Cause Roundtable: Worthwhile understanding

For its second-annual Cause Roundtable, PRWeek gathered marketers from agencies, corporations, and a nonprofit to share experiences in the increasingly popular area of cause marketing

For its second-annual Cause Roundable, PRWeek gathered marketers from agencies, corporations, and a nonprofit to share experiences in the increasingly popular area of cause marketing

 

Participants: 

Liz Cahill, VP of marketing, Lee Jeans

Randall Chinchilla, external relations manager, hair care, P&G

Susan Duchak, director of Teen Safety driving program, Allstate Foundation

David Hessekiel, founder and president, Cause Marketing Forum

Christopher Mann, associate manager of integrated marketing, New Balance

Susan Puflea, EVP and director of the Change practice, GolinHarris

Jessiah Styles, director of cause related marketing and strategic partnerships, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America

Mike Swenson, president, Barkley PR

Michael Trese, VP of external affairs and strategic philanthropy, L'Oreal Paris

Cynthia Walsh, executive director of marketing, Self magazine 

 

Erica Iacono (PRWeek): All of the companies here are longtime supporters of cause marketing. What was the initial impetus for getting involved?

 

Liz Cahill (Lee Jeans): About 70 % of our consumer base [is] women. We sell both to men and to women but we also know the primary purchaser of the family is a woman and we wanted to be able to do something to give back to our consumers. For women, we know that there [are] issues with children and child abuse and poverty but what started to come out is cancer. It affects everybody. But the more we spoke – we had a lot of roundtable discussions such as this with internal senior management – the more we talked, we realized that everybody at the table had either known somebody or had been personally affected by breast cancer. And that was kind of an a-ha moment because there were about 10 women sitting around the room and it's like if all of us have had this close of a relationship, let's go out and really understand how is this affecting our consumer base. Thirteen years ago, not many people were talking about breast cancer. There wasn't a lot of awareness. So, we knew this was something that was very relevant to [who] our consumer was and knew that we had to do something to try to at least bring the awareness out.

Susan Duchak (Allstate Foundation): I think that it's not only what the big social needs that affect our customers, but it's also an opportunity to reflect the core values of the business and what the business expertise is. The catalyst for [Allstate] back in 2004 was to really take a look at how we could bring our expertise as an insurance and a financial service company, and …align it with not only what our business interests were but also what the community issues were. [When] we ended up on teen driving and financial empowerment for victims or survivors of domestic violence, it really took a look at, as an insurance company, we certainly know about motor vehicle safety. We had a long history of involvement in seatbelts and airbags and stronger bumpers so we felt like we had something to offer … and I would suggest that when a parent hands the keys over to their teenager, there's no other issue of greater importance to a parent than whether or not that child is going to come home that night. Similarly, with domestic violence, and focusing more on the financial empowerment reflected our ability in financial services to address an issue that wasn't being addressed in a big way. In domestic violence, one of out four women know somebody who is a victim of domestic violence and when you look at the stats, one of the biggest obstacles to a woman leaving an abusive situation is finances, the ability to pay for themselves, so taking our financial services expertise and then lending that to an issue, too. I think the important thing is looking at your customer but also finding where it intersects with your business needs.

Susan Puflea (GolinHarris): I'm often asked why do companies start down this path? And my answer is, “It really doesn't matter.” What matters is that they do and that they do it in the right way. [If] they're starting from a defensive strategy because they're being attacked by some outside activist organization, or it's really part of the corporate character and they do it simply because it's who they are, it really doesn't matter, but as long as it's authentic and it's relevant to the consumer and it links to the business and it's got a link to the business. Companies don't have to be purely altruistic. They're in business for a reason and capitalism does have a place in corporate responsibility and cause marketing, and it's the balance that's really what's important.

Randall Chinchilla (Procter & Gamble): Our core purpose as a company is to improve the everyday lives of consumers around the world. So there's one aspect of Procter & Gamble, from the philanthropic standpoint, where we do contribute to a program called “Live, Learn, and Thrive” that basically is focused on children, from 0 to 13 [years old] and that, on an annual basis, we're estimated that we're reaching anywhere from 40 to 50 million children around the world, and programs so diverse as education and nutrition. So that's our philanthropic background as a company and that purpose again touches, overlaps with the brands and that's where, in our case, specifically with Pantene, we are actually P&G's largest beauty brand and, therefore … our core mission as a brand is to focus on women's transformation and helping them enhance their beauty. And we were wondering, as the leading shampoo and conditioner brand in the world, we felt we had an obligation to reach out and lend a hand to our consumers.

