Cause Marketing Campaigns to Watch This Summer

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Cause Marketing Campaigns to Watch This Summer

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Cause Marketing Campaigns to Watch This Summer #causemarketing

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Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 2:45pm


School is out, and summer vacation is officially here.  For many large brands and agencies, the cause marketing campaign season is starting to heat up as well.  For cause-marketing geeks like me, summertime and back-to-school campaigns couldn’t come soon enough.  It’s a time where brands try (and many fail) to show the world that they are not greedy corporations, but companies that value the quality of life of employees, customers, community stakeholders and the environment.  Many brands actively work hard and invest large sums of money in making things better in the world while others try to cash in on simply looking like they do.  Honesty and impact, above all, are the ultimate ingredients that all successful cause marketing campaigns contain.

So what are a few campaigns on my radar?  Glad you asked; here are a few I follow.  Note: I have not listed any campaigns that my company is presently working on or distributing through our digital cause-marketing ad network.

Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good and Meals per Hour campaigns

Toyota is one of the foremost brands that get how creating sustainable products and helping people and nonprofits in communities the company serves makes good business sense.  In Toyota’s 100 Cars for Goodcampaign, the company asked nonprofits in 2012 to submit videos about their organizations for a chance to win one of 100 Toyota cars that were given away daily.  People voted through a Facebook app and mini-site.  The company received a lot of great content and was able to message externally through awesome creatives placed in sites like VolunteerSpot, a mom-centric volunteering platform (and publishing partner in SocialGood.TV’s ad network) where socially conscious consumers elevated the campaign to maximum positive exposure.  I’m interested to see how Toyota follows a stellar 2012 launch of 100 Cars for Good this fall.

Toyota’s current Meals per Hour campaign is in full swing and it is equally as impressive.  This quote sums up the magic the company created in this campaign: “What is a car company going to tell me about running a kitchen or feeding people?”  Well, it turns out the organization systems and processes Toyota employs to efficiently manufacture cars works pretty well in food production and distribution too.  Who knew? I don’t know how the company can get any better at producing measurable impact at scale and score cause-marketing points with consumers, but this Meals per Hour campaign proves to me that the company is serious about being a good corporate citizen, identifying innovative ways the company can help society through its operations, products and capital investments, and leads its industry by effectively messaging such.'s Vide

Check out Toyota's 100 Cars for Good video on YouTube. 

General Mills’ Box Tops for Education campaign

Generating more than $475 million for schools since 1996, General Mills has proven that helping schools fundraise for educational material and supplies is good for business.  Providing a user/buyer experience around the program that include touch points from displays at local supermarket to the General Mills’Box Tops for Education website where consumers can track box tops saved, print coupons, get recipes for its products, earn bonus points and shop for its products online through select retailers (who also give bonus points for online purchases).  Parents go out of their way to purchse cereal and other products for their children if it means that a percentage will go back to make their kids’ learning environment better.  It’s a sentiment that the brand has perfected over decade and a half now as its community of PTAs, boosters and millions of parents across the country drive the brand’s sales and market share for 17 years straight.  Building a community around this program has returned dividends in sales and has helped schools in times of shrinking budgets and fiscal calamity.  As the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  Still, I would be ecstatic if the brand incentivized parents to buy its healthier products through special box-top rewards thereby aligning the campaign to promote healthy eating and combat the widespread problem of childhood obesity.

Target’s Give with Target campaign

Brands running crowdsourcing driven cause marketing campaigns that reward few non-profit or school participants should have learned a lot from Target last year in its Give with Target campaign.  The brand offered $2.5 million in grants and $2.5 million in gift cards to non-profits and schools through a Facebook app.  The genius Target captured was allowing participants to earn $25 for each 25 ‘likes’ each group acquired in Facebook.  Donations were capped at a maximum of $10,000 per participating school, which fairly distributed the money and left few feeling short-sided for all of the owned and earned media generated for Target during the campaign.  Although the program didn’t have a massive donation payout, Target was innovative and made sure the program was fair and had a broad reach.  I’m interested to see if Target expands this campaign provided the success it generated in 2012.  I give this campaign two altruistic thumbs up.

Cause marketing has adoption by brands has exploded for its ability to connect brands to consumers in meaningful ways and reap monetary and brand recognition rewards at the same time.  Not only are brands encouraged to be good corporate citizens and message their value to the world, but it is now becoming a necessity of doing business.  While some corporations don’t make genuine efforts and are often rewarded by negative press and consumer anger, most large companies are making notable inroads to fostering change on a global level.  I am humbled to work in a segment of the industry that has the potential to change how brands make the world better in a sustainable, truthful, and impactful way.

Stephen Vogelpohl is the founder and CEO of an Austin based startup, SocialGood.TV, that primarily operates the world's largest digital ad network for cause marketing campaigns. Stephen frequently writes about cause marketing, social innovation and entrepreneurship, and social impact.

Keywords: Media & Communications | Business & Trade | Ethical Consumerism | Finance & Socially Responsible Investment