Cause Marketing Done Right: Bridging the Gap Between CSR & Brand-Building

By Karla Santiago
Jun 1, 2016 7:30 PM ET
Campaign: 3BL Blogs
Water saving idea: Put a brick in a toilet's water tank so it holds less water -- wastes less and still flushes. (Photo Credit: Shock Top Indiegogo page)

Mining for the next big idea is constantly underway in marketing departments across the world. In today’s content marketing world, the next killer concept has to be better than a catchy slogan and a viral video.

As corporate social responsibility and cause-awareness continue to grow within the marketing world, some brands struggle to bring together the product and the cause seamlessly, according to brand and non-profit experts gathering at the annual Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago this week.

One brand that was able to make it happen is Shock Top, the Belgian-style wheat ale from Anheuser-Busch.

Millennial consumers responded positively to the brand’s Shock The Drought water conservation campaign for its issue focus, humor and creative use of the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, sais Shock Top Vice President Jake Kirsch. A $50,000 bounty was floated for the best idea to stop wasting water.

Like Shock Top, various other brands have been able to connect with their target audience at the product level.

Cosmetics giant Mary Kay was lauded for connecting with its global, overwhelmingly female audience through specific issues that are important to them. Through efforts like the brand’s Global Day of Beauty, Mary Kay uses its product to expand the dialog about domestic violence.

Without brand recognition, some product sectors face a long and difficult road. Fruits and vegetables have benefitted from an innovative Partnership For A Healthier America campaign that gives healthy produce a cause of its own. Take a look at the FNV campaign, backed by the “coolest” celebrities on TV and beyond.

With fruits, veggies and more in hand, it looks like the content marketing world will continue to evolve thanks to the growth of cross-generational communication and the increasing interest in cause awareness and social impact.