Christopher Mann (New Balance): When Liz talked about a bunch of employees sitting around and saying “OK. Wow. Look at the connections here. We're all associated with [breast cancer],” that's very much how we became involved and we're talking 20 years ago. I would love to say we sat down and thought strategically, “This is going to be aligned with our consumer; this is where we're going.” [That] absolutely wasn't the case. I think it was, quite simply, some individual associates in our offices who felt passionately about the cause, everywhere from the top office in the company down to our factory level and, so, you had a group of women that said this is something that's important to us. It started very grassroots – a few local sponsorships, things like that. It grew over time because of their passion, their dedication, into a more strategic approach, [into] something that matched very well with both our consumer targets but then what we do as a company and what makes sense for us marketing. We're not the big guy in the athletic footwear industry. We're not going to be spending mass media dollars. Where we're effective is on a grassroots level. It's getting out in people's communities. It's showing our authentic care for their daily [lives] and giving them a chance to be healthy through that. So, all the tenets match up really well and we've been fortunate in that I think we've been able to have our strategy delve very closely into our cause.

 

Michael Trese (L'Oreal Paris): We started in a strategic way 13 years ago by really looking at the landscape of causes to align ourselves with and we knew because, being a women's beauty company and our heritage is really the phrase from the 1970s, “Because I'm worth it,” which now is “Because You're Worth It,” it's taken a whole new life and meaning out of it. The past few years, we knew that the area for us to be in was women's health and empowerment issues, and breast cancer initiatives have been so inspiring with what can be achieved but when we found out that ovarian cancer was the deadliest cancer and also the most underfunded and that there no major corporations supporting it, we really felt as a corporation that we had to get involved and we've never regretted that decision. And it's really, as everybody said, it's so important to be fully integrated within the business. So we have a makeup collection that every year is an annual fundraiser, called the Color of Hope collection, and we have [a] communication program.

Mike Swenson (Barkley): I think that the common thread that I hear everyone talking about is – and this goes back to your question about when companies get involved is, “Will companies have the discipline to stay with it, and not treat it as a product launch, not treat it as something else, but rather have the discipline to really stay with it?”   And people in this room understand it, it's going outside of this room to the other 80 % that don't get it, that we all have to beat our heads against the wall to convince them it's the right thing to do but, it's got to be more than a year. You got to look at it as, we're not going to put a timetable on this, and that's one of the tricks and one of the secrets. But, if you can get a company to do that, as well as the not-for-profit partner, they need to understand that there's some stability there.

Mann (New Balance): It's really no different than the basics of kind of marketing and advertising your brand… it's frequency, it's how many times can someone see the same thing. So it's somewhat interesting that…you do have companies go from cause to cause but I don't think it's not from understanding that principle, per se. I think it's a desire to do as much as possible so some companies may say we want to pick and choose, which is a good thing, certainly benefitting as many causes as you can, but I do think that when you can make that lasting investment, you see that benefit five-, ten-fold for your company and then your cause partner does because then it becomes more of a relationship, instead of a transactional thing.

Cahill (Lee Jeans): One year of putting your logo on something – your consumer is going to see straight through that. They're going to know it's not authentic, that there's not the genuine commitment, and then there's the false sponsorship of something. We're here for the long-haul. We're not just putting our logo on something because it makes us feel good; we really want to help you. And we want to make sure that our brand shows our values care about your values so there are a lot of times we see new people maybe coming into our organization and [say] let's make a product and sell it, with a logo on it. And it's more than that. It's a different level of commitment that you have to have with this cause program. And, yes, there [are] some ROI benefits that come from it. And, we all are here in business and we need to run our businesses very fiscally responsible, but there's that intangible, that loyalty to your brand, that you know that your consumers not only like your product, but love your brand. And that's [what] cause marketing, I think, can really add, from a brand perspective. 

