Cause marketing has come a long way over the last twenty five years.
Since the days when American Express asked consumers to help them restore the Statue of Liberty simply by charging, companies quickly realized cause marketing could drive sales and consumer transactions.
Why then are many people criticizing KFC's recent “Buckets for the Cure” cause marketing campaign to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure? After all, 50 cents for each pink bucket of chicken purchased would go to breast cancer.
The problem is things have dramatically changed over the years. Cause marketing has quickly been incorporated into the relatively new corporate responsibility movement. And, consumers are now demanding that companies be responsible first, before trying to profit, when it comes to solving today's most pressing societal issues.
There's no question breast cancer remains a top societal issue and one in which many companies should consider when deciding where to put their social investments.
The question is: should that company be a quick service restaurant?
The answer would attract great debate, but that would take the focus away from the real opportunity here. Today, companies need to dig deep within their souls and clearly define what their purpose is in society before ever deciding what causes they should support. There is a current understanding with many leading CEOs today that if a company lives out its purpose, profit will follow.
Causes can be found in purpose. There are many companies and brands doing this right. Pedigree's purpose is centered on doing things for the love of dogs. As a brand, if they truly stand for doing everything for the love of dogs, it makes sense to focus their cause efforts on the millions of dogs in shelters who need a loving home.
Scott Beaudoin is the North America director of CSR and cause marketing and SVP of consumer marketing at MS&L Worldwide.