If the cause marketing promotions during the October observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month provide any clue, the answer is…all of the above!
Yes, among the myriad pink-ribbon promotions I saw last month were NFL players wearing pink shoes and other gear, part of the league’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign benefitting the American Cancer Society; a “Corn for the Cause” label with the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s logo on a package of corn; and a Susan G. Komen for the Cure logo on a billboard for a San Diego-area casino that featured a gleaming motorcycle and the headline ‘Win this bike, Support a good cause.’
To be clear: these are three highly reputable organizations that, individually and collectively, are doing great work on the urgent issue of breast cancer. And I applaud them, and their corporate partners, for devising creative promotions to engage people in this important cause.
But whether you’re a cause, a company or a consumer, last month’s promotions, as well as the many more we’ll see during the months of "Movember" and December, are a good reminder to be careful with your cause marketing. Here are some of the pros and cons, and questions to consider, before embarking on this kind of journey:
Both causes and companies get brand benefit from the increased focus on breast cancer during October. Jump on the boat, the conventional wisdom goes, and you’ll get some rise.
Building a truly purpose-driven brand that engages your audiences as evangelists is a long-term journey. It takes more than a month-long sprint or even a walkathon. It takes a sustained commitment at all levels of your organization, from marketing and management, to making widgets and everything in between.
The business value of what I like to call “brand purpose” is reinforced by research from Jim Stengel, P&G’s former global marketing officer, which found that brands serving a higher purpose achieve better financial performance.
I recently joined i.d.e.a. as Vice President, Brand Purpose, to help our clients realize that dual promise of creating value while changing the world. Are you along for the ride? If so, here are a few tips to remember as you navigate toward that ideal destination of a higher purpose brand: