Social cause marketing—these are philanthropic buzzwords that appear to be sweeping companies and organizations in recent years. By the sound of it, it seems like something every organization should adopt. By the looks of it, it can do wonders for any business’ reputation.
But what is it exactly?
In short, cause marketing involves the marketing efforts of corporate entities, non-profit organizations, and other cause groups to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. We’ve seen great examples of cause marketing in recent years with Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, Product (Red) for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, or Yoplait’s Friends in the Fight for Susan G. Komen.
So, what makes social cause marketing impactful? How does a group properly identify and adopt a social cause? How is it effectively marketed? I’ll illustrate three examples from R&R Partners’ Salt Lake City office that may help answer these questions.
Identify a need:
Utah Department of Public Safety – Highway Safety Office: Utah DUI Staycation Trolley Tour
Over the past 10 years, more deaths have happened on Utah roads on the 4th of July holiday than any other holiday. As Utahns began planning their Independence Day celebrations, we identified a need for our Utah Highway Safety client and began strategizing ways to position the “don’t drink and drive” message to best combat the deadly holiday. To encourage Utah drivers to make plans for sober driving, representatives from the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Office and the Utah Highway Patrol partnered with the Salt Lake Trolley Tour, a narrated sightseeing tour through historic Salt Lake City. We invited Salt Lake-area news outlets to join local law enforcement aboard the Utah DUI Staycation Tour and share the ride of lifetime—experiencing a DUI without the related costs.
The trolley tour took guests to various sites around downtown with a handful of out-of-the-ordinary stops. These stops included up-close and personal views of standardized field sobriety testing, the finest photo opps of a Blood Alcohol Testing vehicle (BATmobile), and a final stop at the jail administration building.
Our goal is not to stop people from drinking, but rather urge safe driving in situations where people might be drinking. If Utahans chose to drink on Independence Day, we encouraged them to make a plan—designating a sober driver or utilizing a ride share service. Otherwise, they could experience a summer staycation they wouldn’t soon forget.
Select an impactful partner:
Slow the Flow, Save H2O + Garbett Homes: Flip Your Strip
R&R Partners has developed a strategy for cause marketing called the “Theory of Reasoned Action” which highlights four steps for effective social change:
- Raise awareness
- Change attitudes
- Change intentions
- Change behavior
A crucial piece of the Theory of Reasoned Action pie includes community mobilization—or the process in which individuals or organizations carry out messaging or activities to accomplish an initiative. To mobilize a community, it often requires strategic partnerships to communicate messages via innovative ways.
Recently, we partnered with Garbett Homes—a Utah homebuilder committed to sustainable and innovative building—with our client Slow the Flow, Save H2O (from the Utah Division of Water Resources). Our shared goal was to extend Garbett’s efforts to the exterior of the home by promoting a Flip Your Strip initiative for residential landscaping. This initiative encouraged the conversion of neighborhood park strips (the area of yard between the sidewalk and street) from sod to an attractive water-wise alternative saving up to 10,000 gallons of water per year, per household.
The Flip Your Strip initiative aims to build awareness in the community and state, but also highlight Garbett Homes as a leader and advocate for water-wise, sustainable exterior landscaping. The summer-long project culminated in a media event to educate press and the community on the intended initiative. For additional community outreach, local elementary Daybreak Academy was invited to participate in the event. Speakers educated students about the Flip Your Strip project, the importance of conserving water, and ways they could help make a difference for Utah’s future water needs. Each student walked away with a t-shirt and water-wise plants for a hands-on application of the initiative for the academy’s schoolyard.
Build engaging content + creative:
Utah Department of Public Safety – Highway Safety Office: St. Patrick’s Day Saints of Sobriety
Many people like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by raising a pint of their favorite beverage, but some press their luck by getting behind the wheel. To remind St. Patrick’s Day revelers to never drink and drive, representatives from the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Office and the Utah Highway Patrol visited Salt Lake-area news outlets to reveal a DUI-prevention message that encouraged bar and pub patrons to take a cab or ride with a sober lad or lassie.
Additionally, on the evening of St. Patrick’s Day 2016, law enforcement representatives partnered with Salt Lake City bars where local actors transformed into living statues of the “Saints of Sobriety”, including: St. Haylor of Cab, saint of wise travelers; St. Cristyl O’Clearhead, saint of responsible drinking; and St. Alweis the Appointed, saint of designated drivers. Those who made the pledge to get home safely received a coin from law enforcement representatives that, when deposited in the statue’s hat, activated an interactive performance by the living saint statue. To assist in additional awareness, each bar also placed a stained glass display at their location to communicate the importance of sober driving on Utah’s roads. The message was interactive, hands-on, and entertaining..
For the first time, Utah experienced zero alcohol related crashes or fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day. By identifying a need and a timely message, while channeling impactful creative, our message came to life with a fresh and innovative platform and likely played a role in preventing crashes and fatalities this year.
By identifying a need, selecting impactful community players, and building engaging content, any organization can adopt, and shape, an impactful cause marketing campaign. R&R Partners holds the tools and expertise to take key moments like each of the above examples and turn them into critical successes for any client.