A Year in Cause & CR (Part 1)

Dec 12, 2011 10:00 AM ET

What Do You Stand For?

Here at Cone Communications we spend the entire year tracking cause and corporate responsibility, and between shark fin soap and $3,500 sneakers for a cause, we’ve seen it all. Over the next two weeks, we’ll reveal our top 10 trends in cause marketing and corporate responsibility of 2011.

Get Green: Don’t be mistaken, we’re not talking environment – we mean money, the other green thing that is imperative for companies to protect. Economic development is the leading issue consumers want companies to address, and several organizations have taken heed. Among the leaders in this area, Starbucks has worked to reinvigorate the economy through its “Create Jobs for USA” campaign, while Chipotle has enlisted the help of Willie Nelson and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O to support America’s small farms.

No Bully: Anti-bullying efforts took center stage in cause marketing this year as organizations stepped up to address this tragic trend and to ask all of us to take a stand. P&G’s Secret Deodorant “Mean Stinks” campaign empowered young women through a partnership with Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center and by creating a Facebook community to encourage women to stand up to “stinky” behavior. Time Warner Cable* joined the bullying battle by asking consumers to take a pledge to “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” via a Facebook app.

Limited Edition: A number of well-known brands are designing special products all in the name of a cause (think white cans or shark fin soap), and the fact that they are only around for a short time makes them even more appealing. Nike took things way back when it hosted a 10-day eBay auction of 1,500 pairs of limited edition 2011 Nike shoes inspired by the movie “Back to the Future II,” ultimately raising $4.7 million for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Every Penny Counts: Some brands hope a little penny-pinching will go a long way to help a cause. It may be small change, but multiplied by the millions of products sold and consumers engaged, these companies think donating pennies just makes sense. And to bring the point home, JCPenney’s “Pennies From Heaven” campaign raised $1 million this year, while Walgreens “Way to Well”* raises up to $3 million annually.

Zero Down: It may only take a penny for some causes, but the bar is being set even lower for a few organizations – in a positive way, of course. A number of organizations are zeroing in on impact as they pledge to cut their emissions, end diseases or otherwise achieve large social and environmental goals. Nissan went nil with the futuristic game “Planet Zero,” where players must achieve zero emissions to move on. At the end of each level, players learn an environmental fact to help them on their own personal environmental missions.

Stay tuned for the next five trends in corporate responsibility and cause on What Do You Stand For? next week!


*Cone Client