A Year in Cause & CR (Part 2)

Dec 19, 2011 11:59 AM ET

What Do You Stand For?

2011 was a banner year for innovative and interesting cause marketing and corporate responsibility campaigns, from urging consumers to not buy a product to sending parents harassing text messages. In this second installment of "A Year in Cause & CR," we reveal the remaining five trends in cause marketing and corporate responsibility from 2011.

CR Kumbaya: The fact is, most CR issues extend beyond one company. Coalitions are a powerful way to address issues, so much so even direct competitors are uniting around their biggest challenges and encouraging consumers to join in. In the spirit of collaboration, Dell, Sprint and Sony have promoted environmentally sound management of used electronics through an EPA-industry partnership. Bosch Home Appliances, Kohler, Lowe's and P&G have also recently joined forces with the EPA's WaterSense program to launch "Wasting Water is Weird," a program that asks consumers to cut out their water-wasting habits.

Get Real: There's a reason the phrase "walk a mile in their shoes" is such a common idiom – it's the best way to truly understand circumstances outside your own experiences. It's also a powerful way for organizations to bring their audiences even closer to the causes that matter. Liz Claiborne is helping parents understand the true nature of a negative teen relationship through its "Love is Not Abuse" campaign, which lets parents sign up for an app that will send them a succession of controlling and harassing calls, texts and emails from a "boyfriend" or "girlfriend." And Nature Valley* is helping everyone to experience our nation's national parks by sending teams of videographers to capture the best of the parks, then sharing the footage online through the "National Parks Project" campaign.

Retail Therapy: This year, leading apparel brands are trying to get consumers to think differently – very differently – about how they buy and care for their clothes, all in the name of sustainability. It's not often you'll find a brand willing to tell its consumers not to buy its products. But that is exactly what Patagonia has done with its compelling "Don't Buy This…" ads. In turn, Patagonia promises to build useful products that last and implores consumers to only buy what they really need. To do its part in the name of sustainability, Levi's is asking consumers to freeze jeans instead of washing to kill odor-causing bacteria and conserve water.

Good.0: Few of us could operate without key websites in our day-to-day lives, and these companies believe the same goes for our nation's nonprofits. So they are putting their tech savvy to work for social good. Google is lending a helping hand to nonprofits with its "Google for Nonprofits" program, which gives approved nonprofits free or discounted Google apps, advertising and much more. Similarly, craigslist is bringing attention to a variety of causes, from veterans' issues to technology for social good through its "craigconnects" program.

Next Gen: Move over moms, cause marketers have set their sights on the next generation. Brands are inviting kids, young and old, to join them in their do-good efforts. Burger King, for one, has taken cause crowdsourcing to the kiddies. As part of its BK Crown program, children can help Burger King choose which cause to support in the areas of wildlife, environment and education. Children can also reduce and reuse with free lunch bags redeemed after the purchase of specially marked products through the "Kids Konserve" campaign, a partnership between Annie's Homegrown, Stonyfield YoKids and Seventh Generation.

See the complete list of 2011 cause marketing and CR trends and examples on our website.

*Cone Client