Marketing for a Better World: How Entertainment is the Critical Link between Brand and Cause


Everyone can make a difference by supporting the causes they care about. Getting involved gives people a sense of purpose and meaning in life, and makes them feel good about themselves. While the economic downturn has resulted in reduced public funding and private philanthropy, consumers are increasingly demonstrating their support for social issues by purchasing cause-branded products.

There has never been a better time for marketers to raise brand awareness by linking products with causes, a celebrity endorsement and stylish entertainment component.

We can learn some valuable lessons about how to successfully blend entertainment into cause-driven campaigns from one of the most successful mission-driven ventures, (RED) which was co-founded by the famous U2 singer, Bono, to help eradicate AIDS.

This week, Tiesto, one of the world’s most famous DJs, is mobilizing a huge community of dance music fans, with the goal of achieving an AIDS free generation by 2015. Tiesto is tapping into their youthful passion and energy by delivering a unique music experience on December 1st, World AIDS Day, which will be viewable via YouTube live stream. Fans can also get an exclusive compilation album, DANCE (RED), SAVE LIVES -featuring Bono.

This is a cause I care deeply about. Every minute, a young woman is infected by HIV, and 900 babies are born daily with the virus. My company has a corporate responsibility program that provided a StarStar code, which people can use to support the campaign, by simply calling **RED.

What is the best way to maximize the positive impact for both the brand and the societal issue?

Find quality partners: Marketers must carefully select the best mission-driven organizations to partner with, and produce high quality entertainment experiences, that are delivered via premium media vehicles, technologies and venues. (RED) has generated $200 million in funds by partnering with Apple, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Belvedere, Gap, Bugaboo, Nike and many other companies, who contribute proceeds from the sale of (RED)-branded products and services. The brands and (RED) cross-benefit from the partnership.

Be strategic: Once you add cause-related marketing to the mix, it is critical the efforts have a direct transparent link to businesses goals. This actually improves a programs success because it is likely to deepen the long-term commitment required from corporate executives, and increase the likelihood that consumers associate a brand with a particular cause.

Identify a niche: The most successful efforts narrowly define and target a specific market and customer. Then, you can engage a celebrity or brand ambassador that exemplifies the values, lifestyle and character of the intended audience. The spokesperson must be able to articulate their concern about the given issue with authenticity.

Go digital: Leverage the power of digital entertainment experiences in campaigns. Mobile and social media are now prevalent in every category of age, geography, income, education and lifestyle.

The current TAG Heuer campaign is another excellent example of a well-designed charitable initiative that uses all of these best practices. Last week, the luxury smartphone and watchmaker hosted a charity event to raise funds and awareness for NY Cares and UN Women (focused on the empowerment of women). The soiree was held below the dramatic glass-cubed planetarium sphere at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Guests were entertained by a special performance of the New York City Ballet, and then danced the night away to the music of red-hot DJ Evalicious. Hollywood brand ambassador, Cameron Diaz, who symbolizes contemporary glamour, wore a limited-edition watch, which benefits UN Women. She tied the brand to the cause: Time is the most precious thing that we have and to be able to do something productive and useful with our time is the most important thing.



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