Cynthia Walsh (Self magazine): What I will say, though, is after meeting with 90 different companies across the country, is one of the top problems that they have is maintaining that commitment because a new marketing director comes in and a new pet cause changes. So, from their side, I can certainly understand the frustration. From Self's standpoint, it started very organically. We created the pink ribbon in 1992 in honor of our first editor who died of breast cancer and so Self is known as a magazine with a conscience. That's part of the DNA and so it just makes sense. So it's not something that is a concerted effort, it's something our readers can care about. And…we do the woman's cancer handbook. It's not like it's a separate entity and I think some of the best cause marketing efforts are when you can't tell when the cause marketing ends and when the traditional marketing begins. So it really is all kind of one in the same.

 

Chinchilla (P&G): I will contend that that's a really important point because it all boils down to what your objectives are, the genesis of a new project, and I think sometimes there's an overlap between philanthropy and cause-related marketing and that's the first distinction that needs to be made. Why is this something you're engaging [in] on some sort of corporate responsibility [level] and, basically, kind of the point I was making with having our “Live, Learn and Thrive” corporate cause, being linked to our purpose as a company, that's who we are. So, for us to challenge down the line, because the market is slowing down, we're going to stop helping children in the world. We're not going to stop doing that because it's intrinsic to who we are, our identity as a company.

Puflea (GH): Well, on a very basic level, it's really the difference of approaching it as a strategic undertaking or a tactic.

 

Duchak (Allstate): I would say, too, that one of the best ways to get institutional patience that allows corporations to stay with an issue for more than just one season or one year is if you select the issue that you're going after very strategically. Finding again that intersection between what it is your business has to offer and what it is your consumers want. And then, once you are strategic in identifying that issue, then developing a very outcomes-based measurement framework so you can show you're making progress on the issue because that progress, that success that you have, breeds greater investments on the part of the company. Because once you get the people involved in it, it's very hard for that new person coming into the corporation to say, “New idea, here.”

David Hessekiel (Cause Marketing Forum): I was going to say one of the key elements in developing that strategic win-win formula that can led to a win-win-win is, as you say, picking your cause well. Picking your cause well can also mean picking a cause partner that brings elements to the equation that enable you to accomplish more than if you were going to invent it all yourself and that is one of the key pressure points for all of the nonprofits out there that are competing for the opportunity to partner with great American brands. Some of them have invested in creating major event series which enable a brand to get in front of a consumer in a way that they wouldn't otherwise. Or they have projects that a brand can get involved with and then show that there's been some accomplishment, as opposed to a sort of generalized “We did some good because we gave a certain dollar amount.” So, part of the best practice is if you can start your engagement off by strategically picking something that is sustainable for your business and then finding a way to leverage the relationships as well as the halo effect of the relationships that cause [marketing] can take you so much further.

Iacono (PRWeek): Jessiah, as the only nonprofit here, have you seen any increase in companies looking to do good, or partner with causes?

 

Jessiah Styles (Big Brothers Big Sisters of America): I came from the independent sector, with a background in marketing consulting within the recording industry, and so one of the things you talked about was authenticity. When I was consulting in the music industry, you had all these brands when hip-hop really exploded – there were those, like the Mountain Dews and the Sprites, Tommy Hilfiger, that really was in the trenches – and then there were those that swooped in and so we called those culture-vultures. And I see that's duplicated here in the cause marketing world. Big Brothers Big Sisters has not been known to be a destination for cause marketing. My position [was] newly created for me to bring that to the table and kind of grow the business. A lot of people get us confused with [the] Boys & Girls Club[s of America]. It's challenging for us because we're not an illness, we're not a sickness. It's hard to compete so we're investing into how to make our brand urban and relevant so we commissioned a firm … to help us become more relevant in the area of cause marketing. The corporate partners that we have currently [are] more from a feel-good sense but they didn't really know what direction it was in, it wasn't so much a strategic direction [that was] built around it. So there's an education process that's going on with our current clients and it's growing the relationship out of the foundation … with the foundation into the marketing department, as well as to PR. With our prospect list, we're really trying to see how we can fit and make it a win-win for both and really have that sustainable relationship down the road. So, no, they're not beating down the door for us – to answer your question – but we are gearing up to beat down the door with them …

Hessekiel  (CMF): A great metaphor for that transformation which is happening at nonprofit organizations all across America is the difference of approaching a corporation with your hand out as opposed to, say, your hand up. This is what we can do for you; this is what we can accomplish together. As opposed to saying you're there for a win-win but really you're asking for a donation.

