Pillar #4 of the 6 Pillars of Effective Cause Marketing - Be Relevant and Intentional

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Pillar #4 of the 6 Pillars of Effective Cause Marketing - Be Relevant and Intentional

The fourth post of a series of six discussing effective cause marketing principals
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At Incite, we believe the most effective cause marketing campaigns are crafted with careful consideration of a company’s consumers, employees and key partners. Here in a series of six blog posts, we demonstrate the importance of understanding the causes and issues that are relevant to these stakeholder groups and present six critical pillars for developing effective cause marketing campaigns.

Friday, April 13, 2012 - 10:00am

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Pillar #4 - Be Relevant and Intentional

Connect emotionally with your consumers. Consistently engage them to make sure your cause marketing efforts continue to reflect and address the causes and issues that matter in their lives. Be open to feedback and apply it to constantly improve your cause marketing efforts. Generation Y and Millennial consumers, in particular, like to be acknowledged and prefer to feel like they play a part in crafting the cause and social marketing efforts of the brands they purchase. Put this to positive use for your company and reap the benefits of free (and often valuable) advice from your consumers. Be intentional in your cause marketing partnerships. Make sure all sides of a partnership are committed to growing together before embarking on a cause marketing effort. Foundationally, your organizations should be in alignment, and your relationship and campaign should be driven by shared goals and results.

PILLAR 4 SHOWDOWN – General Mill’s “Box Tops for Education” campaign vs. Coca-Cola’s World Wildlife Fund Campaign

General Mill's "Box Tops for Education" - Cause Marketing Concept: The original ”Box Tops for Education” campaign launched in 1996 and asked consumers to clip Box Tops coupons from hundreds of participating products and send them to their school of choice. The school then sent those Box Tops back to General Mills and earned 10¢ for each Box Top redeemed.

We chose to profile this campaign due to the expansion of the program over the past fifteen years. Because General Mills has listened carefully to their consumers and examined what they like about the campaign, they have crafted new and exciting ways for their consumers to participate. They have also continually optimized where and how to reach their consumers – be it traditionally or through online portals and social media channels.

A timeline of their expansion demonstrates the evolution of this effort:

  • 1996: General Mills proudly launches Box Tops for Education in California on cereals like Cheerios, Total and Lucky Charms.
  • 1998: Now a nationwide fundraising program, more than 30,000 schools participate.
  • 2001: A new way to earn introduced: the Box Tops Marketplace, where you can shop online and redeem Box Tops.
  • 2002: Box Tops doubles in size to include Pillsbury, Old El Paso and Green Giant brands.
  • 2004: $100 million earned by over 82,000 schools across the nation.
  • 2006: Ziploc, Hefty and Kimberly-Clark products join the Box Tops program.
  • 2008: Nestle Juicy Juice joins Box Tops.
  • 2009: Barnes and Noble teams up with Box Tops to start the Reading Room in an effort to make it easy to earn cash for your school. Participants earn up to 6 eBoxTops with every qualified $10 purchase at Barnes & Noble locations.
  • 2010: Box Tops celebrates over $320 million earned by schools! Welch’s and Land O’Lakes products join the Box Tops program.

Source: http://www.boxtops4education.com/learnWhyJoin.aspx

THE SCORECARD: General Mills has done an exceptional job being relevant and intentional. As the timeline depicts, they have successfully listened to their consumers and empowered them with multiple ways to participate in the program. As a cause marketing campaign that is still growing and engaging their consumers after fifteen years, the Box Tops for Education program is worth emulating and learning from as a touchstone.

Coca-Cola’s World Wildlife Fund Campaign – Cause Marketing Concept Coca-Cola is donating $2 million to the World Wildlife Fund to support efforts to save polar bears struggling to survive due to global warming. To raise awareness of this issue, they introduced a white can with polar bears on it before the 2011 holiday season.

THE SCORECARD: The choice of supporting polar bears through the World Wildlife Fund is perfect for Coca-Cola. The polar bear has long been associated with Coca- Cola’s holiday marketing efforts. The problem? They were thinking of themselves, not their consumers when they made the decision to turn their cans from red to white this holiday season. It’s just shy of an American tradition to purchase holiday cans of Coca-Cola during the holidays, and consumers look forward to seeing the new holiday can design every year. Coca-Cola chose to take a risk that is most likely costing them every bit of the donation they’re making to the World Wildlife Fun because consumers demanded they change their white cans back to red.

Production of the white cans quickly stopped after the uproar it caused among consumers, and Coca-Cola announced that their intent was to always distribute the traditional holiday cans during Christmastime in addition to the white cans. Hopefully Coca-Cola will develop a way to utilize their iconic polar bears imaging on their holiday cans and still spread their “save the polar bears” message to happy consumers after understanding why the white can resulted in such widespread and immediate public backlash. For now, they have simply confused and alienated an already dedicated target audience.

The key takeaway from this conversation about relevancy and intent is to think of your consumer first. Again, your consumers ARE your brand and should always be considered first when brands embark on a cause or social marketing campaign.


Nick Cavarra
+1 (818) 238-6630
Incite - Social Impact Marketing
Keywords: 6 Pillars of Effective Cause Marketing | Events, Media & Communications | Cause Marketing | Coca-Cola | Events, Media & Communications | General Mills | Incite - Social Impact Marketing

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