though their delivery truck had been full.

Meals Per Hour describes how Toyota dispatched a couple of efficiency experts to teach the Toyota Production System, the company’s own version of kaizen to the Metro branch of the New York Food Bank serving the Rockaways.

The video explains how they suggested simple ways to improvement the system, so that the Metro branch was able to get more boxes on the truck, and pack them in just 11 seconds! The end result was the needy residents of the Rockaways were served better and faster.

But this post isn’t about the kaizen of the Metro Food Bank it’s about the kaizen of Toyota’s marketing department after they had released the video.

Toyota set up the video such that every view generated a meal for the New York Food Bank, ending today. Toyota’s goal was 1 million views and 1 million meals. When I watched it last night the viewcount on YouTube was 1,000,001, I kid you not.

Toyota activated it with paid media. Paid search, for instance. But the ‘Watch One, Give One’ approach quickly paid off and Toyota’s marketers decided to reroute the budget for campaign activation to the Food Bank.

“Once the documentary launched and we saw the amount of organic pick-up, we re-allocated our paid media dollars to fund additional donations to [meals nonprofit] Food Bank,” Marjorie Schussel, Toyota’s Corporate Marketing Director, told Adweek. “Today, there is only a small amount of paid search on targeted terms allocated to support Meals Per Hour.”

In other words, not only was the video about kaizen the cause marketing promotion became about kaizen, too.

Cause-Related Marketing does a world of good. Causerelatedmarketing.biz is dedicated to highlighting and dissecting the best and the worst cause-related marketing promotions and campaigns.
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A Punch List for Charity Cause Marketers Looking for Sponsors

New research released this week finds that women are more price sensitive than men on almost every product and service category. Since cause marketing has been shown to help companies preserve pricing power, and since women are more responsive to cause marketing than men, the research is a virtual punch list for charities looking for sponsors who need help.

The research… called Women, Power and Money… comes from FleishmanHillard and Hearst Magazines and was conducted by Ipsos.

Among other questions, Women, Power and Money asked women and men to rate how important getting low prices is to them in 12 broad categories of goods and services: automobiles, household supplies, food/groceries, household appliances, personal care items/toiletries, vacations, fashion apparel and accessories, technology, watches or jewelry, household furnishings and décor, financial services/investments, beauty/personal grooming items.

You can plainly see the influence of Hearst Magazines on this list of questions. Hearst, which publishes women’s magazines including O, The Oprah Magazine, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Town & Country, and Women’s Day, would plainly be interested in knowing how readers feel in  those categories because they all represent major magazine advertisers.

In all but that last category, beauty/personal grooming items, more than 50 percent of women said that it was extremely/very important to get the lowest price. And in all but two categories… watches and jewelry and financial services/investments… women were more value conscious than men.

All of this spells opportunity for charities to me. Sixty-eight percent of women say that price matters a lot to them when buying a car. No car company loves that news. But well-designed cause marketing can help companies preserve pricing power.

For instance, Subaru does cause marketing and they have reported that their annual end-of-year Share the Love sales event saves the company money, increases market share, and preserves pricing power. Other auto companies including Ford, Chevy, and Volvo also do cause marketing, but none of them report Subaru-like levels of efficacy. Savvy, well-positioned charities could approach the car companies offering something more like what Subaru does.

Or, they could treat these results from Women, Power and Money as a punch list and go after sponsors in each category telling them that part of their goal for the campaign is to help the companies preserve pricing power. What company wouldn’t want a cause partner like that?     

Finally, Women, Power and Money also found that “values” considerations were important to women and men when it came to brands. Sixty-nine percent of women preferred to do business with brands that treat employees fairly, 54 percent want to do business with environmentally-friendly brands, 47 percent want to do business with brands that support the local community, and 29 percent want brands to do business with causes or charities.

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Panera Takes its Meal of Responsibility Back to the Drawing Board

Back in April 2013 I wrote about Panera Bread Company’s groundbreaking Meal of Responsibility, a nutritious bowl of turkey chili with 850 calories that invited people to pay for it what they could afford. Last week the company reported that they’ve pulled the menu item and are retooling it.

At the time I wrote

“Here’s my problem: helping out can be very intoxicating, especially when you’re good at it, as Panera is. But as I often say in this space, generous people are no good to causes if they give until they’re broke. Cause marketers need sponsors that are cash cows. That is, companies that have a sustainable business model that can be ‘milked’ regularly.

Before Panera, everybody’s poster-child for progressive corporate social responsibility was Timberland, the shoe and apparel company.

But after riding high through much of the 1980s and 1990s, Timberland’s product line grew a little stale in the double-aughts. Growth stalled. Facing rising material costs and lower profit margins, Timberland sold itself to VF in 2011 for $2 billion.    

