Why Brands With A Heart Are A Marketer’s New Mission

Why Brands With A Heart Are A Marketer’s New Mission

Souad Christina Saied (pictured below), account director at Sydney marketing firm Sunday Lunch, was the sole Aussie at the recent Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago recently. Here, She tells B&T readers the one BIG thing to come out of the Forum was that customers increasingly want brands to have a heart…

B&T Magazine
Posted by B&T Magazine

The Cause Marketing Forum is the premier global conference for sharing case studies, stories and ideas for marketing campaigns that bridge the gap between CSR and marketing, enabling everyone to profit through purpose. Attended by hundreds of delegates from both the corporate and not-for-profit sector, the event brings together ambitious, conscious marketers committed to changing the way marketing is done the world over. As the only Australian representative in attendance, it seems we are missing a trick. So for those of you (and it’s all of you!) that didn’t attend, here’s what you need to know about the next generation of marketing that’s ramping up internal engagement and winning the hearts and wallets of consumers.


If you think money can’t buy happiness then you’re not spending it right

Michael Norton (of TED Talk fame) opened the conference by challenging the well-known expression ‘Money can’t buy happiness’. His research at the Harvard Business School (HBS) has demonstrated that money can in fact buy happiness, when it’s spent in the right way.

When interviewed, a sample of clients from a leading British investment bank consistently claimed they needed about three times more money to be happy. As I am sure you can guess, those with three times more money than them said the same thing, verifying what we already knew about corporate, wealthy Londoners – they’ll never be happy.

So it seems that when it comes to money we are all barking up the wrong money tree. When we make money and buy ourselves lots of expensive stuff that we don’t need we often remain unfulfilled; however, when people spend money on others the opposite is true.

A social experiment conducted in both Vancouver and Uganda shows that when instructed to spend $5 (or the Ugandan equivalent) on themselves or someone else, the altruistic felt happier regardless whether they live in the first or third world. And companies are tapping into this insight to drive internal engagement.

Norton’s 2011 study took place at our very own NAB, and showed that randomly assigning pro social incentives to NAB employees did in fact have a causal impact on employee job satisfaction and wellbeing. Employees also got to choose which charity they would like to give to by using the Karma Currency platform.

And performance? Whereas the ROI on a personal incentive of 15€ was just 4.5€ (a net loss), for every 15€ given to a team member to spend on the team, the firm yielded an astonishing 78€.

The lessons are simple:

  1. If you think money can’t buy happiness try giving some away
  2. People are happier when they spend on others
  3. If you’re already spending on CSR, you could get employee brownie points in the process


http://rady.ucsd.edu/faculty/seminars/2011/papers/norton.pdf (NAB/Belgian Study)

Veterans: how to get it right

The conference pinned veterans as the new ‘mega cause’ replacing ‘pink’ as the cause du jour in the US. Starbucks and Uber are amongst the companies that have supported veterans with campaigns in the past 12 months, with hundreds of others raising money through on-pack and transactional campaigns.

Macy’s, a quintessential all-American brand, leveraged the ‘Americana’ fashion trend, the ‘selfie’ trend sweeping across social media, and the upcoming Memorial Day holiday to deliver their ‘American Icons’ campaign. Their integration of the Veteran cause was more than just a shy attempt to leverage a cause close to many people’s hearts. The campaign raised US$5mn over two years (2013/14) and here’s why.

Macy’s asked customers to donate US$3 to veteran charity ‘Got your 6’ which focuses on the reintegration of veterans into the community. As a thank you they offered donors 15% savings on another day of their choice, with one particular day offering 25 per cent . Some 100 per cent of that US$3 went to ‘Got your 6’, every last cent. It might seem like they’re asking the customer to do all the work, only to come back and spend more money with them right? Not quite. Macy’s have skin in the game too.

Another lesson from Macy’s: put your money where your mouth is. During the campaign Macy’s leveraged the ‘selfie’ trend inviting companies to show their ‘American Selfie’ on social media. For every selfie shared with #AmericanSelfie, Macy’s would donate US$1 (capped at US$250k). And if that seems a little too similar to a recent social ANZAC campaign by a certain Australian supermarket, then it’s worth noting that Macy’s social campaign was completely unbranded.

Last but not least, Macy’s drove internal engagement and genuine pride by inviting staff to wear a badge stating that they are a veteran or military family member. Macy’s are absolute leaders in cause marketing, and it’s epitomized beautifully in their tagline ‘The Magic of Giving’. It should come as no surprise that Macy’s have their very own internal cause marketing team who work year round to ensure that every campaign is on point.

Go to where your audience are

American NFP Share our Strength and agency MediaVest demonstrated exactly how to drive profitable consumer engagement with captivating content in an age of diminishing magazine and newspaper readership. ‘No Kid Hungry’ is a Share Our Strength program with a vision to end childhood hunger in America. Each year American children, who rely on school meals, become particularly vulnerable to hunger when school ends and summer is at its height.   The #SaveSummer campaign was not a traditional partnership between an NFP and corporation, instead seeking media partners as a way to drive engagement and donations.

The key insight was that a common NFP problem is limited distribution of their fantastic content. On the flipside, brands are always in need of great content. Share Our Strength researched their audience and where they spend their time. Apart from the obvious social media channels, they also turned to other high traffic areas including online publishers and media companies, such as Popsugar, Buzzfeed and Spotify, who were excited to help. In fact, they were so keen to get on board that MediaVest secured US$54m in donated media, and have set a goal of US$100m in 5 years!

Their advice for brands and NFPs who want media exposure like this? And no, it’s not ‘brief MediaVest’!


