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


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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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