Subaru's People's Choice Approach to Cause Marketing

by Kate_NFG on ‎08-31-2011 5:00 AM, EDT - last edited on ‎01-11-2013 4:54 PM, EST by Network for Good Specialist

The Subaru ‘Share the Love’ event has a new dimension this year.  In years past, Subaru has determined which charities benefit from the cause marketing campaign.  This, year, the company is adding a social media crowdsourced voting element to the initiative.  Facebook fans of Subaru will be able to vote for a ‘People's Choice’ charity to receive funds, in addition to the charities selected by Subaru.



The online voting, which started August 25 and runs through Sept. 15, is being hosted on the Subaru of America Facebook page.  Voters can chose from among the following organizations: American Red Cross, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Teach For America.


The program will give $250 to charity for every new Subaru vehicle sold or leased from November 19 through January 3. To date, Subaru has donated almost $15 million toShare the Love’ charities and hopes to donate an additional $5 million this year.


Similar to the Tom’s of Maine ‘50 States for Good’ campaign, the Subaru voting contest is an example of a thoughtful campaign design engineered to respect cause partner resources and reinforce the successful campaign foundation from prior years. Instead of opening up the ‘People’s Choice’ charity option to any nomination from a Facebook fan, Subaru curated a list of organizations that align with its brand values and social impact goals.  This approach invites consumer participation, but mitigates potential risks to the brand and company reputation by limiting the cause universe to known and trusted charities.  More importantly, the design restricts nonprofit participation to 4 organizations, so several charities don’t expend valuable resources trying to activate their social networks and  win an online popularity contest, with only a slim chance of actually securing a grant. 


One area the campaign could improve is demonstrating social proof.  The Facebook page doesn’t provide a leaderboard or indication of how many people have voted.  Social proof in the form of voting thermometers, leaderboards and the like, make the campaign more tangible and incite people to take action (and give the charity partner a reason to reach out to its supporters).  For example, if I’m a passionate supporter of the Make-A-Wish foundation and I see that it’s in third place in the voting, I’m more likely to ask my friends to ‘like’ Subaru and vote.  However, the built-in prompt to share on Facebook and Twitter after voting is a nice viral element.  One way the campaign could amplify the impact is to invite Facebook fans to make a donation to the selected charity after voting - or at least provide information on how a fan can further support the organization beyond voting. 


Another area for improvement is transparency.   While the overall campaign format and rules are clear, Subaru doesn’t disclose how much of the $5 million fund will be distributed to the ‘People’s Choice’ charity or how many charities will receive funds this year.  Further, the Facebook page doesn’t reveal how the $15 million from prior years has been disbursed and to which charities.  Transparency is vital, not only to show where the money goes, but to ensure that all partipants - fans and charites alike - understand how to take part and what will happen if they do participate.


What are your impressions of the Subaru ‘Share the Love’ event?  Do you agree that this hybrid voting approach results in more meaningful cause marketing campaigns?

CSR Storytelling: Unite Ideas With Emotion

by Kate_NFG on ‎08-29-2011 6:10 AM, EDT - last edited on ‎01-11-2013 2:42 PM, EST by Network for Good Specialist

In 2003, the Harvard Business Review published an interview with screen writing coach Robert McKee.  That may have seemed like an odd choice for a strategic and tactical business publication at the time, but not so today.  The blogosphere is rife with discussion about the power of corporate storytelling – especially as it relates to CSR and cause marketing initiatives.  Here are a few examples from Cone, Realized Worth, Triple PunditThe Changebase, and Freeworld Media, to cite a few.    


In rereading HBR’s “Storytelling That Moves People”, I was struck be these particular quotes that serve as guiding principles for CSR and cause marketing communications.


People organize their reality through stories, so communicate in a way they can relate to.

“But despite the critical importance of persuasion, most executives struggle to communicate, let alone inspire.  Too often, they get lost in the accoutrements of company speak: PowerPoint slides, dry memos, and hyperbolic missives from the corporate communications department.”


Numbers and expert opinions are intimidating without a personal context.

“There are two ways to persuade people.  The first is by using conventional rhetoric […]And you build your case by giving statistics and facts and quotes from authorities. […] if you do succeed in persuading them, you’ve done so only on an intellectual basis. That’s not good enough, because people are not inspired to act by reason alone.”


Humanize statistics and results - people will internalize your social impact if it is tied to emotion.

“The other way to persuade people – and ultimately a much more powerful way – is by uniting an idea with an emotion.  The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story.”


People are interested in the process, not just the outcome.  The richness of story is in the details.

“Essentially, a story expresses how and why life changes. […] you want to display the struggle between expectation and reality in all its nastiness.”



Harvard Business Review: “Storytelling That Moves People” by Robert McKee and Bronwyn Fryer

Back-To-School Cause Marketing Has Many Flavors

by Kate_NFG on ‎08-26-2011 6:10 AM, EDT - last edited on ‎01-11-2013 5:02 PM, EST by Network for Good Specialist

The back-to-school season is upon us and retailers aim to inspire a captive audience of parents and students with school-themed cause marketing campaigns.  These campaigns take many shapes, but the best ones achieve an authentic cause connection, provide real value (for cause and retailer) and result in tangible impact.  Below are a few examples of current campaigns. 


Which ones do you think will truly make a difference?



Mobile + Social Media for Social Good

The “Do Good, Look Good” campaign from Macy’s and promotes volunteerism among millenials.  Here’s the call to action:

  • Visit your local Macy’s and scan the QR code you’ll find in the mstylelab department OR "like" the Macy's mstylelab Facebook page.
  • Macy’s will donate a dollar to (woot!).
  • Sign up below and take the quiz to find out what you’re passionate about and be entered into a $250 Macy's shopping spree sweepstakes!

Shop for a Cause

JCPenney’s “Pennies From Heaven” campaign asks consumers to round up their  JCPenney purchase to the nearest dollar, and donate that small change to afterschool programs.  The goal is to donate 100,000,000 pennies to several afterschool partners: Boys & Girls Clubs of America, The YMCA, 4-H and FIRST.



Cause Merchandise

Kohl's Cares with Clifford The Big Red Dog.  Customers can help their own communities when they purchase Kohl's exclusive Clifford storybooks now through the end of September.   In the storybooks, Clifford and his friends “lend a helping hand -- or paw -- in their community and demonstrate the importance of citizenship and determination as they work through everyday challenges”.   100 percent of the net profit benefits children's health and education initiatives nationwide.



School Supply Donations

On October 4th, OfficeMax’s “A Day Made Better” program will partner with Adopt-A-Classroom to reward 1,100 teachers with $1,000 each in school supplies.



Coupons for a Cause

Boxtops for Education lets consumers earn cash for their school by purchasing products from brands like Hefty, JuicyJuice and Kleenex.

Clothing Drive

Goodwill Industries International and Family Circle magazine are teaming up for the 3rd annual Back-to-School Clothing Drive at Goodwill stores and donation centers across the country.




Does 'Weird' Cause Marketing Work?

by Kate_NFG on ‎08-24-2011 6:10 AM, EDT - last edited on ‎01-11-2013 5:03 PM, EST by Network for Good Specialist

69% of Americans believe it is important to personally reduce water consumption.

25% of Americans actually took action by replacing toilets or shower heads with low-flow alternatives.

-          Shelton Group Green Living Pulse Survey


In response to the growing disconnect between the collective awareness of the need for water conservation and individual action to reduce water use, the Shelton Group has launched a PSA campaign, "Wasting Water Is Weird."  The PSA series is sponsored by Bosch, Kohler, Lowe's and Procter & Gamble Co.



What the campaign does right:

  • Doesn’t use scare tactics or alarming statistics.
  • Focuses the action on one person in an everyday, relatable situation.
  • Presents easy alternative choices consumers can make.
  • Incorporates video content and social sharing to encourage viral spread.


How the campaign could improve:

  • Clear, sound bite-worthy call to action.  “Wasting Water is Weird’ rolls off the tongue, but doesn’t create a strong affinity for  how the individual can make a difference.  Think: “Save Lids to Save Lives” or “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires
  • Meaningful social proof about the impact the campaign is driving (likes and pluses don’t count).  Levi’s Water<Less does a good job here.
  • Invitation to consumers to tell their stories of water conservation on Facebook or YouTube.  That’s where the real viral potential is – just look at Pampers Miracle Stories.
  • Incorporation of gamification or interactive elements to help with viral spread.  Maybe a smartphone app like The Greens: Light It Right game?
  • More tangible ways consumers can make a difference (The “Water – Use it Wisely” campaign does a great job here.)


Read more about the PSA campaign on Ad Age GoodWorks

CSR Now! from American Express

by Kate_NFG on ‎08-22-2011 6:10 AM, EDT - last edited on ‎01-11-2013 2:42 PM, EST by Network for Good Specialist

American Express has a new CSR blog.  CSR Now! is helmed by Tim McClimon,President of the American Express Foundation and Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility at American Express Company, and aims to showcase current happenings in corporate social responsibility from the perspective of a corporate practitioner.  The blog is a welcome addition to the ongoing CSR conversation and I look forward to future insights from the company that essentially pioneered cause marketing with the American Express Statue of Liberty Restoration campaign in 1983 and has contributed much to corporate citizenship overall.


Here are 5 CSR trends to watch from the inaugural post on CSR Now!


1.       Responsibility as a company value
2.       Growing integration between corporate philanthropy, volunteerism and sustainability
3.       Growing recognition that CSR can build skills in the workforce
4.       More and better communications about CSR
5.       Increasing call for more accountability, measurement and transparency


You can read the full post here.


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Companies for Good shares insights on cause marketing and corporate social responsibility topics to inform your charitable engagement with consumers and employees. Network for Good empowers corporate partners to unleash generosity and advance good causes. The blog celebrates that work and provides expertise and resources to help you do well and do good. Learn more

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