Promotional Products – Cause Marketing
Posted by Gallant at May 8th, 2012
Â Promotional Products
In 2004, at a gala event held in Austin, Texas, the Lance Armstrong Foundation quietly distributed 1,000 silicone wristbands as a giveaway item for attendees. Little did the foundation know that those yellow wristbandsâ€”imprinted with only one word, â€œLIVESTRONGâ€â€”would be the catalyst for one of the most successful cause-marketing campaigns in history. And at its center was a promotional product.
Designed in partnership with the foundationâ€™s corporate sponsor, Nike, the iconic yellow LIVESTRONG wristband became the catalyst for a groundswell of support that began in Austin and eventually swept the nation. The wristband became so popular that it ultimately raised more than $100 million and created priceless awareness for the foundationâ€™s cause.
â€œAfter those initial 1,000 wristbands were distributed in Austin, they went on sale online (at www.livestrong.org) as well as at Nike retail outlets,â€ says Rachel Armbruster, the former director of development for the Lance Armstrong Foundation who managed the Nike relationship that created the LIVESTRONG bracelet campaign. â€œAs of 2011, 84 million LIVESTRONG silicone bracelets have been sold.â€
Armbruster, who recently authored a new book,Â Banding Together for a Cause: Proven Strategies for Revenue and Awareness GenerationÂ (Wiley, 2011), believes cause-marketing campaigns offer an important opportunity to promotional products distributors.
â€œA giveaway or premium can really have a long-lasting impact,â€ Armbruster says. â€œIf you get it right, the results can be overwhelming. So many cause-marketing campaigns have some type of premium associated with them as a tangible way to demonstrate peopleâ€™s support. So they [promotional products] are really important, and theyâ€™re going to continue to be important.â€
But before we discuss the opportunity cause marketing presents, letâ€™s define what it isâ€”and isnâ€™t.
Popularity And Prominence
Wikipedia defines cause marketing as â€œa type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a nonprofit organization for mutual benefit.â€
The Cause Marketing Forum, Inc. (www.causemarketingforum.com) defines cause marketing as â€œa wide variety of commercial activity that aligns a company or brand with a cause to generate business and societal benefits.â€
Additionally, according to Cause Marketing Forum, cause marketing is not:
- Social marketing, the use by nonprofit and public organizations of marketing techniques to impact societal behavior (e.g., stop smoking, donâ€™t pollute, donâ€™t use drugs, donâ€™t drive drunk).
- Corporate philanthropy, the giving (without expectation of direct corporate gain) of charitable financial and in-kind grants by companies or their corporate foundations.
The term â€œcause-related marketingâ€ is attributed to American Express and its 1983 Statue of Liberty Restoration project. With every American Express card transaction, a penny was donated to the effort, and for each new card issued, a dollar was given. During a four-month period, $1.75 million was raised, new users grew by 17 percent and transaction activity jumped 28 percent. Since then, cause marketing has gained in popularity and prominence.
â€œSince the LIVESTRONG wristband campaign and the Susan G. Komen pink ribbon campaign, cause marketing has become an integral part of most companiesâ€™ marketing efforts,â€ Armbruster says. â€œTheyâ€™re looking at ways to incorporate cause marketing into their normal marketing activities.â€
Google â€œcause marketingâ€ today, and youâ€™ll receive more than 18 million results, and on the first pageâ€”third from the topâ€”youâ€™ll see Paul Jonesâ€™ cause-marketing blog (http://causerelatedmarketing.blogspot.com). In addition to writing countless articles on cause marketing for his blog, Jones is a cause-marketing consultant and coach, and the owner of Sandy, Utah-based Alden Keene & Associates, Inc.
â€œI define cause marketing as a relationship that bridges commerce and cause in a way that benefits both parties,â€ Jones says. â€œCause marketing is more promotional than corporate philanthropy. And thereâ€™s more of a sense of a partnership and mutual benefit. Corporate philanthropy tends to be run out of a companyâ€™s foundation while cause marketing is usually run out of a companyâ€™s marketing department.
