Cause marketing or cause-related marketing is a public relations strategy that forges a strategic alliance between a for-profit company and a non-profit organization (or “cause”). A cause partnership is symbiotic: The non-profit organization benefits from heightened awareness, increased donations, and improved recognition and volunteerism, while the corporate partner improves customer loyalty, employee morale and retention and increases sales without sending too transparent a commercial message. A cause marketing program can also preempt or quell a crisis. With this strategy, a company incorporates a philanthropic agenda as part of its marketing strategy, garnering media attention and visibility through cause-related events, internal communications, merchandising, advertising, package design, online marketing, etc. While many U.S. citizens view cause marketing as a corporate responsibility, consumers reward brands and companies that embrace “giving back.”
Cause Marketing’s History and Examples:
“In today’s corporate culture, companies are not just encouraged but also expected to give back, to embrace a philosophy of corporate social responsibility,” cited cause marketing pioneer John Rosica. In 2000, the management of Parade Magazine, and several national charities that Rosica’s cause-marketing firm has aided through the years (including Literacy Volunteers of America, Habitat for Humanity, Boys & Girls Clubs, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Birthing Project U.S.A.) recognized Rosica for his work in this field and proclaimed him to be the “father of cause marketing.” While Rosica has furthered awareness of the practice of cause-related marketing, corporate America has a long way to go as their donations, according to a July 10, 2006 Newsweek article, still only represent about five percent of all charitable giving. Seventy-seven percent of giving comes from individuals’ donations. The study was conducted by The Boston Foundation and Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy.
In its cause marketing practice, Rosica has partnered countless corporations with non-profit entities. Some of these successful campaigns include Famous Amos Cookies with Literacy Volunteers of America, Mark Smith with the Seeing Eye Foundation, Revlon with Birthing Project U.S.A., Independent Jewelers with Cure Autism Now, as Rollerblade with a childhood obesity effort.