Friday, November 10, 2006

For a Genuine Cause

In the marketing industry few terms which are doing rounds, the world over the last few decades, Buzz Marketing, Guerilla Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Database marketing, Engagement Marketing, Relationship Marketing, blah blah marketing and so on and now it’s the time for Cause Marketing.

‘Cause Marketing’ is believed to be an American phenomenon; it started some two decades ago with the restoration campaign of Statue of Liberty by American Express. Cause Marketing is not to be confused with Corporate Social Responsibility. Cause marketing can be analytical, promotional, reflection of a business perspective, non-profit point of view, consumer promotion but all for a noble cause. Typically in the domain of Non-profit, Cause Marketing has the potential to bring consumers together and eventually they take up the responsibility to run the show. WWF, Greenpeace, American Red Cross, PETA, CRY are all NGO’s fighting for a cause but see the way they have managed to bring consumers together for a cause.
Successful examples of Cause Marketing like ‘Dine America’ on the wake of Hurricane Katrina by the National Restaurant Association for American Red Cross, Build-a-Bear Workshop with WWF for creating awareness among children and parents alike about conservation of wildlife, TESCO Computer for Schools, Coca Cola with Reading is Fundamental (RIF) to bring back the joy of reading to American Children.
In India, however very few companies have taken up the responsibility of standing tall for a ‘Cause.’ I cannot think of one Cement Brand taking up the cause of building Gujarat after the Earthquake or a Food Brand for distributing food after the Tsunami ended in Andaman. They are either too skeptical or afraid of a possible backfire from consumers. Given the vast cultural, social, economical and geographical diversity of India, corporate world can really help build a better future for the new age Indians and bridge the huge gap still prevalent in our society.

Following are few examples of Cause Marketing that I can think off in the Indian Context:

1. The Online Matrimony Portal Brands taking up the cause of abolishing the prevailing Caste/ Creed & Dowry System for all match making done through their portals. Say for Example, they can start a campaign called, “Demand the Daughter, Not the Dowry.”

2. Online Job Search Portal Brands taking up the cause of finding possible employment for handicapped youths. They can offer non-technical jobs for uneducated young adult from the rural areas of India in collaboration with NGO’s etc, they can start a campaign, “Work your way up.”

3. Sanitary Ware Brands like Hindware, Kohler setting up public toilets in villages and other rural areas, the Cause of basic sanitation. (UNDP reports one in three Indians don’t have access to toilets). They can start an exciting campaign, “Har Subha Banao Suhana.”

4. Stationery Brands like ITC Papermate, Nightingale, Luxor, Camellin, and Linc taking up the cause of educating under-privileged children by helping them to read & write. A campaign called, “Paro, Likho aur Bade Ho Jao,” can help them gain immense mileage.

5. Household cleaning brands like Domex, Lizol, Scrotch Brite, Vim taking up the cause of educating and imparting knowledge about cleanliness and healthy living to people working as household maids & helping hands. “Hum banaye aap ki ghar swaccha,” or “Swaccha Morcha” a campaign aimed at bringing all helping hands under a banner.

6. Food brands like Britannia, Parle, Nestle, Cadbury’s, and Amul in collaboration with the Government’s Mid-Day Meal Program providing food supplies to children in rural villages. Something like, “Khana Khao, Sundar Raho,” will do wonders.

7. Intimate Wear Brands like WonderBra, VIP Feelings, Lovable, and Enamor taking up the cause of Women’s Breast Cancer. “Every Bra you buy contributes to those suffering from Breast Cancer.”

By taking up a genuine cause like the ones mentioned above Brands in India will not only generate a good PR for them but also get the empathy of loyal consumers. If brands can take a step further and engage loyal consumers to be a part of a genuine cause, they will empower the latter and build a bond which will last for generations to come. According to Prof. C. K. Prahlad, the treasure lies in the bottom of the pyramid. As Indians and people in the marketing, advertising and media industry it is our responsibility to uplift the down trodden. It can start with solving the basic human requirement as a first step and slowly moving up for a bigger, better and brighter cause. That will be the era of Marketing 2.0 in India.

To know more about Cause Marketing, visit

I could manage to write only seven of such causes. You can think of twenty one more like these and help build a better India. Any comments?


Anonymous said...

Financial Institutions sponsoring Self help group - 'providing livley hood'

Condom brands supporting AIDS awareness program.

A few my thoughts...great post..they would generate great content for media

FiNK said...

aaah.. everyone and their dog is jumping on the cause/ csr wagon at the mo it seems.

but it could be worthwhile.

did you see the elle breast cancer event in bby? that generated a lot of awarness + helped the magazine...

do we need to be cautious when picking up causes that may be controversial in smaller cities? what think.. could there be a negative backlash from this too?

pooR_Planner said...

UNFINKABLE..the thing is, Advertisers/agencies go to the rooftop and scream aloud, no one what does lateral thinking tell us??
You go to the street below and look up at the rooftop patiently for hours, curious people will gather to see what you're looking for up-above ...

Alas, not many are jumping the Cause Bandwagon. And those who are doing like Elle { :-( nopes, didn't get to see the event} are indeed ripping the benefits.

It all depends on the Cause that you choose. I don't think setting up a 'beautiful-sweet-smelly-loo' by Hindware on the outskirts of Mugholsorai will stir-up a controversy unless some 100 people land up fighting with lotha's (mugs/jars) in hand for their morning bowel movements.

Choose a Cause which Consumers would love to be a part off. Success lies in interactivity.


Kannadiga said...

Interesting. But I think the problem is not with the idea, but the execution that will get hijacked to reach lengths of unwanted PR. All I can do is hope people understand the idea of cause marketing before jumping with insincere ideas. But, you have made some interesting suggestions.

pooR_Planner said...

Raghu, completely agree that execution is the key factor. And yes, it needs to be a Geniune Cause (idea) which brands need to take up to engage consumers. The cause needs to be consumer driven rather than a marketing hype, which will fall flat due to irresponsible handling of the issue.
No PR is better than Bad PR, a fine line which brands need to adhere too.

Keep watching this space.

FiNK said...

are we discussing ideas or selling space, incidentally?

pooR_Planner said...

What do you feel FINK ???