Cause Marketing Climbs to the Next Level

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If you strike a chord with the heart, the mind will follow. With brands, it’s no exception.

There are ample examples of cause marketing by brands for some years now. We have all seen ads, posts, promotions urging us to buy, like, share something and an equivalent value, fixed by the brand, will be donated in some social cause or charity. If we were already a loyalist of that brand, we felt good about it while buying the product or service. Even if they were not our brands of choice, a like or share did not cost us anything, so we felt good furthering a cause. You must be wondering, what novelty could I bring to this topic now?

You will know in a moment. While going through endless social media campaigns this year I came across four excellent ones that set me thinking. These were campaigns that did not sell their product or service, they were just trying to make us value life and its joys. They were trying to alleviate the social vices that plague us every day. Before I make my point, let me share what these campaigns were:

Dove ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ Campaign

First launched in 2006, these videos show an artist sketching a series of women, based on their own descriptions of themselves versus an onlooker describing their appearance to the expert, with the latter’s descriptions producing a far better, rather beautiful, picture than each woman’s own description. Thus revealing the harshness with which we look at ourselves, obscuring the real beauty. This video has recorded 4.24 million shares on social media this year and has become the most viewed ad ever.

Pantene #whipit Campaign

This campaign launched in the Philippines only recently has been trying to dispel social stereotyping of women at the workplace. It compared similar actions of a man and woman at work and how the same action induced totally opposite perceptions in society, with women receiving the flak every time. The ad ends with the message ‘Don’t let labels hold you back. Be strong and shine’. Not only has it sparked engagement in social media, it received an endorsement by an iconic women in the corporate world – Sheryl Sandburg, elevating its value up many notches.

Visa #smallenfreuden Campaign

The social media centric campaign started in Canada with an anonymous video and a twitter account with a coined term #smallenfreuden, which translates to “the joy of small”. The video depicts a series of small events in life that produce joy and glorified the act, urging people to do it more and more every day and in the process turning the coined term into a verb and asking viewers at the end – “Do you #smallenfreuden?”. The unbranded teasers on Youtube and conversations on twitter followed for some time till Visa revealed itself to be force behind it. The video received 400,000 views in the very first week of its launch. Visa claimed its share of payments increased 30% during the campaign period.

The ‘Batkid’ Campaign

The Make-a-wish Foundation wanted a 5 years old kid, Miles Scott, a leukemia patient’s wish come true. It planned a real life enactment of the movie with the child as the protagonist, rescuing a damsel in distress and fighting the bad guys. The city of San Francisco serving as Gotham City, the fictitious town the Batman guards in the movie. What is a regular activity for the foundation, turned into one of the most notable heartwarming events that garnered unprecedented support both from masses as well as government, with President Obama himself tweeting about it. The entire credit goes to social media that supported the event right from its onset. A whopping 600,000 tweets and 1.7 million impressions were recorded within the short span of 12 days and nearly 20,000 people turned out on the streets to witness the event.

The striking feature of all these campaigns was – none of them were selling their product in the campaign. They were trying to either participate in contributing to the betterment of the society or helping in making us appreciate life. They were not asking us to trade anything at all with them, even for goodwill, they were just spreading the joy. By not following the trend, they were leading the change. This thought is further vindicated by the Nobel Prize winning Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who according to an article published by ‘The Economist’ argues, advertising prizes emotion over information and pays more attention to the brands “purpose” than its products.

These were not causes of epic proportions, like Arab Spring or Awareness against Rape, yet, they made an indelible mark on the consumer’s mind through the new world of social media. The key take away from this analysis thus proceeds, that is, there is immense scope of brands of all varieties to champion such a cause, in the very subtle away the above have shown us. There is no dearth of issues in society – from bullying to hatred, encouraging compassion to eradicating racial bias and the list can go on. So, why not spread some happiness and joy, while going about your business?  Especially when the returns are so rich and enduring.

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About Gargi Basu

Gargi Basu is a seasoned corporate communications professional and a social media marketing enthusiast. Gargi is a Web Journalist with Beta21 - spotting, analyzing, and reporting social media marketing trends and happenings.
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