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.

American Greetings #ThankList

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This Product-Cause Fit case study shows how American Greetings (the world’s largest greeting card producer) launched its #ThankList campaign to promote expressing gratitude.

Aqua Carpatica 'Purity Test'

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Aqua Carpatica created a water purity test so that Romanians could self-test water quality for nitrates. Results publicly disclosed water quality problems.

Becel 'Love Letters'

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Becel sought to reduce heart disease (and promote Becel margarine) via an emotional message that mothers wouldn’t tune out. Becel appealed to moms with ‘love letters’ from their own children.

Boost Mobile 'Boost Your Voice'

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Boost Mobile turned its stores into polling places to make voting more accessible in otherwise under-served (low income and minority) communities.

Burger King 'Proud Whopper'

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The Proud Whopper was sold at a single San Francisco Burger King restaurant, to coincide with the city’s Gay Pride Parade. The Proud Whopper generated: over one billion media impressions (worth $21 million of earned media), 7 million video views, 450,000 blog mentions, and became the number one trending topic on Facebook and Twitter.

Castrol 'Vuvuliser'

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Castrol Magnatec created Vuvuliser: the first vuvuzela horn that’s also a breathalyzer, to reduce road fatalities on the days of big soccer games.

China Telecom 'Healthy WiFi'

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China Telecom offered ‘Healthy WiFi’ to help its customers avoid cervical spondylosis, associated with poor posture from cell phone use.

CVS Health 'The Last Pack'

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CVS Health was the first national pharmacy chain to stop selling cigarettes, replacing them with ‘The Last Pack’: a step-by-step guide to quit smoking.

Emirates NBD 'Fitness Account'

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The Emirates NBD Fitness Account rewarded customers with higher interest rates in return for increased physical activity, as measured by the Emirates NBD fitness app.

Honda 'Project Drive-In'

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Through Project Drive-In, Japanese automaker Honda associated itself with an American icon, the drive-in movie theater, a nostalgic part of America’s car culture.