Iacono (PRWeek): Given the current state of the economy, is this an area where you're looking to cut back? If not, does that then become part of your external messaging, reinforcing that commitment?

Walsh (Self): We just fielded [a study] in September…[and we found]  that 80 % of women are concerned that companies will cut back on the good that they're doing in bad economic times. At the same time, 79 % said they would be more inclined to buy from companies that do good in both good and bad economic times. And [when] we asked them why, they said things to the effect that they felt that really proved a commitment that was genuine with what those companies were doing; they didn't feel like it was a flash in the pan. So, I think now more than ever is the time that you absolutely should be out there … Consumers are looking to companies to help them do good through purchasing their products.

Trese (L'Oreal): What better time than in an economy such as this to really, truly be expressing the core values of a company? Because not only is the consumer buying your product, they're buying your company. It's a vote of confidence in your company. They want to be aligned with you. They have an emotional attachment to the brand that they're purchasing. I mean, we feel with our initiative – ovarian cancer, both research and awareness building – that we're speaking to the consumer, women, [and] we're speaking to their families, letting them know we care about them, and we're also having a wonderful conversation with our retailer, our retail partners, who are so important to us. And the more that they know about who we are as a company, the more that we can have a rich conversation to perhaps look at other programs that perhaps we could do together in the future together. And then the other conversation is maybe the most important one and that's the one with our employees. So, when they go home to their families every night, they talk about the company and the values, and I think this is a very important time for that.

Swenson (Barkley): I think the internal, sometimes - I don't want to say it's forgotten - but I think the internal benefit to companies is the last to be noticed. But, then, at the end, it becomes the strongest because you're creating all these ambassadors that are going out there, and a lot of times, I wonder if it's not a great way to go back to the question about new companies coming in and to just think about it as an internal opportunity to really do something that makes the people who work for you feel really good. And that can sometimes be the strongest benefit.

Iacono (PRWeek): So how important is that internal communications in terms of cause marketing?

Puflea (GH): It's essential and you have to take an inside-out strategy just as you would with any other branding approach, really, and you must engage the employees first. And, while the employees may or may not buy your products, they are certainly a life force that's going to be driving the company and it does drive retention and they do become brand ambassadors.

Cahill (Lee Jeans): That's exactly where Lee is at today with our program. We've had some management change over the last couple years and somebody will come in, and not question to remove it but question the validity of what's going on…[but] it's to a point now that we can't walk away. Our employees would take us down. I mean, it's their program, it's not our marketing program, it's not our brand program, it's their program.

Duchak (Allstate): Don't you think it also improves your business performance, too? When you have somebody from the line working with someone from the staff who would otherwise never have an opportunity to chat with each other but now you're bringing them together. And you create a whole new level of teamwork for the corporation, I think, that really benefits all aspects of the business.

Iacono (PRWeek): Going back to the ROI conversation:  If you do have a new CEO or new CMO come in, how do you justify the spend on cause marketing? What metrics do you use?

Cahill (Lee Jeans): We've been doing this for 13 years and believe me we didn't set it up perfectly to begin with. You learn over time…what the metrics are. You choose the metrics you're going to measure success against and it's very difficult in our model to say “We drove a jean purchase” because we don't actually ask people to buy our product. But, what we've been able to do is set metrics, such as brand loyalty, brand awareness, awareness to a good cause. We will track that year over year to see what is the responsiveness, what does that mean. You're utilizing outside syndicated research to be able to show how that can translate into brand loyalty. We've been able to develop a pretty good track record to then, as new people come in…to be able to say, “This is working. And this is how it's working.”

