Cause-related marketing – a new wave?

Cause-related marketing – a new wave?

The current generation of cause-driven marketing campaigns is breaking new ground. Here is a look at some recent examples from across industries.

Much has been said on the impact of millennials on the cultural and business spheres.

There’s no doubt that younger people are increasingly demanding that the companies they buy from act in an ethical manner and/or participate in charity campaigns. Smart businesses – thinking in the medium to long term – are tapping into the trend to maintain their customer bases into the future.

According to CauseGood, this kind of cause marketing has grown from US$600m to US$2bn industry in 10 years. Here are just a couple of recent examples that show how it should be done.


The latter part of 2016 has been so filled with memorable events that it’s easy to forget this was an Olympic year.

However, it would be a big mistake to forget the #PasstheFlame campaign from Bank of America and Special Olympics. It is a good example of how cause marketing can be done right.

Special Olympics exists to help one of the world’s most marginalised groups, the 3% of the global population with intellectual disabilities. The idea is to break down barriers for them and promote inclusion, through the power and popularity of sport. Bank of America has a 30-year partnership with the event.

The most recent Special Olympics (Summer Games) was held in Los Angeles in 2015. For this, the two organisations decided to stage the Unified Relay Across America (URAA).

To promote the charity’s goals, torchbearers and volunteers – including people from Bank of America – helped to carry the Olympic torch across the United States.

This formed part of an employee engagement programme, which also included a greater focus on Bank of America’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Leaders within the bank were engaged through regular communication about the purpose of the campaign, plus pairings with Special Olympics leaders and athletes.

Meanwhile, employees took on roles as internal ambassadors to drive the campaign. The broader employee pool was reached using different communication methods, including a blog, intranet and video coverage created by intellectually disabled employees, and also through diverse volunteering opportunities.

The partnership helps to strengthen the bank’s brand value and customer loyalty but, above all, is an excellent platform for team-building. The successful result of the 2015 campaign was that thousands of Bank of America employees volunteered their time for the project.

So positive was the result that the partnership has been expanded through 2018.

Digital donations

Marketers are constantly reminded of the importance of digital – but what are the digital experts in the gaming industry doing in their cause marketing?

A positive example is offered by the partnership of the Call of Duty Endowment and US retailer Best Buy.

When Best Buy wanted to promote Gamers Club Unlocked membership programme, the company knew it was best to do so in the authentic voice of its target audience. It identified the launch of a major new release, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, as the perfect opportunity.

This was done by linking up with the Call of Duty Endowment, which was founded to help US army veterans get back to work. The campaign took the form of a live-stream marathon session of the new game – called the “Race to Prestige” – with YouTube gamer personalities playing Black Ops 3 in a relay. Fans could watch, comment and donate to the Call of Duty Endowment. Those who gave were offered rewards by Best Buy, which also supported the event on social media. Meanwhile another participating company – Activision – offered to match gifts from viewers.

The mutual benefits of this cause-driven campaign are clear. It was the third year that the Race to Prestige was held, but the first with Best Buy as a partner – and this time, more than US$450,000 was raised for the Call of Duty Endowment. This included US$204,000 from viewers – a 1,360% increase on the year before. Meanwhile, awareness of Gamers Club Unlocked was strongly increased through featured ads on the livestream, and people were made aware of its existence by voices that they trusted.

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