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Handing Out Halos: Cause Marketing Forum Honors Industry’s Best

By Elisabeth Anderson on June 11, 2008No Comment

Handing Out Halos by Elisabeth Anderson

Explained CMF President David Hessekiel, “In 1990 cause marketing spending was a bit more than $100 million — this year it is forecast to reach $1.5 billion.”

The signature piece of the day-long conference, the Halo Awards, recognized noteworthy 2007 campaigns in a slew of categories. (A complete list of winners appears at the conclusion of this article). This year’s Golden Halo Awards were presented to McDonald’s and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

An inspirational — and effective — case:
St. Jude’s VP of Corporate Alliances Clark Sweat described the ten-year evolution of his mega-nonprofit’s “Thanks and Giving” campaign, elucidating the strategy and execution that made it award-worthy. The holiday fundraising drive, through which consumers at select retailers are asked to add a little extra on top of their purchase amount to benefit St. Jude, began in 1998 with three corporate partners and one fundraising day — Black Friday. Today the campaign boasts approximately 50 corporate partners from across the retail spectrum, from Ann Taylor to American Airlines and Domino’s to Diane von Furstenberg. The campaign runs throughout the entire holiday period, and corporations are empowered to decide how best to incorporate St. Jude collateral into their materials.

The brands benefit from the star power Marlo Thomas brings to her media appearances, including a week’s worth of Today Show spots in which she highlighted the retail partners and arranged for a scroll of their logos across the bottom of the screen. Other celebrities have lent their talents too, co-starring with St. Jude patients in movie trailers and PSAs; this year’s most popular piece featured Jennifer Aniston.

Was participation worth retailers’ time from a business perspective? The proof is in the numbers; Thanks and Giving generated 7.5 billion – yes billion-with-a-b – media impressions in 2007. Brand loyalty also climbed, as evidenced in part by a customer survey by retail partner Chili’s. Seventy-seven percent of customers said they will base their future decisions about dining at Chili’s on the chain’s relationship with St. Jude.

Tips, tricks, and trends:
Sessions throughout the conference focused on providing turnkey advice for participants. A sample:

Richard Ellis, VP US Communications for McDonald’s, shared the following recommendations with corporate cause marketers, to be applied as they develop campaigns with nonprofit partners:

  • Be open and honest– transparency is key.
  • Acknowledge that you’re not always going to be perfect.
  • Establish your business locally.
  • Choose a relevant and meaningful cause– one your customer can relate to.
  • Consider your customers to be brand ambassadors.
  • Take action. Know, live, and tell your story.

Stacie Bright, Senior Marketing Communications Manger at Unilever, closed the day with a plenary session on the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. The secrets to the success of her campaign, which is a global initiative to celebrate the natural beauty of all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves:

  • Campaign grounded in research.
  • Framed campaign as a debate.
  • Sought to influence the influencer.
  • Campaign celebritized the “real women” models.
  • Functioned as a call to action.
  • Continues to evolve — a web reality series starring 17 year old girls, a Dove Digital channel, and new programming for 20-somethings are in the works.

Cone Inc. Chairman Carol Cone and EchoDitto Principal Brian Reich led a session on how to harness new media for your cause. Their key takeaway for cause marketers looking to override marketplace clutter, while imbuing elements of social networking and digital media into their campaigns? Inform, connect, and then mobilize.

Inform: Build brand and issue awareness. A noteworthy example comes from The HUB, a website produced by nonprofit group WITNESS. The HUB, which has been described as “the YouTube of human rights,” is a global platform for human rights media and action; any user from anywhere in the world can produce and post relevant videos.

Connect: Teach, empower, create evangelists. Cone and Reich cited video game Re-Mission as an innovative example. The game takes kids and teens with cancer on a mission through the human body, where they attack cancer cells. By connecting to their needs, Re-Mission inspires patients to be proactive in their treatment.

Mobilize: Generate funds, advocacy, and drive change. One of the most buzzworthy cases here is that of Darfur is Dying, a viral video game for change that provides a window into the experiences of the 2.5 million refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan. Developed in partnership between the Reebok Human Rights Foundation and the International Crisis Group, the game has been played by 3 million users. 1.5 million of those wrote a letter about the crisis to President Bush, who has since formally acknowledged the Darfuri genocide.

Below, the complete list of category-specific awards, presented to campaigns that occurred in whole or in part in 2007.

Best Environmental/Wildlife Campaign
Gold: “Chase the Extraordinary” InterContinental Hotels Group
Silver: “Esurance — Save Our Selves,” Esurance and Live Earth

Best Health Campaign
Gold: “Skin Cancer Takes Friends,” Proctor & Gamble’s Olay and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery
Silver: “Albertsons Healthy Eaters,” SUPERVALU Inc./Albertsons

Best Social Service/Education Campaign
Gold: “National Vocabulary Championship,” GSN, the Network for Games
Silver: “The 50 Million Pound Challenge,” State Farm Insurance

Best Joint Message Promotion
Gold: “Destination Joy Presented by Lay’s,” Frito-Lay and Make-A-Wish Foundation of America
Silver: “Esurance — Save Our Selves,” Esurance and Live Earth

Best Print Creative
Gold: “Gifts for Greater Good,” Target Corp., The Salvation Army and St. Jude Children Research Hospital
Silver: “The Pedigree Adoption Drive,” Pedigree

Best Transactional Campaign
Gold: “Heroes at Home,” Sears Holding Co. and Rebuilding Together
Silver: “Crate and Barrel Distribution of Gift Certificates,” Crate and Barrel and

Best Cause Marketing Event
Gold: “Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis,” Live Earth
Silver: “A Day Made Better,” OfficeMax and Adopt-A-Classroom

Best National/Local Integration
Gold: “Warm Coats and Warm Hearts Drive,” ABC News’ Good Morning America, Burlington Coat Factory and One Warm Coat
Silver: “Lets All Play…It Matters,” Hasbro and Boundless Playgrounds

To learn more about the Cause Marketing Forum and the Halo Awards, visit

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