Hessekiel (CMF): All of us are dedicated to this. Doing what I do I'm thinking about it seven days a week. I'm supposed to be sharing the good information that's out in the field and sometimes I want to kick the table because that is a question [where] the metrics have to be applied, not only to cause marketing, but to everything that goes on in terms of spend at the company. And one of the great “a-has” for me, back when I was working at a consumer marketing agency, was that even with what would seem to be the most straightforward, traceable program, there's a lot of art in marketing. I think there was once upon a time a feeling that if you were doing the right thing, that somehow there was pixie dust associated with giving a check to a cause and all sorts of wonderful benefits were going to fall out of it, even though you weren't applying the rigor that you would apply to any other marketing enterprise that you were engaged in. The good news is that the leverage and the application of your efforts that can come from attaching yourself in a wise way to a cause are tremendous, but they are not a substitute for supporting your programs with media, being smart and strategic, finding a viral way to get the word out, just as you would if you were going to be teaming up with a sport or the latest movie star or a new product improvement. If you don't let people know what's going on out there, it's like a tree that falls in the forest that nobody hears.

 

Iacono (PRWeek): Do you feel that sometimes cause marketing is under a little bit more scrutiny as far as marketing spend? Do you have to prove yourself a little bit more?

Swenson (Barkley): I think it falls prey to the normal budgeting process. When things get siloed and all of a sudden, you're presenting an entire marketing plan, which a cause marketing component might be there but things sometimes get pulled out. And then you applying this metrics of measurement against this one thing and when, in fact, it's designed to do part of the work, not all the work. So, I think that's, I think that's the struggle, the budgeting and planning process, it all stays together, and the marketing plan stays together really well, and the plan doesn't get broken apart but we know that's not what happens … To show people, that like public relations 20 years ago and how to measure PR. Well, there's lots of ways, let me show you. Cause, there are lots of ways, too, but if you're measuring a sale, against the sale of a product, we may not be able to show that specifically but we can show you that what it's doing is building … for your other marketing efforts. You're building internal morale, you're building external halos, and you're getting all that. And, yes, that's part of measurement. It's when it gets broken down and it gets siloed that it's said, “Tell me: how are you going to measure this?” I want to say, “Well, let's talk about what else is happening around the brand.

Puflea (GH): Or when you lose the important marketing elements of cause marketing. It's just like no one buys an Olympic sponsorship and stops there. You don't just buy the right to use the rings. You then have to pay money to do something and market it, and cause marketing is very much the same.

Swenson (Barkley): When you think about brands, and there's several you can talk about, that have a high recognition and they are doing well, it's because they talked a lot. They marketed. They've advertised about what they're doing. They haven't been afraid to talk about it and they may not be raising as much money or helping as much as some others but, to their credit, they went out and talked about it. And, there should be a lesson there, too.

Walsh (Self): The key thing we've tried to tell companies is you're actually providing a huge emotional benefit to consumers. Don't think about it as this evil thing that you're talking about. It's a wonderful thing that you're doing that's part of what your brand stands for and we found that, for women, it actually it's helping her feel more connected to the brand she buys … Now, just by purchasing a product that does good, she personally feels like she's socially responsible. She's doing a good deed; she's giving back, just by purchasing a product. So, we see it – the way you described it as helping her to feel closer to that idealized view that she has for herself, the way she wants to think about herself, in that simple way, and then she's ultimately more connected to the brand she buys.

Chinchilla (P&G): I have to make a case for strategy. And I know you're framing the question rightfully so in the current economic context but I have to admit that even in my pre-P&G life … regardless of the economic situation, how the business is doing, I've always, as it relates to cause-related marketing, been asked for results. But the reality is that when it comes to cause-related marketing, there is a clear, hard line to profit. So, like any other project…it will not pay out in the first year. So, the same rationale applies … within one, two, three, four, five, 13 years, what is our vision?  We started [Pantene Beautiful Lengths] in … 2006. So far we've collected, roughly…100,000 ponytails. Right now, this program is unstoppable because, guess what? It is relevant, there is a true need, no one was helping this. If we wanted to stop the program right now, we couldn't. And so I guess the point I'm trying to make here is whether you mold your employees, whether your objective is to mold consumers, etc.  I think if you really carve out a strategy that has the right combination … It [puts] it into a place where the program, all of a sudden, becomes about the consumer and the consumer is the hero, not the brand. In our case, Pantene is enabling these women to shine through helping other women. So that's kind of how we're looking at it.

Hessekiel (CMF): Knowing what a measurement-oriented company you are, the part that you didn't mention was, clearly, the consumers have bought into this. What's it doing for the brand?

