The campaigns listed here are among the promotions I admire most — because the cause marketing itself is the consumer benefit.

Rather than spending media budget on traditional advertising, these companies have converted promotional spending into product feature enhancements.  Examples:

  • Boost Mobile stores became more than a place for low-income minorities to get prepaid phones when the stores were used as election-day polling places in under-served communities, in which access to voting is otherwise unequal and limited by hours-long lines.  Meanwhile, Boost Mobile attracted to its stores, and earned the gratitude of, the same people who are the target market of its no-contract, no credit check, wireless services.
  • Pantene became more than hair care products when its dad do (aka hairdo) videos and kit showed fathers how to use Pantene to spend quality time with their daughters, with the premise that father-daughter quality time increases the daughter’s self-confidence and self-reliance.

Note the cause beneficiary: the consumer.  That’s unlike most other cause marketing promotions, where the primary beneficiary is someone else. For instance, a typical cause marketing offer is constructed as: “If you buy product x, we’ll donate $5 to children in need, or to save the whales, or to victims of natural disasters.” In other words, your purchase triggers support for a cause other than you.  

But, when cause marketing itself is the benefit, the customer (or prospective customer) is the direct beneficiary.

Becel 'Love Letters'

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Becel sought to reduce heart disease (and promote Becel margarine) via ‘love letters’ from children to their moms. Becel tells mothers: You take great care of your kids — take care of yourself too.

Pantene 'Sorry, Not Sorry'

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“Don’t be sorry, shine strong.” Pantene uses female-empowerment advocacy to bolster its multi-faceted ‘strong is beautiful’ brand personality.

Pantene "Dad-Do"

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In this 2016 Super Bowl commercial, Pantene introduces “dad-dos” (like hair-dos) to show that dads can — and should — spend quality time with daughters.

Pantene 'Labels Against Women'

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In this Pantene digital ad, men and women exhibit the same behaviors but are labeled differently, exposing a gender bias double-standard.

Uncle Ben's Beginners: Cooking Contest

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The promo ad for The Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest is part of Uncle Ben’s CSR program to associate its rice with healthier dinner choices and more family time.