Cause Marketing for Your Challenger Brand

March 1, 2016 | blog | By Mike Sullivan


Pink may be the color that most comes to mind when you think about cause marketing, and there’s good reason for it. Connecting your brand with a non-profit sends a powerful message about your company’s values. But there are more than just warm ‘n’ fuzzy reasons to consider cause marketing.

Cause marketing campaigns not only help a non-profit achieve desperately needed awareness or achieve funding goals, but it can also boost your challenger brand’s reputation, increase sales, and heighten brand awareness and loyalty.The Cause Marketing Forum shared a few interesting statistics that may help you build a business case for a cause marketing program.

  • Cause sponsorship is predicted to reach $2 billion in 2016 alone – a projected increase of 3.7 percent over 2015.
  • 90 percent of consumers in the U.S. stated they would switch brands to one that’s associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality.
  • Letting consumers give is easier than you might think. For instance, 71 percent of consumers have donated to a charity at the cash register as they are checking out.

If those stats have you thinking about the benefits of cause marketing, also consider that Millennials prefer socially responsible companies.

You may be wondering if you should go big or go home when starting a cause marketing strategy. It really comes down to activation and results. Weigh the cost against business metrics, but also factor in the priceless impact of goodwill from your employees, job candidates, and consumers. You may even want to measure consumer perception of your company before and after the campaign to see how far you moved the needle.

To get started, here are a few successful examples to consider:

American Express and the Statue of Liberty Restoration Project
Among the pioneers of cause marketing, American Express created one of the very first cause marketing campaigns in the early 1980s to help raise awareness and funds for the Statue of Liberty restoration project. American Express gave a portion of every purchase made on their cards to the cause as well as additional monies for new credit customers. The result was legendary.  Overall, the campaign raised over $1.7 million and the use of the American Express card increased by 27 percent. Talk about wins all around!

Go Red for Women and Macy’s
For the past 12 years, Macy’s has been the national sponsor of the well-recognized American Heart Association Go Red for Women campaign.  The partnership between the two is led primarily through a series of point-of-purchase sales tactics, social media campaigns and co-branded, red themed apparel sales. This iconic campaign integrates both local AHA offices and Macy’s stores as they join forces to raise heart health awareness at social events in cities across the country.  Macy’s and the AHA’s little red dress have made strides in raising the awareness of the importance of heart health for women and have raised more than $55 million in the process.

Customer Donations
No budget for a cause marketing campaign? No problem. Children’s Miracle Network, the March of Dimes, and many others have partnered with companies who simply ask their customers to give a small amount at the register and write their name on a card to be displayed.  All those $1 or $5 contributions can mean a sizeable check for the nonprofit from your company, plus it gives your customers another reason to feel good about picking your brand.

Remember – integrating with a non-profit can be a solid move for any challenger brand.  It’s all about timing, experience and the right mission working with your brand’s strategy, vision and consumer expectations.  Combine those together and both your challenge brand and selected cause, could see great success.


Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.