Chinchilla (P&G): Well, that's a great question. I think that…we clearly want to make that connection to the profitability of the business, no question. We want to make sure that we generate that win-win-win framework. We also looked at other sectors which are relevant to us, other than ROI. But, still ROI, I would contend, probably is the most important one and we've taken [it] to a product. We've just launched a collection called Beautiful Lengths. So, it's the only collection that we have that has a distinctive cap – it's a lavender-colored cap … and the product benefit is, it's a product that protects and moisturizes the hair, and protects it against breakage, so you can grow your hair longer, and donate it to the cause, if that's what you want to do. And, a portion of the proceeds of the product goes to the program. So, it's a way in which the cause has come to life, in a very tangible way, and by the way it's the fastest growing collection that we currently have, I'm happy to say.

Mann (New Balance): There [are] two interesting insights there that are relevant for all of us as we think about going forward. One is when you think about changing landscape, and changing consumer landscape and what's available to them. Increasingly, your cause and your brand [are] not owned by you and it's not going to be. It's going to be theirs. They're going to create it, they going to change it, they going to take it and run with it, so that's probably where you'll see a lot of benefits for companies that get ahead of the curve on that, that's where you'll see their cause support take leaps and bounds is by empowering consumers to take that and run with it, and going their own direction. The only thing that's unique with that is, particularly in marketing to women, when you think about cause and financial, we tended to focus on women as the consumer, both for the purchasing power but both because, for whatever reason, with women it tends to resonate. The one thing you think about there, when I think about marketing men versus women; men you market on envy, and women, you market on pretty much empathy. That's kind of the key difference. Men want the sports car, it's more about me, it's about the product, the features, the benefits, it's the coolness of what I have … But, when it comes to women, and particularly cause, empathy is the key. It's the experience. It's the shared experience – it's “I want to connect, individually, personally, with you. Or with you, within my group” and that's why we've moved to grassroots so much with these programs, because that's the experience. It's not, you're purchasing the product, hey, that makes you feel something about yourself personally. Yeah, that's powerful, that's still there. It's when you complete that event and you did it as a shared group experience, like hair-cutting events, something along those lines, that's just on another level of what you want from brand engagements.

Swenson (Barkley): What's exciting, too, is about the grassroots of social media. We're all doing things with social media and all the various causes, but things you don't really have to strategize. You don't have to sit around and think of things, you just have to make it available and then communities will form around this cause. They may form on Facebook or MySpace or they may create their own but they'll form there. Actions will start happening and you can't strategize that. You can put the ideas out there and make it simple enough to engage. And all the ideas we're talking about here are very simple. But, then people go, “But, what else can we do?”

Puflea (GH): One of the common outcomes of all of these here, I think, in general, successful cause marketing programs, is achieving emotional engagement, with the brand and with the cause to help the cause even further. The brand becomes the conduit to the cause but it ceases to be about the brand so much as it's just a way to help the cause even further. That kind of attachment to either the cause and/or the brand is just something that really is a bond is that very, very difficult to break, and it's a bond that's very, very difficult to achieve. So, once it is achieved, it's priceless. That's something that you can't measure the ROI of that, because there's simply no way to really quantify what that means to people.

Iacono (PRWeek): How important do you think that celebrity component is to a cause marketing campaign?

Cahill (Lee Jeans): The celebrity in our case is chosen… very carefully because we want to make sure that every celebrity that is brought to our cause or is an ambassador for us has as much passion for the cause as we do. And, as I mentioned earlier, so many people have been either affected or closely affected by it, it's unfortunate today it's not very difficult to find a celebrity today that has experienced some type of breast cancer within their own family, or family and friends. So, that's the criteria for us. We want to make sure they are as committed to our program as possible and the reason celebrity ambassadors are helpful – I can't say they make or break our campaigns – but they are helpful because we are celebrity-obsessed to this point today and they do have some stopping power. They will help consumers stop and look.