Cause marketing and corporate social responsibility provide a kind of insurance effect to companies that practice it. But it’s not the kind of insurance that writes companies a check after a bad year or two.”

The idea of the Meal of Responsibility was that the poor could pay little and the more affluent could pay more. It was an extension of the five Panera Cares Cafes that have a pay-what-you-can model across the entire menu. The suggested price was $6. The menu item was available only at 48 Panera stores in the St. Louis area, where the company is headquartered.

During the test phase Panera served 15,000 of the meals, but few needy people participated because the St. Louis Panera locations are mainly in middle-class and affluent areas.

Moreover, says Ron Shaich, Panera’s founder, the marketing wasn’t up to snuff. “We were very capable of raising the level of awareness about food security in short spurts,” Shaich told the Associated Press, but employees stopped explaining the concept to customers as the in-store marketing changed. “It seemed to fall into the background,” Shaich said. “We decided the best thing to do was pull it and retool it.”

The Meal of Responsibility will return to Panera in the winter as a seasonal offering.

I think there’s a lesson to be learned here, namely the power of testing your cause marketing ideas with actual customers in real-life situations to see how they…and you…respond. The tech industry calls it “validated learning,” a phrase coined by Eric Ries, the author of the book “The Lean Startup.”

Panera didn’t fail with the Meal of Responsibility, at least not yet.

Cause-Related Marketing does a world of good. Causerelatedmarketing.biz is dedicated to highlighting and dissecting the best and the worst cause-related marketing promotions and campaigns.
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Millennials and Cause Marketing

Telefonica, the big Madrid-based telecom, released an opinion survey this week of Millennials in 27 countries and six regions, asking them, among other questions, “do you think you can make a difference?”

What constitutes a Millennial is open for discussion, but Telefonica picked people 18-30. Gen-Y, as they are also called, is a huge generation important to both marketers and nonprofits. In the U.S. alone there may be 80 million of these Echo-Boomers (another name for them), depending on when you set the start and finish dates for the generation. That’s bigger than the Baby Boomer generation was in the United States. As the Millennials progress in their education and careers, get married, buy houses, have children, one theory holds that they could boost the world’s economy just by dint of their size, just like the Boomers did.

Some versions of the question were political, as in, “One person’s participation does make a difference in your current political system.” Globally, 45 percent agreed with that statement.

But when asked the question about who can make a difference at the local level, globally 62 percent agreed with the statement that “I believe I can make a local difference.” In Latin America and North America 82 percent agreed with that statement.

Telefonica asked Millennials about whether they thought they could make a difference on a global scale. Here the Millennials were more chary. Globally, 40 percent agreed with the statement that “I believe I can make a global difference.” Millennials in Latin America were again the most hopeful with 62 percent agreeing with the statement.

So what does this all mean?

H.L. Mencken the acid-penned satirist and social critic once wrote that, “no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” With regard to Millennials I’d turn that around and say, “no marketer ever went broke making young people feel empowered.” Telefonica’s survey suggests that Millennials do want to make a difference and they feel like they can do that best at the local level.

If your target market includes Millennials, you should play to that.

Cause-Related Marketing does a world of good. Causerelatedmarketing.biz is dedicated to highlighting and dissecting the best and the worst cause-related marketing promotions and campaigns.
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Can You Cause Market to Men?

In the Summer of 2011 results starting coming out from the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study and among the headlines was women are generally more responsive to cause marketing than men, providing further confirmation of what many have long suspected.

But men aren’t absent from the cause marketing equation. I asked the Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) at Georgetown University, which authored the study, to parse out responses from men on key issues and they kindly obliged.

Cause marketing targeted to men is a topic of some interest to cause marketers. Cause marketing is a form of sponsorship. Its biggest rival for sponsorship dollars comes from sports, which as a whole is about seven times larger than cause marketing. Men constitute the usual target market for sports. In short, men participate in sponsorship in a big way. But cause marketers are still learning how to target men.

The topic of men and cause marketing also came up at a recent Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago. Mike Swenson, president of Crossroads, the PR arm of the independent agency Barkley in Kansas City, blogged about the session on his fine blog Citizen Brand.

Barkley’s own research on the topic of men and cause marketing suggests, in Mike’s words, that “men do have a heart.”

So how do cause marketers get men into the cause marketing tent, how do we get them to act and how do we know when their involved?

The answers are intriguing and in some cases suggests new entres into the psyches of men when it comes to cause marketing.

The CSIC study asked, “How men first get involved with a cause?”

