Branding the Cause Marketing Program

There are three potential options for branding a cause marketing program:

Self-branded: Create Own Cause Program: The firm takes ownership of a cause and develops an entirely new organization to deliver benefits associated with the cause. The newly created self-branded cause could be branded with the parent brand or an individual product brand. The Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade are classic examples of self branded cause entities.

Co-branded: Link to Existing Cause Program: The firm partners with an existing cause. Typically, the identification of the brand affiliation with the cause is only in the form of its designation as a sponsor or supporter – the actual involvement is not branded as a program in anyway. Currently, co-branding relationships with causes are the most popular type of activity. An example is Sealy’s sponsorship of NASCAR’s victory Junction Gang Camp, which involves the donation of beds to an auto racing themed camp for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Jointly Branded: Link to Existing Cause Program: In this hybrid approach, firms partner with an existing cause but explicitly brand the program that links to the cause. An example of this is The Rocky Mountain Challenge, an organized three-day benefit bike ride, which is sponsored by the bike retailer Colorado Cyclist to provide funds for the Tyler Hamilton Foundation for MS, a charity established by the Tour de France cyclist.

Co-branding with an existing cause is a means for firms to complement their existing brand image with specific associations that are “borrowed” or “transferred” from a cause. Self-branding can be useful when a firm is trying to augment existing consumer associations via emotional and imagery appeals. Joint branding may permit the best of both worlds by establishing a strong connection with an existing cause but maintaining a distinct identity at the same time.

Social Marketing:

Some marketing is conducted to directly address a social problem or causes. Cause related marketing is done by a company to support a cause. Social marketing is done by a nonprofit or government organization to further a cause, such as “say no to drugs” or “exercise more and eat better.” The need for social marketing is evident: Consider the following recent facts and figures from 2002.

1. An estimated 1 million teens became pregnant.
2. 5-10 million adolescent girls and women struggled with eating disorders.
3. More than 16,000 people were killed in alcohol related crashes.
4. More than 3,000 children and teens died from gunshot wounds.
5. More than 5,000 people on waiting lists for organ transplants died.

Social marketing is a global phenomenon that goes back for years. In the 1950s, India started family planning campaigns. In the 1970s Sweden started social marketing campaigns to turn the country into a nation of nonsmokers and nondrinkers. In the 1970s, the Australian government ran “Wear Your Seat Belt Campaigns.” In the late 1970s, the Canadian government launched campaigns to “Say No to Drugs,” “Stop Smoking,” and “Exercise for health.” In the 1980s, the World Bank, World Health Organization, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started to use the term and promote interest in social marketing. Notable global social marketing successes include these:

1. Oral re-hydration therapy in Honduras significantly decreased deaths from diarrhea is small children under the age of 5.
2. Social marketers created booths in marketplaces where Ugandan midwives sold contraceptives at affordable prices.
3. Population Communication Services created and promoted two extremely popular songs in Latin America, “Stop” and “When We are Together,” to help young women “say no” .
4. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute successfully raised awareness about cholesterol and high blood pressure, which helped to significantly reduce deaths.

A number of different types of organizations conduct social marketing in the United States. Government agencies include the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, Departments of health, Social and Human Services, Department of transportation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Literally hundreds of nonprofit organizations are involved with social marketing including the American Red Cross, the World Wildlife Fund, and the American Cancer Society.