Cause Marketing: Make it Hurt

All of our clients are thinking and talking about cause marketing. Some of them are taking action. We saw a bit of research recently confirming that Gen Y is more willing to support a brand who associates with a cause. And especially since the Haiti earthquake, corporate helpfulness is on everyone's mind... ...So, I'm at the Larder at Tavern last weekend ordering lunch to go. I notice next to the register a sign that says something to the effect of Tavern supports the people of Haiti. Their gesture: buy a sandwich, bag of chips, cookie, and an apple for $16, and $3 of that goes to Haiti.

You'll have to forgive my math, but if calculations are correct, this means they want 13 bucks for a bag lunch. This is not cause marketing, this is bullshit. In fact, look at their website and the same combo is $15, so they're throwing on an extra dollar and only losing two on the deal.

Forget about the prices of the food. Tavern is expensive but we go there anyway because the food is very good. Or not. That's not the point here, and this is not an anti-Tavern post. The point is that they made two major mistakes that can teach us a valuable lesson.

First, we want you to give until it hurts. How about the whole $16 goes to the earthquake victims? At the very least, tell us how much the food costs and then give the rest to the cause. Don't want to be that transparent about your profit margins, fine, then give the whole thing. The point is that we feel bad for the people who are in pain, and we want to support brands who will share some of that pain. Put up or shut up.

Second, you have to be more specific about where the money is going. Don't tell us it's going to Haiti. Name the organization, or the particular program. Partly because we may not believe you without specifics, and partly because we want to know that you've invested time and energy into caring, not just our money.

What do you think? Have you done any cause marketing? And how well has it worked? Post a comment.