Ahh yes, it’s that special time of year again when we transition from political ads that divide, enrage, and make us cringe (oh no you didn’t, Maverick)—to sappy, happy, holiday messaging that makes us all warm and fuzzy inside, albeit still a little confused to learn every kiss begins with K-A… wait, what?! 🤔 Never mind that… It’s Giving Season! And what better time for your company to get behind a cause and show the world you care about more than just bettering your fourth-quarter sales. You care about bettering the world!! (Psssst! Don’t tell anyone this, but doing good is also known to better sales and improve brand loyalty—in fact, a recent study shows 89% of Americans would switch from a brand without a cause to one that supported a cause, if pricing and quality were comparable—just our little secret.)
So, now that you’re on board with cause marketing and doing good, where do we start?
STEP 1: Choose a cause that actually makes sense.
First things first, let’s find a cause you’re passionate about that relates to your product, service, or brand in an obvious, “a-ha” kind of way. If you’re a toothpaste brand, it makes perfect sense to launch a campaign that encourages water conservation. If you’re a beer brand associated with the Great Lakes and have a beer playfully named after an infamous river fire, of course, you should start a foundation and festival dedicated to improving regional freshwater resources. Or if you’re a beer brand associated with all things beach and ocean, why not create a bold campaign to end marine plastic pollution.
Aspire to keep your brand-cause connection that authentic. That simple. And that clear. The last thing you want to do is confuse your consumers. See Step 2.
STEP 2: Avoid choosing a cause that makes zero sense.
Call us crazy, but KFC’s super-size-your-soda-to-help-cure-diabetes promo or Walmart’s donate-food-to-our-$500-billion-company-so-we-can-feed-our-employees campaign might not win gold at this year’s Halo Cause Marketing Awards Show.
But even worse, illogical marketing like this could create a social tsunami that pummels your brand quicker than Kendall Jenner can end a riot with a can of Pepsi. Which brings us to our next point.
STEP 3: Be ready for mean tweets.
Let’s be honest. Twitter is an awful, nasty platform filled with a bunch of anonymous meanies, where no cause or brand is safe. Are you prepared for the haters? Do you believe in your cause so much that you’re willing to shrug off any potential social media backlash about your coffee cup #RaceTogether campaign? Because those harsh, snarky tweets are going to come… along with that grande latte. (You go, Gwen.)
STEP 4: Think beyond races and runs.
There’s nothing wrong with doing another Race For The__ (YOUR CAUSE HERE)___. Except that seemingly every other cause is doing it. So, what if you got a little bolder, and a little more creative? What if you raised awareness for your cause by planting a mile-long stretch of sunflowers along route I-90? Or encouraged people to nominate potholes in their town that needed to be paved by the world leader in pizza delivery? Brilliant.
STEP 5: You don’t need a huge budget (or any budget) to make an impact.
Before you give us the “But Domino’s has a gi-normous budget” argument, check out what a bunch of agency interns did for $1,000 in Chicago this past year. And if that’s not enough, we can always play the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge $0.00 marketing budget card, too. Truth is, developing a big, buzzworthy idea or donating your services or products could make a bigger difference than just shelling out the Benjamins. After all, why not donate some Cindys, Marks, and a dozen other creative directors, and help host the world’s largest creative portfolio review to help grow great, young, local creative talent in a town that needs help growing and retaining great, young, local creative talent. (Great idea, Steve.)
For more inspiration on how to rise above this giving season, we leave you with these closing words from a man who refused to give in or give up, especially when it comes to giving back.
(Well said, Winnie.)
Here’s to striving for noble causes, everybody!
-Your Giving Friends at Brokaw