  •     Talking to others about it 39%
  •     Donating money 38%
  •     Learning more about the issue and its impact 35%
  •     Signing a petition for the cause 25%
  •     Donating personal items (clothes, points, hair, etc) 23%
  •     Buying products/services from companies who support the cause 14%

One of the conclusions that Swenson draws is that the best way to get to men is to ask them to do something. That’s probably sound. Men and boys bond with each other by doing stuff together. It’s likely they will best bond with a cause in similar ways. Although the CSIC study also demonstrates that men are as willing to practice checkbook philanthropy as they are to support a cause by doing.

If cause marketers are serious about targeting men, they need a better understanding of what men are about when it comes to supporting causes.

Cause-Related Marketing does a world of good. Causerelatedmarketing.biz is dedicated to highlighting and dissecting the best and the worst cause-related marketing promotions and campaigns.
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Making Your Cause Marketing Promotion Clear and Understandable

In the fall of 2012 the New York Attorney General’s office released Five Best Practices for Transparent Cause Marketing. The first one was “clearly describe the promotion.” We might assume that the AG was speaking only to marketers with malintent (to use the neologism). But being clear and understandable can also be a problem for marketers with good intent too.

Case in point: This coming weekend June 28-29 Dave Matthews Band is doing a two-day concert at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey. The promoter of the concert is Reverb, which is a 501(c)(3) with a mission to make concerts more sustainable. Reverb frequently partners with other nonprofits in the tours it promotes. For the Dave Matthews Band concert in Camden the nonprofit partner is the Food Bank of South Jersey. Reverb asks that fans bring non-perishable food with them to donate to the food bank.

That’s a promotion we’ve all seen and can understand, right?

But, amazingly, the press release issued by Reverb and the Food Bank of South Jersey manages to be confusing and unclear. Here’s the pertinent paragraph:

“To come to the concert, fans are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to donate as they enter. Additional support will come from the Dave Matthews Band self-labeled seed packets which sell for $5.00 each. The proceeds from these seed packets will go to purchase fresh produce from a local farmer. That produce will go to the Food Bank of South Jersey.”

That first sentence sounds as if you can enter the concert for the price of a non-perishable food item, which most certainly is not the case. If you show up on Friday with a can of food but without a ticket, no Dave Matthews Band for you. This is a simple food drive, not a full-blown benefit concert.

So what’s the deal with the seed packets? Well, as the website explains, Dave Matthews Band has lent its name to a packet of basil seeds sold at the concert’s Eco-Village. Donate $5 to Reverb and you’ll get the packet of basil seeds. You’ll also be entered to win a rafting trip from the Wilderness Society.

Not everyone likes The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Critics find it too prescriptive. But two of their prescriptions still make sense to me; “make every word tell,” and “omit needless words.”

Had the writer of the press release followed both pieces of advice that first sentence could have read, “Fans are asked to bring a non-perishable food item which will be donated to the South Jersey Food Bank.”

Doesn’t that more clearly describe the cause marketing promotion?

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Using Cause Marketing To Bring Technology and Wood Back Together

Back when the Beaver and Jack Benny show were on television, the TV sets on which Americans watched those shows was wrapped in glorious wood. The stereo in the age of the Mad Men was a piece of wood furniture as organic as the asparagus at the Farmer’s Market in Portland. But nowadays, as Fast Company recently pointed out, electronics can be metal or plastic or some combination thereby, but wood is as old fashioned as, well, an Old Fashioned.

Now a Massachusetts audio company called Vers is using cause marketing to help make people comfortable again about the combination of wood and technology. Vers makes compact speakers, earphones, and iPhone cases with wood. Vers systems have a reputation for sounding better than plastic, and wood is perhaps the most sustainable material on the planet. Vers uses farmed eucalyptus and pine, plus common sustainable hardwoods for its veneers.

The cause marketing piece is this: for every tree that Vers uses, it plants 400 trees via its partner, the National Arbor Day Foundation. “Harvest a tree – plant a forest,” is how Vers puts it.

The company also evidences a strong environmental and conservationist mindset. Vers generates scant waste in the manufacturing process. Vers audio components require low power. The systems are meant to be repaired and, when the time comes, easily disassembled, since they’re held together with just screws.

Sorta like back during the Golden Age of Television when if the TV went on the fritz, you took the thing apart, pulled out a few vacuum tubes and took them down to Western Auto store and tested them to see which one was bad. And then replaced only that tube. Home electronics back then wasn’t just gear, it bears repeating, it was furniture.

With their business model and cause marketing approach Vers demonstrates that everything old is new again. And not a moment too soon.

Cause-Related Marketing does a world of good. Causerelatedmarketing.biz is dedicated to highlighting and dissecting the best and the worst cause-related marketing promotions and campaigns.
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