THINK BEFORE YOU PINK: DO’S AND DON’TS OF CAUSE MARKETING
It’s no secret that marketing is no longer a one-way street between advertisers and consumers. Now more than ever, consumers are engaging with their favorite brands on a daily basis (thank you, social media), and this new avenue of marketing has changed everything — especially when it comes to marketing for a cause.
“Pinkwashing,” a term that has been given to the practice of using breast cancer awareness messages to promote consumer goods, has inspired the Think Before You Pink campaign. The campaign, first started by Breast Cancer Action, exposes marketers using breast cancer awareness in an effort to promote their products and make a profit. The campaign is dedicated to revealing brands and companies that exploit the breast cancer awareness cause more than they actually benefit it.
While brands will continue to use their products to promote breast cancer awareness (or any cause, for that matter) they must be prepared to face both acclaim and criticism.
Either way, one thing remains certain: It’s crucial to evaluate all aspects of a marketing campaign dedicated to promoting a cause. Authenticity and sincerity are key, but perhaps what is even more important is transparency.
Here are three campaigns for a cause that did it right:
1. Yoplait’s “Save Lids to Save Lives” campaign:
For 15 years, Save Lids to Save Lives has donated millions of dollars to the breast cancer cause—one lid at a time. Every year, Yoplait encourages its consumers to save and mail in their yogurt lids to raise 10 cents each for the fight against breast cancer. Since the start of the campaign, General Mills has contributed more than $50 million for the breast cancer cause through programs like Save Lids to Save Lives, Pink Together and Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure® Series.
Pinkwashing Lesson: In 2008, the company became the target of the Think Before You Pink campaign due to its production of yogurt with the cancer-linked synthetic growth hormone, rBGH. Shortly after, Yoplait agreed to stop using the hormone in its product, inspiring other yogurt companies to do the same.
2. Rotary International’s “This Close” Campaign:
For the past 20 years, Rotary International has been hard at work on their mission to eradicate polio. Their latest campaign, the This Close project, highlights Rotary’s progress: the organization is 99 percent toward its goal in eradicating the crippling disease.
I Imagine spearheaded this campaign, enlisting the help of prominent world leaders, humanitarians and celebrities to promote engagement with the cause from all around the world. As a result, more than 15,000 pledges to end polio were made from over 50 countries all around the world. Check out our case study here.
3. eBay’s “Giving Works” initiative:
Giving Works makes it convenient for businesses and individuals to raise money for their favorite causes by buying or selling on the e-commerce web site. Sellers can donate a percentage of anything they sell (up to 100 percent)—and get the same percentage discounted from their listing fees. Buyers can add a donation to any purchase, and anyone visiting the site can also make a case donation. As a result of this outstanding campaign, more than $200 million have been raised to support multiple causes all over the world.