Cause-marketing has moved from the shadows into the spotlight. It's been around as a marketing tactic since Jerry Welch whispered into Lou Gershner's ear at American Express. "What if we made a contribution to the Statue of Liberty Restoration every time someone uses our card?"
It was the 1980's and that campaign drove 20% more card usage. Pretty good ROI.
The ROI issue for any marketing tactic is not going away. Got a new idea? Better run an ROI scenario before you present it. The trouble is that many cause-related opportunities tie to something very deep within people--a feeling of achieving a greater purpose. A good cause solves a real problem. And while a recent piece in Ad Age suggests there may be cause fatigue among consumers, it's more likely that people are suffering from problem fatigue. Which problem can we solve now, solve next, solve well?
The relevance that cause-marketing delivers is on the rise not the decline. Clutter exists, to be sure. But as long as people feel overwhelmed by a chaos of crises, unrelieved by governments that are impotent, then consumers will take note of the brands that are helping contribute to a can-do culture of hope based on solid acts.
This stunning creative from Amnesty International tells the story better than I can. How a simple act can make a world of difference. This is not something a company can achieve with any credibility unless it has a partnership with a mission-driven, non-profit.
Cause-marketing gives brands in the RenGen a purpose. The more profound the issues, the more purpose is achieved, the more powerful both brands become. In this unstable, tumultuous, often overwhelming world, the future will be pioneered by for-profits and non-profits working together. I can't imagine a better case for creating a partnership than the very survival of your brand.