â€œBy tying cause marketing to the marketing function, it ends up being more of a business partnership among equals than a charity with their hat in their hands,â€ Jones says. â€œPlus, there are goals and objectives in a cause-marketing promotion that are mostly absent in corporate philanthropy.â€
There are a few more differences, Jones notes. â€œThe funds generated in cause-marketing efforts frequently come from consumers directly,â€ he says. â€œBecause of the democratic way the funds are generated, they represent unrestricted money for the cause, which is very valuable to causes.
â€œA well-conceived and well-executed cause-marketing promotional products campaign can generate millions of dollars in a year.â€
Why have cause-marketing campaigns become so popular? Armbruster believes consumers expect more now from companies they support. â€œThey want to feel good about the money theyâ€™re spending,â€ she adds. â€œI think any type of a company can tie itself to a cause and make a clear message for how buying their product over a competitorâ€™s is doing good in the world.â€
Others say cause marketing is popular because it works. â€œI think cause marketing is gaining in popularity because more people are realizing itâ€™s a smart, cheap and effective way to market,â€ says Shel Horowitz, co-author ofÂ Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your PlanetÂ (Wiley, 2010). â€œYou feel like youâ€™re doing something good with your money.â€
Jones believes consumer sentiment has convinced companies that itâ€™s no longer optional to be involved in the important causes of the day. â€œSince the balance of power has shifted from companies to consumers over the last decade or so, companies have little choice except to meet their customersâ€™ expectations and engage in cause marketing,â€ he says. â€œStudies show that even with all the cause marketing we see today, the public expects more.â€
The LIVESTRONG wristband campaign is just one example of how promotional products can play a starring role in cause-marketing campaigns. A more recent instance of this dynamic is the Starbucks â€œCreate Jobs for USAâ€ campaign, launched in October 2011. Once again, a wristband plays an integral role.
â€œCreate Jobs for USA will accept donations online at www.CreateJobsforUSA.org and at nearly 6,800 companyâ€operated Starbucks stores in the United States,â€ reads a Starbucks press release. â€œDonors who contribute $5 or more will receive a red, white and blue wristband with the message, â€˜Indivisible.â€™â€
To launch Create Jobs for USA, Starbucks partnered with Philadelphia-based Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), aÂ national network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that invest in opportunities that benefit low-income, low-wealth and other disadvantaged communities across America.
Mark Pinsky, president and CEO of Opportunity Finance Network, explains why the campaign was created.
â€œIn late summer 2011,Â Howard Schultz, Starbucksâ€™ CEO, grew increasingly concerned about the unemployment crisis in the U.S.,â€ Pinsky says. â€œHe called on corporations to use some of their cash stockpiles to start hiring, and he decided to use Starbucksâ€™ scale to mobilize donations to support job creation and retention.
â€œStarbucks reached out to Opportunity Finance Network, and we agreed that Starbucks would raise donations at $5 per person through its stores and online,â€ Pinsky says. â€œOFN would distribute the money raisedâ€”more than $7 million so farâ€”to CDFIs to support lending for job creation and retention.â€
Through February 2012, 65 community development financial institutions are actively lending using Create Jobs for USA donations, Pinsky says. â€œThey are working in more than 30 states and are engaged in more than $50 million of lending that is producing, in turn, a net jobs benefit of more than 2,300 jobs,â€ he says.
Why did Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network decide to use a promotional product for the Create Jobs for USA campaign?
â€œThe Create Jobs â€˜Indivisibleâ€™ wristband is a tangible way for donors to show that they are proud to be part of the solution to the jobs crisis,â€ Pinsky says. â€œFor donations of $5 or more to Create Jobs for USA, donors receive an American-made â€˜Indivisibleâ€™ wristband. It shows that Americans are banding together to help solve the jobs crisisâ€”that we are indivisible.â€
Clearly, promotional products can and do play an important role in cause-marketing campaigns. Instead of existing as giveaways, promotional products assume a much more central role, acting as campaign catalysts and ensuring success.
Through promotional products, causes discover a way to raise both money and awareness. Rather than afterthought or adjunct, promotional products move from supplemental toÂ sine qua nonâ€”they become an indispensable element to a campaign.
