Why Cause Marketing is a Good Idea

TOMS is kicking off it’s eighth annual ‘One Day Without Shoes’ campaign this month on the 21st to raise awareness for children’s health and education. This cause marketing campaign is just one example of thousands that are now launched each year.

Since the 70s Cause Marketing Campaigns have begun to trickle into mainstream marketing culture beginning with Carr and Associates International. This organization was formed by John T. Carr as a means to “give back” by engaging charitable causes and businesses to support each other. The organization was promoted by John T. Carr’s focus on enlisting businesses to give back referral fees on what they might normally spend for marketing; and having those funds redirected toward the charitable cause of the buyer’s choice.

Since then Cause Marketing has become increasingly popular within the marketing world and for good reason. In the 2000’s we saw explosive growth partly because of the progressive negative impact human beings are having on world systems and the need for organizations to act in a more socially and environmentally responsible way. This has elicited growing partnerships between for profit and nonprofit organizations. Irregardless of the obvious need for organizations to find opportunities to give back and appeal to socially conscious audiences, cause marketing is also a logical and ethical approach to marketing that should be naturally be taken.

TOM’S Core Messaging

This TOMS campaign in particular is such a great example of cause marketing as they have been active within this type of marketing approach for many years and as a result have a very refined and effective process for managing high level cause marketing campaigns.

Here they partner with one other for profit organization, Clear Channel contributing majorly on increasing exposure to the campaign as well as two nonprofit organizations, IOCC in Ethiopia and Magic Bus in India.

Most cause marketing campaigns are conducted between 2 organizations, a for profit company that will be responsible for the costs of the campaign and a socially or environmentally focused nonprofit organization. This relationship is one of mutual beneficence as the nonprofit gains by access to funding and increased awareness around their cause where the for profit company’s social approval ratings go up.

In TOM’S case both TOMS and Clear Channel are benefiting by being associated with such an exemplary cause. IOCC and Magic Bus benefit by increased awareness form the campaign itself and are able to better serve the communities they work with by contributing shoes. It is refreshing to see so many progressive companies making cause marketing a priority and dominant marketing approach.

Although the debate regarding the topic of whether or not for profit companies should participate in cause marketing because it is ethical as opposed to being profitable will continue to dominate conversations. That kind of chatter sort of misses the point, in that the real driving force behind the decision doesn’t really matter, although it’s probably a bit of both and understandably so. We as a society need to make sure to continue to recognize the value in cause marketing and implement it into core marketing process and initiatives at every level of every company so as not to waste any marketing dollars that don’t contribute to something positive.

After all if you have the choice to either do your work or do your work while positively transforming  the world, your choice is obvious.

Interested in setting up a cause marketing campaign of your own? We can match you with a partner and manage the entire campaign process.


Jaclyn Hawtin

Jaclyn Hawtin (M.S. Tech), a San Francisco based Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Tech Love is an award winning entrepreneur with extensive experience advising start-up ventures. Her unique methodological approach developed through years of academic research and experimentation on making 'right technology' decisions in the workplace has proven invaluable to Tech Love's client base. She also currently serves as a mentor to entrepreneurs at House of Genius and advises a number of international nonprofits and NGO's on best practices for applying technology in international development.

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