  1. Brands need to make the case for content when negotiating their partnership and write it into their funding proposal.
  2. NFPs need to answer the dreaded ROI question upfront, tell partners what kind of content they can provide, and allow them to make it their own. For the #SaveSummer campaign there were GIFs, quizzes, videos and info-graphics to cater to the likes of Buzzfeed, YouTube and Tumblr to name but a few.
  3. Go to where your audience are. They won’t come looking for you. You need to be there, in a place, at a time, and in a format that they want to spend time with.

 Brands need to actually DO something

There is no text message so important that it’s worth risking a life for. It can wait. Yet, in the US there were an estimated 200,000 car accidents in 2012 directly as a result of texting and driving.

AT&T, an American telecommunications company have started a movement in the USA to end texting and driving by educating the public, especially teens, on the dangers. The campaign, aptly titled It Can Wait, invites the public to take a pledge to not text and drive via their dedicated website ItCanWait.com. Those who pledge are also invited to share their pledge and extend the no-texting-and-driving movement on social media with #ItCanWait. In spite of over 7 million pledges and over 900,000 #ItCanWait posts, with over 3.8 billion impressions, we all know pledges and hashtags are nothing new, especially in the world of cause marketing. But the campaign doesn’t stop at social media. It also encourages people to make a physical signed pledge through workplace and high school education programs. Their It Can Wait logo was selected by youth themselves and AT&T have a full internal engagement strategy.

Yet what really makes AT&T’s campaign truly remarkable is their commitment to develop mobile technology to actually prevent accidents as a result of texting and driving. Now, it goes with out saying that most people don’t want to cause accidents on the road and agree that texting and driving is dangerous, so AT&T developed an app to remove the temptation. The app provides a customizable auto-reply message that users’ friends and family receive if they send an SMS or MMS text or email, notifying them that the user is driving and will respond when it is safe. With over 1.5 million downloads, AT&T are showing a real commitment to finding a solution to curb the urge.

Win their hearts and their wallets will follow

People LOVE dogs – no, really. Moreover, people love their dogs. In fact, they love them so much they’ll pay to prove it. It’s a simple insight yet one that has helped Orvis, a high quality outdoor and sporting goods brand, raise over US$1.1m for the Morris Animal Foundation.

With no allocated budget Orvis launched the Orvis Cover Dog Photo Contest, inviting customers to submit a photo of their hound for the chance to be on the cover of the Orvis catalogue. A fully word of mouth campaign, customers uploaded their photos to social media for a donation to the Morris Animal Foundation. They then invited the public to vote for their favourite cover dog in exchange for a US$1 donation per vote. The campaign has received over 100,000 entries with an estimate 500m+ reach on Twitter and has published 50 winners to date. The Morris Animal Foundation has acquired 28,723 new donors through the campaign, with 13 per cent of donors making a second gift.

And Orvis weren’t ashamed to admit that the business results were pawsitively (yep, that’s a dog pun) awesome. They have an ongoing giving model donating five per cent of all pre-tax profits to protecting nature, supporting communities and advancing canine health and wellbeing, raising over US$18m in 25 years and over US$1m in 2014. Not bad for a privately owned company with just 66 stores in the US.

Practice your company values

Every company has values. They’re normally a few words designed to give employees, partners and customers a sense of what the organization stands for. They’re normally very nice but overall passive and meaningless. Identifying a value set is one thing, but to live these beliefs and let them guide how the business operates and how you make decisions is quite another.

Would you end a partnership to defend your values? Would you lose followers on Instagram or Twitter? CVS Health, an American 7800-store strong, publically traded pharmacy chain put US$2bn, yes billion, on the line to stand true to their values.

CVS Health’s purpose is to help people on their path to health. This mission is underpinned by the principles of innovation, collaboration, caring, integrity and accountability. So I am sure we all agree that selling tobacco in their pharmacies is totally contradictory. In fact, it’s downright absurd. Yet, it’s sadly the norm amongst several pharmacies stateside.

With over 5.5 million customers per day, 26 per cent market share and billions of dollars on the line, CVS admitted the decision making process wasn’t easy. However, with a strategy to reinvent pharmacy CVS not only removed tobacco from their shelves, but also resolved to tackle an addiction that costs America over US$300bn and 480,000 lives per year. By partnering with American Cancer Society, CVS created a smoking cessation program encompassing ‘Quit Kits’, a toll free quit line operated by the charity and Start to Stop™ sessions through their 900 ‘minute clinics’. In under a year CVS have administered 67,000 pharmacist-counselling sessions for smokers, witnessed a 63 per cent increase in nicotine replacement therapy scripts and a 21 per cent rise in over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy purchases.

It didn’t do their brand or their bottom-line any harm either. The bold move garnered support from Michelle Obama and Bill Gates as well as 218 million print and broadcast impressions in the first week. In the first full three-month period without tobacco sales – CVS reported net revenues increased 12.9 per cent to a record US$37.1bn! As Roy Disney famously said, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are”.


http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2015/02/10/even-without-tobacco-revenue-cvs-reports-sales/ (CVS Net Revenue)

Everyone else is doing it….

Despite Edelman’s 2012 research showing that 69 per cent of Australian consumers think it’s ok for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time, it’s no secret that Australia has been slow to jump on the cause and purpose bandwagon. However, as we start to see more examples of cause-related and purpose-led marketing emerge in the Australian market, marketers need to tread carefully. You only need to look to the Woolworths ANZAC debacle to know that cause marketing is not a tactical add-on. And while there are many differences between the Australian and American markets, the simple fact is that as humans we are wired for empathy. What’s the ultimate lesson from the Cause Marketing Forum? With commitment, authenticity, passion, accountability and a watertight strategy; giving is good for customers, good for society and good for business.

BY: Souad Christina Saied

Account Director at Sunday Lunch

Twitter: @soucee@sundaylunchsyd

Web: sundaylunch.com.au

Blog: lunchwithsouad.com