In fact, Jones believes the relationship between cause marketing and promotional products has grown significantly in the last decade. â€œIâ€™d bet the number of promotional products with a cause tie-in has grown every year for at least 10 years,â€ Jones says. â€œCauses that hold events want and need promotional products. Companies that sponsor causes want promotional products as an important and tangible element of the cause-marketing promotion.â€ Â
Cause marketing and promotional products are such a natural combination that several industry companies have already implemented such campaigns.
â€œWe created a gift tower, and every treat had to be red, white or blue,â€ Feder explains. â€œThen we created a sentiment that recognized those who were lost or working on recovery. We worked with the American Red Cross in New York and identified a fire station in lower Manhattan. Ten percent of the proceeds went to that fire station. Every client we presented this to chose to purchase this item.â€
Through Gifts That Give, Feder has raised donations for the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Dress for Success and Minnesota Emergency Food Shelf among others.
In 2010, Feder decided to make the program sustainable. â€œI realized we needed to figure out a solution that was more proactive rather than reactive,â€ Feder says. â€œSo I started to create partnerships with nonprofits. The first campaign benefited Second Harvest Heartland, a regional food bank. We give back 10 percent to the nonprofit. At the same time, they have the product on their website and they are marketing the product themselves, so itâ€™s a collaborative effort.â€
Matthew Olivolo, director of public relations for Anaheim,Â California-based supplier firm Mobile Edge (UPIC: Mobile), says his company is a cause-marketing partner with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which fights cystic fibrosis.
â€œMobile Edge created a Komen line of laptop cases called the Caring Case Collectionâ„¢,â€ Olivolo says. â€œTo date, Mobile Edge has donated nearly $350,000 and counting. We actively promote both lines via e-mail marketing, online sales and special offers to resellers to help raise awareness for the cause.â€
Olivolo says the Komen campaign has become a popular program. â€œThe Komen laptop cases have done quite well,â€ he says. â€œThey are among our top-10 sellers.â€
Kyle Johnson, account manager for Clearwater, Florida-based supplier firm Norwood Promotional Products (UPIC: NORWOOD), says that in the past couple of years Norwoodâ€™s publishing division has seen its largest growth in the custom calendar division, more specifically, custom calendars for cause marketing.
â€œWe are seeing custom calendars used everywhere from large worldwide charities to the small-town school sports teams that need to raise extra money for equipment,â€ Johnson says. â€œWeâ€™re seeing a lot of big growth lately, even in the middle to the lower-end nonprofits.â€
Johnson believes promotional products are a natural fit for cause-marketing campaigns. â€œTangible, hard-good, promotional products do well in the market because you have something substantial to take home with you that reminds you of that cause youâ€™re supporting,â€ he says. â€œNot only do promotional products get the word out but they also increase those donations going forward.â€
Options And Opportunities
So, what is the market opportunity for cause marketing? â€œCause marketing has grown throughout and in spite of the recession,â€ Jones says. â€œThe most recent numbers are indicative of that growth. IEG, which has tracked the amount that sponsors spend on promoting their cause- marketing sponsorships for more than two decades, projects that it will top $1.73 billion in 2012. In 2011, the total spent on cause marketing was $1.68 billion.â€
What makes cause marketing such an appealing proposition is that it offers benefits to both the corporate sponsors and the nonprofits involved in campaigns. Jones says sponsors benefit from cause marketing because it can directly enhance sponsor sales and brand, heighten customer loyalty, boost a companyâ€™s public image and help distinguish it from the competition, help build employee morale and loyalty, and improve employee productivity, skills and teamwork.
â€œFor causes, the practice offers several benefits as well, including unrestricted dollars, branding paid for by someone else and positive association with better-known brands,â€ Jones adds.
Armbruster has specific suggestions for promotional products distributors who may want to pitch their idea for a cause-marketing campaign to either a for-profit company or nonprofit organization.
â€œSometimes the nonprofit and the for-profit will be trying to think about how they can physicallyâ€”with an itemâ€”represent their partnership and the meaning behind it,â€ Armbruster says. â€œIf you can position yourself to have a seat at that table sooner rather than later then you can understand the core of what they are trying to accomplish and what the best premium is to do that.â€
Armbruster says if you decide to pitch a nonprofit, ask for the organizationâ€™s fundraising director. And, if you want to approach a for-profit company, establish inroads with the companyâ€™s community relations director or cause-marketing director.