Duchak (Allstate): We use them a lot in our teen driving program because we're trying to encourage teens to drive safely as we're trying to sell a fundamentally uncool subject to a highly fickle audience. So if you can bring a celeb there that can kind of give that cool halo to the issue, it really helps a lot. We found the same thing. We had Taylor Swift involved in one of our programs and she's really hot in the country music scene, and we got all of her fan groups and it was just phenomenal. We also see it working a little bit differently in our domestic violence issue in that, in this week's [US Weekly], we have a big story about a partnership we're doing with Dress for Success – it's called Tell a Gal PAL. It's a great program about bringing a handbag to donate to Dress for Success, which in turn donates to a woman who is either entering or reentering the workforce. And, in today's world, there are so many companies that are doing cause-related programs that you really have to kind of find new ways to break through the noise, if you will. And, in this case, we got Ana Ortiz from Ugly Betty, to be our spokesperson and she just generated a lot of awareness for this program because she, in fact, was a survivor of domestic violence in one of her relationships. So, again, [a celebrity must] speak passionately to the issue and I have to tell you the media that she has generated for us has been outstanding. We could never have gotten that kind of media without a famous figure who could tell the story about it.

Swenson (Barkley): I can't prove it but it's one of those questions that sometimes we don't answer honestly when we're asked. Or, we don't understand it – that maybe the celebrity had more of an influence than we're willing to give credit to. Because it is more about the people around us, our families and friends who influence us, and things like that.

Trese (L'Oreal): There is no doubt there is a lot of impact there but for us, for L'Oreal as a company, the spokespeople that are aligned with our brands are actually spokespeople for the brand. And, so, oftentimes, I would say that every time now when we are signing for negotiations with a new spokesperson, they want to know what we represent as a company. They are really asking us and they get extremely involved once they understand the history of how long we have supported ovarian cancer research, that it's the fifth deadliest disease affecting women. They really want to help in any way they can. And we've been so lucky. Andie MacDowell, who has been representing L'Oreal for 20 years, worked with us to do the first public service campaign ever for ovarian cancer and it's still in rotation on television. She did both print and television. Milla Jovovich, who represents the cosmetics' younger side, talking to the younger consumer. This past year, we have been so fortunate, we have signed Kerry Washington and Kerry Washington's mother is a breast cancer survivor and totally knows how lucky she is because of the early detection. And we do not have any means of early detection for ovarian cancer so Kerry has been incredibly articulate and has just woven that into her whole campaign, her publicity campaign around Lakeview Terrace. Eva Longoria Parker, also, they both did a huge campaign for us in the month of September, speaking about the signs and the symptoms of ovarian cancer and really an educational program around that. We feel so fortunate and they know they have so much impact with the consumer out there, when they take it and really weave it into all their efforts in communication. It's so wonderful for all of us.

Styles (Big Brothers/Big Sisters): To touch on celebrities, a really good friend of mine, Hill Harper, actually went to Harvard Law with Barack Obama and they were friends and he has also been a Big Brother for eight years. Two years ago, when I first came on board, I said, “Hey. You're at the top of my list. I need you to come and work with us and see how we can leverage your celebrity and help the cause.” And, within a month, he was on Oprah because they did a whole special on mentoring. And, that, within itself, we probably had 1800 inquiries in that one airing where normally, [there are] 1,800 a month … And, so, celebrities do draw attention … But also the power because he has an affinity for our organization because he's lived it and so he's speaking from an authentic standpoint. That's really the combination of the two.

Swenson (Barkley PR): I think another dynamic in cause is that … nonprofits are being very aggressive today and not just waiting for someone to come ask them to the dance but coming up with ideas and going out and saying, “We have these ideas.” So, it's not just having their hand up, it's having their hand up and saying, “By the way, we've got this, we've got this, we've got this, that fit our brand ... and let's find a way to work together and engage each other.” That's one of the most exciting dynamics that's been going on for the last five or 10 years for nonprofits, getting in the game and saying, “We're not going to wait around. We're going to be there and we're going to come to you, New Balance, and see if we can't find a fit. And maybe we can't but we're going to try.”

Puflea: As you said, you're going through that exercise now and nonprofits have to do that because, at the end of the day, it's all about partnership and whether you're talking about the celebrity spokesperson you bring on board or the corporation that's aligned with the charity and the cause, or the consumers and the employee engagement, it's all about that collective partnership and there has to be the right kind of alignment, in terms of focus on an end goal and if that's missing in any place, the objectives aren't going to be achieved in the way they can be. So, we talk a lot about strategy and coming at it from a very strategic standpoint, all of the decisions that are made certainly have to keep that in mind. You have to think about it as a partnership and it's not one organization, or entity, that wins over another. All can. All can win in the end.

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