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Cause Related Marketing: Who Is It For And Why Should Your Company Invest In It?

August 2 2021

Several years ago, an automobile insurance company came to our Miami PR Firm asking if we can market a bilingual literacy program for them. We were ecstatic! We had been trying to explain to several of our corporate clients the value of investing in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), also known as Cause Related Marketing. 

And here was an opportunity to show them how a multimillion-dollar company was investing in educating their clients and the communities they served. How they were doing it and why they were doing it.

First, some definitions and information courtesy of Certus Insights. In an age where transparency is vital to their bottom line, businesses are realizing that consumers are concerned with their impact on society. Consumers expect brands to be socially responsible:

  • 70% of consumers want to know how brands are addressing social and environmental issues.
  • 46% of consumers pay close attention to a brand’s actions.

One key ingredient businesses should have in their yearly marketing plans are cause related marketing or CSR programs. This crucial collaboration between a for-profit business and a nonprofit organization for a common benefit is what consumers are looking for in companies. It will serve both organizations well. 

Of course, the idea is that a brand’s association with and work for a nonprofit will boost their corporate social responsibility (CSR). The nonprofit, in exchange for their ethical contributions to the collaboration, creates more awareness for their organization. So, both parties win!

In the case of this automobile insurance company, a vast majority of their customers were Spanish speaking with little to no English language skills. They realized their customers were not reading to their children because they wanted them to learn and speak English in the new country. So, the company started publishing bilingual children’s books, written at first by their marketing staff, and then by guest authors. The books’ designs were also created by the in-house marketing staff initially. They had table displays and sign ups at PTA meetings for both teachers and parents to get the books for free. And they sponsored Teacher Appreciation events to also reach both audiences. And we created a national recognition day called “National Bilingual Literacy Month” that garnered important national and local press for the company and the issue.

National Bilingual Literacy Month

The bilingual literacy program not only gave a positive reputation to the company, but also enhanced reading in two languages, provided teachers with much-needed additional material and gave parents an opportunity to learn basic English themselves. The program proved to enhance the company’s bottom line, a great return on their investment that kept it going for years.

This is the kind of CSR campaign companies want. One in which both the non-profit and the for-profit companies win on so many levels. Further to that point, here are some guidelines for other companies and brands to follow when doing their own program:

  1. Choose Your Cause. It seems obvious, but so many companies get caught up on donating here and there with no cohesive plan or strategy. Instead, take time to Identify your Cause. A CSR campaign should reflect the values of your company and your customers. And it helps to have a common theme and goal that makes sense for your partnership.
  2. What Are you Going to Contribute? In the case of our automobile insurance company, they donated their Marketing Department’s talent and time to create and publish the bilingual children’s books. They spent money to have their staff attend Teacher Appreciation events and PTA meetings. They dedicated their PR firm’s fees to promote their efforts. So, it may be different for every company. But you need to decide on what your organization is prepared to contribute.
  3. Co-Promote the Program. Have both your company and the nonprofit market the program through social media, websites, press releases and community outreach. It benefits both organizations to tell their various audiences what is going on and why. This also involves your target markets in your effort and enables them to help if this is part of the program.

Here are some more examples of successful Cause Related Marketing or CSR Campaigns:

Red Nose Day & Walgreens

A collaboration between Red Nose Day and Walgreens raises money for children in poverty. The iconic red noses are available for purchase at Walgreens during the annual 6-week campaign, and customers are encouraged to take pictures and wear them to other Red Nose Day fundraising events. The campaign uses the power of social media marketing to generate awareness from celebrities and other influencers, and the proceeds are donated directly to the foundation.

PurposeFULL Cause Marketing Campaign

This campaign is a collaboration between Arby’s and Share Our Strength, a nonprofit that helps feed children in America. PurposeFULL is a point-of-sale campaign, which means customers are asked to donate when they buy a product from Arby’s. By donating $1, customers can provide food for 10 meals. The low donation amount allows customers to focus on the support. So far, Arby’s has raised over $15 million for the campaign.

Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives

Yoplait created the Save Lids to Save Lives campaign to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s fight against breast cancer. They made some of their yogurt lids pink and encouraged people to send them in to raise 10 cents each. Yoplait leveraged the national popularity of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and supported the initiative with paid and earned media. It even extended to other General Mills brands, including Cheerios, Nature Valley, and Betty Crocker. All in all, the campaign raised $26 million.

C.L. Conroy
Founder, President and CEO, The Conroy Martinez Group
An expert in public relations and marketing for more than 25 years, C.L. has designed and successfully implemented campaigns for international, national and regional clients in the consumer products, health care, corporate, banking, travel and tourism, entertainment, retail, aviation, real estate and education fields.

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