â€œSometimes the corporate partner will actually pay the nonprofit for the campaign, and the nonprofit is the one making the actual spend,â€ Armbruster says. â€œSo thereâ€™s money to be had both ways, depending on the way the two partners have set the agreement up.â€
Cause-marketing campaigns donâ€™t have to be conducted at a national level; they are just as effective when implemented locally. â€œCause marketing campaigns can be done on a very micro-level,â€ Armbruster says. â€œI think schools are probably the best at doing micro-campaigns. Or they could be done on a regional or statewide level. Thatâ€™s the nice thing about these campaigns; they can be as small or as large as you want them to be.â€
Feder suggests that distributors look at their three to five biggest clients and decide how they can take the lead in developing a campaign and then pitching it. â€œAs distributors, we should keep our eyes and ears open,â€ she says. â€œWe should be thinking and watching and then figuring out how to have the right answer at the right moment.â€
Johnson believes now is the time to act. â€œNot only do promotional products get the word out but they also increase donations going forward,â€ he says. â€œCause marketing offers a great opportunity for distributors to increase their sales as well as help out the community.â€
Brittany Glenn writes about current issues, trends and the economy for consumer and business-to-business magazines. She is a former associate editor ofÂ PPBÂ magazine.
>>Itâ€™s Time For Cause Marketing
93%Â Percent of consumers who want to know what companies are doing to make the world a better place.Â 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Study
31%Â Percent of millennials who prefer active engagement in cause campaigns, such as volunteering their time (versus 26 percent for non-millennials), cause-support purchasing (37 percent versus 30 percent), encouraging others to support a cause (30 percent versus 22 percent), and participating in fundraising events (27 percent versus 16 percent). Thirty-seven percent of millennials report being drawn to products co-branding with cause campaigns where their purchase is a form of support, such as Tomâ€™s Shoes One for One campaign. American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation, a report from BarkleyÂ
86% Percent of consumers around the world who believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on societal interests as on business interests.Â 2010 Edelman goodpurpose
2/3 Number of brands that now engage in cause marketing (up from slightly more than half in 2009).Â 2010 PRWeek/Barkley PR Cause Survey
97% Percent of marketing executives who believe cause marketing is a valid business strategy.Â 2010 PRWeek/Barkley PR Cause Survey
Source: Cause Marketing Forum, Inc. (www.causemarketingforum.com)
>>Hanes Helps Education
One way for promotional products distributors to get involved in cause marketing is through a program called Hanes4Education, initiated in March 2011 by Winston Salem,Â North Carolina-based supplier firm Hanes/Champion/Outer Banks (UPIC: hanesob).
â€œHanes entered an exclusive partnership with Box Tops for EducationÂ®Â so that schools can earn valuable Box Tops when they order HanesÂ®Â products for their decorated apparel needs,â€ explains Matthew Waterman, director of marketing for Hanes. â€œThrough Hanes4Education, schools can earn Box Tops for every Hanes t-shirt, polo shirt and sweatshirt they order through a distributor. And those Box Tops pay off in cash for the schools.â€
Box Tops for Education is a nationwide fundraising program for K-8 schools that encourages students to collect Box Tops off a variety of products from breakfast cereals to office supplies, Â Waterman says. â€œBox Tops coordinators at each of the 69,000 participating schools send in the Box Tops and receive cash for their schools,â€ he adds. â€œThe Box Tops for Education program has helped schools earn more than $500 million.â€
When customers order t-shirts or other Hanes products, they receive the equivalent of one Box Top for each item purchased. â€œAll they need from you, their decorated apparel supplier, is a receipt that indicates that they have purchased Hanes and the total number of Hanes products purchased,â€ Waterman adds.
â€œHanes4Education [www.Hanes4Education.com] is a great way for decorators to be heroes in their communities and help schools earn cash for things like books, computers and playground equipment,â€ Waterman says. â€œItâ€™s a win-win for decorators and their local schools. Itâ€™s a great way for them to grow their business. It gives them a unique opportunity to offer a tremendous added value to schoolsâ€”and it is simple and easy.â€
Promotional Products by Gallant