Unless you’re a hard core Star Wars geek, a five-year old, or the parent of a five-year old, I’m guessing you didn’t hotfoot it to the multiplex last month to see “The Clone Wars.” If you had, you would have been introduced to Anakin Skywalker’s padawan Ahsoka — or, as we say in this galaxy — his apprentice.
I’ve been referring to the folks at Cone Inc. as the Jedis of Cause Marketing lately because — well, because they are. And I want to be their padawan. I like where I work very much, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I’m supposed to be something of a CRM expert at this agency but not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new and feel humbled by the great Cone blog. Making me feel like a padawan, minus the orange skin and tentacle-like headdress.
Do check out today’s post on investing versus giving, a brilliant distinction that sums up for me what’s most exciting about where cause marketing is going these days.
We do a “Cause Marketing 101” presentation for our clients that in one section traces a broad timeline of the evolution of philanthropy from the start of the last century till today, how mass media has changed over the same period, with an overlay of what’s been going on in cause related marketing since its (widely agreed upon) beginning in 1983 with the American Express/Statue of Liberty fundraising drive. It’s an interesting slide, particularly if you geek out over cultural timelines (and I do). But the big takeaway of the slide is meant to be that as society and its means of communicating and interacting evolve, so do the myriad ways we humans do good and give back. To amplify this further — and more eloquently — here’s a quote from Sean Stannard-Stockton’s “Tactical Philanthropy” blog:
Unlike the Rockefellers, Carnegies and other early foundation founders who created entities that mirrored existing institutions, the structured philanthropic vehicles of the 21st century will create a tradition similar to the emerging Web 2.0 companies. Rather than concentrated pools of money which imitate existing institutional structures, the new philanthropists will be smaller, widely distributed agents of change who co-create the social sector that they support.
For anyone embarking upon or already involved in CRM, there is no better place to learn from than the world of philanthropy. Real innovation in fundraising and donor (substitute consumer) engagement is happening in that world: watch and learn.
Most of our clients’ brands are sold in the mass arena so given the current economic situation, you can imagine the flurry of “splurge versus steal” and “value reframe” pitches going out of this agency’s doors. That said, it’s awfully challenging making that story feel fresh — or palatable, since trading in class for mass could be seen by some consumers as a hardship. So I was interested to see Mark Dolliver’s report in AdWeek (subscription required) on a new survey that suggests there’s not as much stigma in “trading down” as maybe we all thought. While a tiny portion of Americans reported feeling “embarrassed” or “upset” by having to buy cheaper brands (4 and 2 percent, respectively), the majority felt “practical, knowledgable and clever” (72, 62 and 51 percent.)
While we’re on the topic of the economy, I can’t think of anyone handling the whole “trading down” message better than Target — the “Brand New Day” campaign was the first I noticed that managed to credibly (and stylishly) make lemonade from these fiscal lemons we’ve been handed. I [heart] you, Target.