Part II: Cause+Video: Integrating Cause Marketing into Brand Ad Campaigns

Mar 17, 2014 5:15 PM ET

Guest post by MSLGROUP's Anne Erhard on Cause Update

In follow-up to the Cause + Video Part I post, I have to give a shout out to the next two halo award finalists in the video category – Mastercard Dig In, Do Good and Walgreen’s Get a Shot, Give a Shot. While the first two videos in Part I were particularly emotionally compelling and leveraged video for strong storytelling, I put Mastercard and Walgreens together for a much different reason. These brands both use video in a way that seamlessly integrates their cause marketing promotions into their broader national advertising campaigns, helping to drive real business goals.

I love to see this level of paid advertising promotion for cause campaigns because it speaks to the power that cause marketing can have in driving tangible business benefits, from increased sales and traffic to product usage. Let’s face it – it is only when cause is tied to a direct business goal that a brand attaches such a significant “real estate” as a national TV spot – as Mastercard did this year. I know first-hand that it is a cause marketer’s (or nonprofit partner’s) dream to hear a colleague or corporate partner say, “this would work great in our ad campaign.” Ads drive eyeballs and eyeballs drive more engagement, which drives greater success in the form of fundraising or social impact for our cause promotions. And, it is those cause and CSR campaigns that truly fit with a brands’ business, their values— or even their creative approach and personality – that tend to stand out in the marketplace and among consumers.

First take a look at Walgreen’s partnership with the UN Foundation’s Shot @ Life campaign. This campaign was a perfect integration of social good with business good. Walgreens is clearly seeking to garner its share of the flu shot demand, so a 1 to 1 social incentive urging all customers in the promotional window to “Get a Shot” (for themselves/loved ones) and “Give a Shot” (to a person in need in developing countries)” was brilliant (video here).

Beyond the seamless business tie-in, what I love about the video spot is how it leverages the brand’s catchy and pervasive ad campaign which rolled out the new tagline of “at the corner of happy and healthy.” This cause marketing spot uses the same narrator, tone, and look and feel so it benefits from the broader brand equity and awareness, effectively “sticking” in consumer minds. To top it off, the ad is just one piece within much a broader campaign activation including in store events, signage and celebrity spokespersons. Cause content – especially video –is always best utilized within the broader marketing mix.

Next, take a peek at Mastercard’s Dig in Do Good campaign (video here), featuring Eric Stonestreet and benefiting Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Similarly, this campaign fits into the brands’ iconic “Priceless” campaign – a sentiment where cause works particularly well. The campaign seeks to offer a social incentive for consumers to drive usage of Mastercard for dining out. Beyond the ad, which ran nationally, I love that this campaign approached video in a unique way by leveraging “behind the scenes” footage from the shoot with Eric Stonestreet. This is a great way to get more mileage from costly video shoots; such footage really allows viewers to feel like part of the brand’s community, getting an authentic, inside look into the campaign while the allowing the actual TV spot to remain very concise. It is important to note that the spokesperson choice was a good one here as well, as Stonestreet had previously been involved with Stand Up 2 Cancer and had a personal connection to the cause. This is key for any celebrity-driven cause spot.

In marketing today, content is king, and the same goes for cause marketing. Video can be a particularly powerful content tool for showcasing the emotion and humanity behind cause marketing campaigns, whether it is short form or long form, buzz-worthy or educational, user-generated or branded. Join me for a breakout session at CMF 2014 to talk through various video formats, objectives video can help reach for both companies and nonprofits, and best practices for cause video “to see and be seen.”